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Wildlife Technician Schools

Get detailed information about associate and bachelor's degree programs for aspiring wildlife technicians. Review the course topics you'd study in these programs. Read about voluntary certification options for wildlife technicians, and learn how to find and choose a school for your studies.

To become a wildlife technician, most students choose an associate degree path, but a bachelor's degree can also be pursued to open up more job opportunities. Read on to learn about each of these degree paths and discover schools that can help you become a wildlife technician.

What Is the Most Common Degree?

An associate degree is the most common degree program available for prospective wildlife technicians. Concentrations may vary with the school and offer designations in fish and wildlife management technology, parks, recreation, and wildlife or forestry management.

Because of the nature of the occupation, schools have developed outside classrooms or outside laboratories in order to educate and train students. These are used to institute and develop field skills to prepare you to perform the duties of an animal technician. Though often conducted on campus at a school's own natural resource center, additional outside education takes place at nearby state parks, national parks, environmental centers, hunting preserves or zoos.

Earning a 72-77-credit associate degree generally takes you two years to complete. Typical courses include habitat management, surveying, environmental science, wildlife census techniques, wildlife management and forest fire management. You may have the opportunity to complete an internship at a school-affiliated facility. Though most associate degree programs prepare you for immediate employment upon graduation, you may find that many of the courses can be transferred toward a bachelor's degree. To this end, schools may have articulation agreements with 4-year universities.

What Schools Offer an Associate Degree Path for Wildlife Technicians?

Many schools nationwide offer associate degree programs that can prepare you for a career as a wildlife technician. Here are a few of the many school and degree options available:

  • Vermilion Community College offers an Associate in Science (A.S.) in Fisheries and Wildlife Management
  • Penn State DuBois has an A.S. in Wildlife Technology
  • SUNY Cobleskill offers an Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Fisheries and Wildlife Technology

Should I Pursue a Bachelor's Degree?

Though a bachelor's degree isn't necessary to become an animal technician, you may wish to earn one to enhance your job opportunities.

The most common degree is a 4-year, 120-123-credit Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Science or Wildlife Biology. Programs generally include a large number of outdoor labs that allow you to put into practice principles and techniques learned in the classroom. Typical subjects involve wildlife data collection and analysis, animal behavior, ecogeography, ecotoxicology, animal biology, wildlife ecology and wildlife management.

Schools encourage you to participate in organizations or clubs such as the Wildlife Society, the Wildlife Disease Association or the Society for Conservation Biology. In order to increase your field experience, schools also encourage you to perform volunteer work for organizations such as the National Park Service or the Sierra Club.

Bachelor's Degree Program Options for Aspiring Wildlife Technicians

The Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in fisheries and wildlife science is a common degree path for students pursuing a career as a wildlife technician. The three schools below provide a small sample of schools that offer this degree:

  • Oregon State University offers an online B.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences
  • Tennessee Tech University has a B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Science degree program
  • Arkansas Tech University offers a Bachelor of Science in Fisheries & Wildlife Science

Am I Certified When I Graduate?

Certification is not a legal requirement, but it may prove beneficial to your career. Voluntary professional certification programs have been developed through a joint effort of the Wildlife Society and the North American Wildlife Technology Association. If you have earned a minimum of an associate degree and have three letters of recommendation from professional wildlife technicians, you may be eligible to apply for certification as an Associate Wildlife Technician (AWT). With the addition of three years of appropriate work experience, you may qualify to apply for the Certified Animal Technician (CWT) designation.

Where Can I Find a Wildlife Technician School?

The National Center for Education Statistics features an online searchable database of nearly 90 institutions that offer undergraduate, postsecondary programs focusing on wildlife, fish, and wildlands science and management (nces.ed.gov). You can find programs that may help you become an animal technician through a university's school or department of natural resources and conservation, wildlife science, agricultural sciences, biology or forestry.

The North American Wildlife Technology Association maintains a list of schools in the United States and Canada, with accredited 2- and 3-year programs in wildlife and fisheries technology (www.nawta.org). The list is quite limited and includes only members of the association. There may be many non-member institutions, as well as 4-year programs, which are reliable and provide quality education.

In summary, there are several schools that offer both associate and bachelor's degree programs for students aspiring to be a wildlife technician. Although an associate degree is the most common degree program, bachelor's degree programs and an Associate Wildlife Technician certification can help broaden career options.