How to Become a Wildlife Biologist: Career Path Guide
If you want to become a wildlife biologist, you’ll first need to determine if this career is a good fit for you. Are you interested in a career that allows you to help conserve our wildlife populations?
Are you interested in a career that allows you to work outside and with animals? Do you have an interest in science and scientific methods?
If you answered yes to all three of these questions, then you’re likely well suited for a career as a wildlife biologist.
Below we've outlined what you'll need to succeed in a career as a wildlife biologist. We've also included helpful information for a wildlife biologist career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!
Wildlife Biologist Job Description
Wildlife biologists help to maintain and conserve wildlife populations by examining factors such as disease, nutrition, habitat relationships, and population dynamics. Wildlife biologists are responsible for studying the impact that human action and environmental change have on the ecosystems that wildlife depend on.
Wildlife Biologist Job Duties
• Coordinate prevention programs relating to wildlife diseases
• Plan, organize and conduct experimental studies with live animals in controlled or natural settings
• Study the origins, interrelationships, diseases, genetics, development and other characteristics of animals
• May oversee the care of zoo animals
• May liaise with zoo directors and curators in order to determine the best way to contain animals and maintain their habitats
• Analyze characteristics of animals to identify and classify them
• Disseminate information by writing reports and scientific papers or journal articles
• Breed and raise specimens for study and observation
• Dissect and examine animals
Education Needed to Become a Wildlife Biologist
To become a wildlife biologist, you need to begin by earning a Bachelor of Science degree in biology or a closely related field such as environmental science or zoology.
Completing undergraduate coursework in wildlife biology, conservation biology, ecology, zoology, chemistry and mathematics is a great way to build an educational foundation for your prospective career as a wildlife biologist.
Depending on where your career ambitions and interests lie, you will likely need a graduate degree in biology to become a wildlife biologist.
Depending on the requirements of the employer, a Master’s degree in Biology (with a specialization in wildlife biology or a related field) is typically sufficient for many applied research positions.
To become a wildlife biologist who works in research and university teaching positions a PhD in Biology is needed. Wildlife biologists must also complete continuing education throughout their careers in order to keep up with advancements in the field.
Who Hires Wildlife Biologists?
The following types of employers typically provide jobs for wildlife biologists:
• Provincial/state and federal governments
• Environmental consulting firms
• Large resource-based corporations such as pulp and paper producers, oil and gas companies and mining companies
• Non-profit organizations such as Ducks Unlimited, Alberta Conservation Association, Trout Unlimited or Wildlife Habitat Canada
• Zoos, aquariums and nature centres
• Colleges and universities
Find Wildlife Biologist Job Postings
Characteristics of Successful Wildlife Biologists
To become a successful wildlife biologist, you need a certain set of personality traits in addition to your education and experience. If you’re reading the list of personality and intellectual traits listed below, and you recognize many of the traits in yourself, you may be well suited to become a wildlife biologist.
• An interest, curiosity and appreciation for different forms of life
• An keen interest in protecting wildlife
• An interest in mathematics, statistics and science
• Excellent oral and written communication skills
• Able to use logic and reasoning to solve problems
• Enjoy conducting research and synthesizing information
• Stamina and endurance, applicable to long hours of fieldwork
• Attention to detail and excellent observation skills
• Strong organizational skills and ability to keep detailed records
Wildlife Biologist Salary: How Much Do They Earn?
Salary levels can vary greatly for wildlife biologists, depending on their level of education, where they work, their amount of experience and many other factors.
Wildlife Biologist Salary Alberta: According to the 2013 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working in the Biologists and Related Scientists occupational group earn an average salary of $82,460 per year.
Wildlife biologist salary Canada: According to ECO Canada, wildlife biologists with several years of education and experience can earn between $47,300 and $78,500 per year.
Wildlife biologist salary United States: The U.S Labor and Statistics Bureau reports that the median salary for Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists is $57,430 USD per year.
Careers Similar to Wildlife Biologist
Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to that of a wildlife biologist, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.
References: Wildlife Biologist Career Path
Please consult the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a wildlife biologist.
Alberta Learning and Information Services website: alis.alberta.ca
ECO Canada website: www.eco.ca
United States Bureau of Labor Statistics: www.bls.gov
Scholarships for Becoming a Wildlife Biologist
Scholarships listed for majors that apply to becoming a Wildlife Biologist can be found on the following pages:
Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!
Becoming a Wildlife Biologist: Applicable Majors
Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming a wildlife biologist. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!