Wildlife biology as a career?

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sergio779 in Tempe, Arizona

71 months ago

Skills you need of how to become a wild life biologists

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FWS Guy in Washington, District of Columbia

70 months ago

Jessica in Carterville, Illinois said: Thanks, Brian for the information. I will check out Murray State. I am also wondering what other careers are out there for someone with a passion for wildlife like me.

Jessica,
I would recommend that you go and talk to some of your state biologists and US Fish and Wildlife Service employees. Ask them questions maybe even follow them around for a day. Most larger state schools have a wildlife program, but as wildlife guy said make sure they are certified. Having been in the field for a while (while other may argue this) there isn't really a top "wildlife" school. My best advice is to get experience either through internships, US Fish and Wildlife Service's SCEP program, or volunteering. Experience get you jobs, doesn't really matter where your degree came from.

Career-wise, a wildlife biogist is usually employeed by state or federal government. A smaller percentage work for non-profits, such as the Nature Conservancy, or private timber or other natural resource (i.e. oil, power) companies.

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WildlifeGuy in Mt. Washington, Kentucky

70 months ago

Jessica,

Wildlife Biology is such a diverse field, it really depends on what your specific interests you have. Some biologists work with specific species (quail biologist, deer biologist, etc), some with a specific group of animals (I was a small game biologist for a while), some work on public land to improve the wildlife habitat and manage the facilities, some work with private landowners to help them improve their land for wildlife, and some conduct research on various species of wildlife.

FWS Guy had a very good idea in his post - go visit your state Fish and Wildlife Dept. or a US Fish and WIldlife Service office and talk to some of the biologists. Find out what they do, how well they like their work, and maybe you can volunteer with them for a few days to get a feel for what they do. I wish you the best in your search for a wildlife career. It really is a rewarding field. Again, let me know if you have any more questions. I will answer them as best as I can.

Take care,

Brian

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Marvel Mills in Kissimmee, Florida

70 months ago

WildlifeGuy in Mt. Washington, Kentucky said: Jessica,

Wildlife Biology is such a diverse field, it really depends on what your specific interests you have. Some biologists work with specific species (quail biologist, deer biologist, etc), some with a specific group of animals (I was a small game biologist for a while), some work on public land to improve the wildlife habitat and manage the facilities, some work with private landowners to help them improve their land for wildlife, and some conduct research on various species of wildlife.

FWS Guy had a very good idea in his post - go visit your state Fish and Wildlife Dept. or a US Fish and WIldlife Service office and talk to some of the biologists. Find out what they do, how well they like their work, and maybe you can volunteer with them for a few days to get a feel for what they do. I wish you the best in your search for a wildlife career. It really is a rewarding field. Again, let me know if you have any more questions. I will answer them as best as I can.

Take care,

Brian

I am just now enrolling into college and am severely interested in a career in wildlife biology. What kind of degree should I seek? You say you were a small game biologist. What kind of path did you have to take to eventually reach this position? What was the pay like? Was it extremely competitive to get into it? What were the basic activities you conducted in your job? I would love to work in the outdoors. Possibly at a wildlife park or resort or refuge. Could you give me a basic idea or pointers in the field? I would love to hear from your experience

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Marvel Mills in Kissimmee, Florida

70 months ago

Would the best path as (far as a degree goes) be to enroll in a BS in Biology? Also, I looked on this website to try and get some information jobsearch.usajobs.gov/jobsearch.asp?q=wildlife&lid=316&salmin=&salmax=&paygrademin=&paygrademax=&FedEmp=N&tm=&sort=rv&vw=d&brd=3876&ss=0&FedPub=Y&SUBMIT1.x=94&SUBMIT1.y=27&SUBMIT1=Search+for+Jobs and noticed the jobs were on some kind of GS scale. How does this work? It seems to go from about GS-03 to GS-13

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FWS Guy in Washington, District of Columbia

70 months ago

If you want to be a wildlife biologist, look for a wildlife program. As wildlifeguy said, the certification from the Wildlife Society is important for beginning in the field. Check them out at www.wildlife.org

The wildlife field is very competitive, experience is the key for a beginning biologist. Look for opportunities with a State or Federal agencies to get out in the field and be hands-on. More than likely you'll have to volunteer your time, but it will pay off in the end.

The GS scale is explained at www.opm.gov. An entry level job is at the GS-5 level (usually).

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WildlifeGuy in Mt. Washington, Kentucky

69 months ago

As FWS Guy mentioned, I would highly recommend getting a degree in Wildlife Biology, Wildlife Management, Conservation Biology, or something specific to wildlife. Not to say you couldn't get a wildlife job with just a biology degree, but it would be much harder and would definitely limit the jobs that you could apply for. Many wildlife jobs these days require you to be eligible for certification through the Wildlife Society. This certification requires very specific coursework. So be sure to research potential college choices and make sure that they offer the classes you will need to meet this requirement.

The path that I took was to first obtain my degree in Wildlife Biology from Murray State University in western Kentucky. I then lucked into a seasonal Wildlife Technician job on a wildlife management area just 20 miles from my hometown (I got very lucky on that one). After working three years at this seasonal job (I worked April-December, then had to find other work January-March), and getting turned down for numerous full-time biologist positions, they finally made the position permanent. After three more years as a technician, I finally got the job as Small Game Biologist. I really liked my technician job WAY more than I did the biologist position because I was in the field daily doing hands-on habitat work. As a biologist, I rarely got out of the office. Thats not to say that all wildlife biologist positions are office jobs, as most are not. Mine just happened to one that was. The more you are willing to move, the easier it will be for you to find work. I wanted to stay in the state of Kentucky at the time, so I limited my opportunties.

As far as pay, Kentucky's biologists start out around $34,000/yr. Thats pretty average for entry level biologist positions from what I have seen.

If wildlife work is what you truly want to do, don't let anyone tell you that you won't be able to get a job or that you'll starve to death on the pay.

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Marvel Mills in Kissimmee, Florida

69 months ago

Thank you both so much for your responses. I looked into Florida colleges that offer degrees similar to the ones you suggested and here's what I found www.registrar.ufl.edu/catalog/programs/courses/wildlife.html As far as I can tell that seems to be something if not exactly like what you are suggesting. Am I right?
Once again thank you both so so much. I am currently enrolled in my first semester at a community college that doesn't offer a specific wildlife course but they do offer many courses that seem to fall into the guidelines outlined at www.wildlife.org. I am hoping that I will be able to finish my two years at the community college and get the basics out of the way plus a leaning towards biology, ecology, zoology, and botany courses and then possibly transfer to the college I linked above and finish the degree out. Does that sound like a good course plan? I'm going to talk to the colleges and try to see how to make it work if it looks good. Otherwise I could finish the semester out where I am at now at the community college and try to go directly to UF (the linked college) next semester. I'm just not sure about the tuition costs... if my financial aid will still be able to cover it. Which option sounds better to you?

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FWS Guy in Springfield, Illinois

69 months ago

Marval,
Looks good. If I had to do it over, I would have done my first 2 years at a community college to save $$. The last two years are all your major courses anyway. The first 2 are all your general education, so just make sure they will transfer over.

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cupressiana in Marlboro, New Jersey

69 months ago

Hi everyone. I graduated in 2007 from Rutgers University with a BA in Communications, but as time passed I realized that this field wasn't of interest to me and that my true passion lies in wildlife conservation. I am trying to figure out what steps to take in order to follow my dream career, but I am a tad confused and need your help. I've tried applying to various organizations to gain some experience, but they would not take me. My only other option is to go back to school. I've looked at a major in Wildlife Management, which seems very applicable to what I'm intending to do, but I do not know whether or not I have to go for a Bachelor's again or I can just pursue a Master's in Wildlife Management. The reason why I chose this major is because it meets the requirements of the Wildlife Society and will allow me to become a certified Wildlife Biologist in five years time. Most of the schools that I've stumbled upon are out of state, so that would involve a massive effort to relocate to a different state, out-of-state tuition and the like. I was thinking of taking up some general courses in my community college, but am not sure whether or not they will be accepted at the university from which I will major in Wildlife Management. Also, if I do go for a second Bachelor's in Wildlife Management, would I have to take all the general classes again? It would be great if I could do some sort of bridge program, where I can just use the English/history/humanities classes that I've already taken towards my credit requirements and simply take the courses that are left (i.e. the courses directly relating to the Wildlife Management major...biology, botany, chemistry, mammology and etc.)

I would really appreciate any helpful comments my way. I really want to make this happen because I love animals and would be honored to devote my life to protecting them. Thank you in advance!

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FWSGuy in Denver, Colorado

69 months ago

Cupressiana,
There are a few options. You could get another bachelor's in wildlife, as long as the school you picked you transfer credits you would not have to take any general study courses. A master's might be more difficult because you would have to get accepted into the program and more than likely would have to take undergrad courses first.

I know Rutgers offers a Ecology and Natural Resource degree. I believe this meets Wildlife Society Standards, you'd have to check. Might be worth checking into and talking to some of the professors to see what there advice is.

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FWSGuy in Denver, Colorado

69 months ago

Cupressiana,
There are a few options. You could get another bachelor's in wildlife, as long as the school you picked would transfer your undergrad credits you would not have to take any general study courses. A master's might be more difficult because you would have to get accepted into the program and more than likely would have to take undergrad courses first.

I know Rutgers offers a Ecology and Natural Resource degree. I believe this meets Wildlife Society Standards, you'd have to check. Might be worth checking into and talking to some of the professors to see what there advice is.

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FWS Guy in Springfield, Illinois

69 months ago

If I was you, the first thing I would do is before making a big life decision like this is to go and talk to some of the State and US Fish and Wildlife Service biologist to understand what they do on a daily basis. Corwin's gig is great but that's not what we do everyday. If you are still interested, my advice would be to get as much experience as you can while taking classes. Volunteer with the State, non-profits, grad student projects (I know I always needed the help), or look into the US Fish and Wildlife Student Career Experience Program (SCEP).

The Rutger's degree does not have anything to do with them not getting a job. You can't just come out of a wildlife program and expect to get a job. It is a very competitive field and basic field experience is a requirement for any entry level job. You also have to understand that the number of wildlife jobs is limited to state, federal, non-profits, and a few private companies, so competing with other people with wildlife, biology, zoology, and other natural resource degrees makes it tough. I'd also go to usajobs.opm.gov check out some of the federal jobs avaiable to see what the requirements are. The wildlife biologist job series is 0486, though there are other series like biological technicians, refuge managers, law enforcement, etc..

It's not an easy road, but a rewarding one. Just make sure you look into it more before deciding to make a major life change.

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gir 22 in North English, Iowa

69 months ago

i need help figuring out how to become a wildlife biologist when ai am in 9th grade

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gir 22 in North English, Iowa

69 months ago

sry last mesage got messed up instead of ai it was i am

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Lexi B in Redding, California

69 months ago

So I'm just starting my college education and I would really like to become a wildlife biologist. I have done alot of research as to what they do, pay rate, etc...I just have a couple questions. First, what is a good minor for a wildlife biology major? Also, does anyone know of student funding available for people interested in this field? I desperately need money for college so that I can get my degree, any suggestions?

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Flounder in Monroeville, Pennsylvania

69 months ago

DO NOT MAJOR IN WILDLIFE!! I've got a PhD in wildlife and have been unemployed for over a year. Hedge your bets - major in Biology and since you'll have to get a Masters if you want even the lowest paying job (think minimum wage) you can specify at that point. The profession is basically a joke. If you're a female, go for it. The profession has traditionally attracted men, so state game agencies will hire a female within the wildlife department in a heartbeat. And only do it if you love living in the middle of nowhere. Seriously, you'd think people get into wildlife to live in rural areas but all the competition is for jobs in/near larger metro areas. If you want to live in nowhere South Dakota, do it. Overall, in wildlife you have techs that make close to minimum wage and professors/researchers way up at the top. Very little middle ground. The majority of people I know from college (both undergrad and grad) aren't even in wildlife anymore. Of course those that have gotten one of the few jobs available will its great and go for it, but they represent a small fraction of people that actually have a wildlife degree(s). This profession has totally ruined my life.

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FWSGuy in Denver, Colorado

69 months ago

Flounder,
Did you have a job between your bachelor's and master's? And between your master's and PhD?

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Flounder in Monroeville, Pennsylvania

69 months ago

Several tech jobs during BS. Straight through from MS to PhD.

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WildlifeGuy in Mt. Washington, Kentucky

69 months ago

Wow. It's always the ones who failed at something that are the first to tell everyone else not to try. What about the thousands of us who ARE employed in the wildlife field - I guess we were just all "lucky". Just about everthing in Flounder's post is bull. I've been in the wildlife field for just under ten years - with just a bachelors degree. I've worked four different positions with three different agencies/companies and never left my hometown (I will admit, that I have been very fortunate in that aspect). I make decent money at what I do, although I have had to work my way up from pretty meager beginnings. I don't know too many wildlife jobs paying minimum wage, and I would guess that most wildlife technician positions start in the mid 20's, and biologist positions start in the low to mid 30's. Flounder's post does bring up a few points worth discussing, however.

First, if you are serious about pursuing a job in wildlife biology, you really need to be willing to relocate. New wildlife jobs open everyday, but the competition is high, and those willing to move about anywhere will certainly have the advantage over those wanting to stay in one particular city or state. That is NOT to say you can't get a job in your home state, but chance are that it will take a lot more persistence and networking.

Second - you need to be willing to start in an entry level job and work your way up. A lot of wildlife biologists get their start as a wildlife technician, as I did. No, the pay isn't great, but once you have your foot in the door with an agency or company, it is a lot easier to get promoted into a biologist position than it is to come straight in from the outside.

Third - A masters degree is probably a good idea, although few states actually require one, and I still believe that in most cases experience will take you farther than degrees. I certainly would not recommend getting a PhD without a good deal of experience under your belt.... to be cont.

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WildlifeGuy in Mt. Washington, Kentucky

69 months ago

continued from pervious post:

The time you spend getting a PhD would be better spent getting experience - even if it is volunteer or low-paying experience. Low paying experience is better than forking over thousands of dollars for an additional degree that you don't get to use.

Fourth - Network! If there is a particular agency/company that you want to work for, then by all means, get to know guys in that agency. Talk to the ones responsible for hiring about what you can do to make yourself a better candidate for future positions. Volunteer every chance you get. When your application shows up for an opening, you want them to know exactly who you are and your odds of at least getting an interview will go way up.

Fifth - make sure you have a great resume and a polished interview. I'm filling a biologist position right now, and it is amazing the quality - or lack thereof - of some of the resumes that people send. If your not great at writing a resume, then pay for someone to make one for you. It is the key to getting to the interview. Once you get an interview scheduled, then the real work begins. Practice, practice, practice. Try to anticipate any possible questions you could be asked and have a great answer prepared for all of them. Expect questions on your work habits, experience, and technical questions relating to the job you are applying for. Know everything about the agency/company that you are interviewing with and try to plug some of that into your replies during the interview - it will show that you did your homework.

Sixth - don't give up!!! I couldn't tell you how many unsuccessful interviews that I went through when I was first trying to get a biologist position, but it was a bunch! But with each interview, I got better at anticipating what questions would get asked, and I got better at answering those questions. It was a long, painful learning experience for me, but it paid off in the end.

Sorry to go so long and ramble!

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FWSGuy in Denver, Colorado

69 months ago

Flounder,
Nothing personal against you, but look at your situation. What you are asking is like me being a metermaid for a few summers, getting a PhD in criminal justice, and wondering why I can't get a job as Chief of Police? You said you had some tech jobs while earning your bachelor's, so as far as full-time wildlife work experience, you have very little. If I am an employer and two resumes come across my desk, with the same experience level, I'm not picking the guy with a PhD because he: a)probably wants more $$ and b) might be in my opinion "overqualified". You got bad advice coming through school, I know my professors always preached that experience was key and to get some real-world experience between degrees. I am curious what your expectations were for employment after you got your PhD? Have you looked into doing some Post-doc work to supplement your experience level?

If this is your dream stick with it, it can be frustrating, but hard work always pays off in the end.

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Flounder in Monroeville, Pennsylvania

69 months ago

You are exactly right FWSGuy. I've had alot a fun in the wildlife field. It was very rewarding until I made a really, really bad decision to get a PhD. I've basically educated myself out of getting a good job. I don't think my expectations are unrealistic. I'm willing to relocate to any of the 48 states and take whatever job I can get so long as it will cover my minimum financial aid payments. Not looking to be a supervisor or in charge of anything, just an entry level position is fine with me. I have absolutely no delusions of being qualified for and getting a higher position, but it seems everyone just makes the assumption I'm "settling" for a lower position and I'll leave as soon as a faculty job is available. The irony is that I have absolutely no desire to be a professor. This of course begs the question why I a PhD in the first place. I ask myself that every day.

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WildlifeGuy in Mt. Washington, Kentucky

69 months ago

Flounder,

Why didn't you lay all that out in your original post, with a warning to others not to make the same mistakes that you did, rather than going on a big rant about how the entire wildlife field is a "joke". Nothing bothers me more than someone trying to kill another person's dream just because they weren't able to make it happen themselves. Is getting a great wildlife job easy? Nope! Is it possible? Absolutely! It just takes a lot of hard work, flexibility and persistence. Stick with it- someone, somewhere will give you the chance to prove yourself and you will be on your way to a long and happy career.

Take care,

Brian

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Flounder in Monroeville, Pennsylvania

69 months ago

You're right WildlifeGuy, it was a very misplaced, frustration induced, ill-advised rant. My frustration has reached boiling point over the past few weeks, but it still doesn't give me right to bash someones dream.

If you do want to be a wildlife biologist - do get experience and do take advice from professors with a grain of salt.

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wildlifer394 in Wenham, Massachusetts

69 months ago

Flounder in Monroeville, Pennsylvania said: You're right WildlifeGuy, it was a very misplaced, frustration induced, ill-advised rant. My frustration has reached boiling point over the past few weeks, but it still doesn't give me right to bash someones dream.

If you do want to be a wildlife biologist - do get experience and do take advice from professors with a grain of salt.

WildlifeGuy and Flounder

You are both right to a certain extent. I have a BS in Biology and a MS in Wildlife Ecology. I even by a strange twist of fate have veteran’s preference points. The USFWS is very difficult to get into unless you are willing and able to be a volunteer for several seasons and move around. I found myself coming home from Iraq with a MS and found getting a wildlife job even with a state wildlife agency difficult. I had several years of research experience as well as some extension service experience with a university, still nothing. Then I started thinking outside of the box a little. There are several career paths open to wildlife professionals. I ended up as a state Environmentalist. Mostly I do field inspections and write impact statements but I am getting experience that counts toward full certification with TWS and the salary is higher than tech positions and even most Biologist I positions. When doing job searches don't limit yourself to only looking at job titles that exactly match the title on your degree. Pay more attention to the qualifications and duties of a particular job than its title.

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Britt in Missoula, Montana

64 months ago

The University of Montana has a good wildlife bio program and offers a cerification by the wildlife socitey. After about the first year of the program you are supposed to choose between a terrestrial or an aquatic option. Of course, if you want to do both you can but it's more work. The school is in the mountains and has a lot of outdoor recreation around if your into that stuff. I moved out here for the wildlife program and have no regrets. I will be working on my 3rd year to get my bachelors. There are several opportunities for experience around here as well.

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Adriana in Lorton, Virginia

61 months ago

I'm wondering if I can become a wildlife biologist with a Master of Science in Biology?

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Tayla Fayte in Clearmont, Wyoming

60 months ago

sergio779 in Tempe, Arizona said: Skills you need of how to become a wild life biologists

My name is Tayla Fayte and i need to know the kind of science you studie to become a Wildlife Biologist

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cupressiana in Morganville, New Jersey

59 months ago

If any of you want to discuss this topic with me more thoroughly or just want to talk to someone, who is in a similar situation as yourself, you can email me at cupressiana85@gmail. com

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MontanaWildlife in Bozeman, Montana

58 months ago

This is an interesting discussion. I've been working in the wildlife field for just about ten years now, and in my experience things fall somewhere in the middle of the "doom and gloom" and "everything is roses" scenarios. Here's what I've learned over the past decade or so:
1. At least here in Montana, there are far more people than jobs. Even temporary seasonal positions receive hundreds of applications, and the applicant pool ranges from BS to PhD. This field is very competitive.
2. You have to be willing to go where the jobs are- if you have significant limitations on your ability to move or survive on low paying tech jobs for a few years, you are most likely not going to make it in this field.
3. In general, once you get a permanent job you will most likely not be spending significant amounts of time outside or handling animals. 90% of wildlife work is dealing with people, especially in government agencies. I see this as a huge misperception people have of this career.
4. When you are working outside, you must be able to handle extreme heat or cold, damp clothes, biting insects, no cell service, sleeping outside, sunburn, windstorms, unfriendly animals, biting insects,and mud.
5. Wildlife biology is not about "saving animals". We are working to sustainably manage wildlife populations so we can keep them viable and healthy for the long term. Hunting and population control are integral parts of the equation. If we don't control prolific species we face habitat damage, starvation, disease, and negative impacts to other species.
All this said, if conservation is what speaks to you there are other ways to get involved...see next

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MontanaWildlife in Bozeman, Montana

58 months ago

To my mind, the single most pressing conservation issue is loss of habitat. One certainty of conservation is that without the habitat there are no wildlife. The rate at which habitat is being developed astounds me. Organizations like the Nature Conservancy and others are doing great work at identifying and protecting important wild areas. I think private organizations like these are really where the future lies in terms of habitat conservation and getting involved with one of these would be a great way to work on a significant conservation problem. There are also numerous opportunities to volunteer with state and federal wildlife agencies. The types of volunteer work varies tremendously from place to place, but volunteers are often a critical source of manpower for refuges and agencies. There are also many sportsman's groups that do conservation work- Pheasants Forever volunteers plant shelter belts and food plots for upland birds. Ducks Unlimited works on wetland habitat restoration. The big game organizations (Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Mule Deer Foundation, etc) have done a lot of work to protect habitat and reestablish populations throughout historic ranges of these species. If you are conservation minded but unsure about switching careers, going back to school, working low-paying field jobs, etc. there are lots of opportunities out there for you to get involved and make a difference.

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Daryl Cooley in Sanford, Florida

58 months ago

Hi,I'm actually new to this site.I'm wondering,what does the job market look like for a Marine Science Major in Fla?I just moved to Fla with my wife in hopes of finding a job or a possible intern within the Marine Science field.I may be posting in the wrong area and if I am forgive me.I'm just looking for some help and any answers given would be greatly appreciated.

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MontanaWildlife in Bozeman, Montana

58 months ago

Hmmm...Don't know much about Marine Science. My impression from talking to the few others I've known in the field is that options may be a bit more limited than for terrestrial wildlife. I would think Florida would be about the best location you could be in for a Marine Science job so seems like you have positioned yourself well. I read a few years ago that much of the work out there is more research oriented than management oriented. Nothing wrong with that, but it usually means funding is more fickle. Sorry I can't give you some job market info, but maybe help with places to look. I would check with non-profits (I know there are quite a few in the marine realm), check with the State wildlife agency and any other agency that might be dealing with marine issues, Universities that might have ongoing research and potential job opportunities, and check with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to see what work they are doing in the state. These would be the most likely places to find internship or job information, and in my experience getting your foot in the door is absolutely the most important step in getting a job. Once you have those contacts and that interaction with an agency, you are much more likely to hear about jobs or have things just fall in to your lap. 90% of getting a natural resource job is being in the right place at the right time. I quite unexpectedly landed in my first paying wildlife job while volunteering for a state wildlife agency- I showed up one day and the volunteer coordinator told me the Forest Service biologist needed a tech, I had the qualifications, and he asked if I was interested. Just goes to show, volunteering is not a waste of time and you never know what might happen...

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Richard Gomez in San Antonio, Texas

57 months ago

Hey everyone I am going into the wildlife field and am wondering what step's to make? I contacted the Wildlife Center in Austin and an officer said she got in the field with a BS in Biology then a BS in Wildlife Management. If I follow this then I would get my BS in Biology at UTSA since its right next door to me and then go to Texas Tech for BS in Wildlife Management or A&M University College for BS in Wildlife and Fisheries sciences.

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MontanaWildlife in Bozeman, Montana

57 months ago

At this point in this field, it is extremely difficult to get a permanent level job with only a bachelor's degree. I am one of the lucky ones in that regard. It was kind of a personal choice- my husband has a Master's in Wildlife and its easier for us both to work in the same location if we don't have the exact same qualifications. It can be done, but you have your work cut out for you and in many people's eyes you will always lack a certain degree of credibility or expertise. You will also be much more limited in the types of jobs you will be qualified for. You may have more luck in the private sector with only a BS than in a government agency, but the field is getting more and more saturated with people with advanced degrees looking for permanent positions too. In my experience, having two bachelors degrees is almost worthless. The experience with stats, study/experimental design and implementation, and higher level coursework gained in a Master's program would almost certainly serve you better. If you're going to spend the time and money on education, you'll get much more bang for your buck with a BS/MS. If I were you, I would go for the BS at Texas Tech, then on for a Master's at another institution. Going to different schools gives you an opportunity to see different perspectives, different management issues, and expand your network. I've sat on a couple of hiring committees, and the specialized coursework you get with a wildlife major as opposed to a straight biology major will make you more marketable in the wildlife field. A straight bio degree gives you more fallback options if wildlife doesn't work out. And make sure you get some field experience while in school! Volunteer, look at student employment/internship options with feds or state agencies, work summer jobs in the field. Its fun, and the experience will be extremely helpful in getting into grad school and beyond.

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Richard Gomez in San Antonio, Texas

57 months ago

Thank you for the information. Might just skip the BS in Biology and go straight to Texas Tech for a BS in Wildlife Management and if I stay at Texas Tech then a MS in Wildlife Science. If not then I will go to A&M University for my MS in Wildlife Science. I know A&M has a job board on there site that list everywhere in the US where there are openings for Internship or actual job openings in this field.

wfsc.tamu.edu/jobboard/

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Colton Robbins in San Marcos, Texas

57 months ago

Hello everyone, I am a wildlife biology student at Texas State University and I want to ask anyone who has been in the business a few or more years: what's it like living the lifestyle of a wildlife biologist?

From what I've found it seems like a beginner wildlife biologist has to move several times a year, travel all over the country, handle getting shot down at 20 different job interviews before you finally get a job that'll last a whole 6-8 months, and then do it all over again. This also seems like it would make staying in touch with family hard, as well as making friends, and I can't even imagine being in a romantic relationship/ being married while doing all this. How do you people/superhumans do it?

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MontanaWildlife in Bozeman, Montana

57 months ago

If you are young and unattached it is certainly easier to just up and move whenever a new opportunity presents itself and the ability to do so is a huge asset if you are serious about being in the field for the long haul. I have to say that I look back very fondly on my years as a roving technician and if I had to do it again, I wouldn't change anything. I've been able to work in some of the coolest places around, and have had opportunities to do some really fun things and meet some really great people. I would actually encourage any young aspiring biologist to do just that- it exposes you to many more issues and perspectives than staying in one place and helps build a professional network. Getting shot down on job interviews isn't the end of the world. It happens to us all! I've actually found that mass-emailing of the resume when I'm job searching is more effective than trying to play it safe and only applying for the few jobs I think I'd safely get.
I haven't lived within about 1000 miles of my family since I left for college, and at times that has been difficult. But on the flip side, I am always an excuse for them to take a nice vacation and come see a new place. I see my family for 1 or 2 weeks a year and otherwise exchange lots of emails/phone calls, which works for me. I think the issue of how far you can stand being from family is very personal and you have to experiment a little and find the balance that works for you. I met my husband on one of my seasonal jobs, which meant we spent 6 months dating long distance before I took the plunge and decided I would put the relationship first this time instead of the career. I moved back, fell into a job which turned permanent and haven't regretted any of it. All in all, I've learned that if I try to plan things out they never go like I thought they would so I just go with it. Things always seem to work out.

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Colton Robbins in San Marcos, Texas

57 months ago

Thanks for the info. I don't often get the opportunity to ask people with experience questions about the business so I really appreciate your answer.

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MontanaWildlife in Bozeman, Montana

57 months ago

Colton Robbins in San Marcos, Texas said: Thanks for the info. I don't often get the opportunity to ask people with experience questions about the business so I really appreciate your answer.

I remember being very frustrated by the lack of quality information available. I'm happy to try to provide the types of info I wish I'd had then.

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shrikant in Pune, India

56 months ago

Hello jessica,
i would like to get ph d in wildlife biology.so please tell how should i get guide

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Whateva in Ozark, Missouri

54 months ago

I decided to change careers in my 30's and get a degree in Wildlife Biology. It has been 4 months since I graduated and finding a job has been extremely difficult. I'm very frustrated and sometimes wish I had got that engineering degree instead. I have now applied for jobs in every State except Alaska and California (just escaped from there). Trying to make contacts in Federal positions is useless. I have been to different agency offices in various states and all of them have told me that they have no say in who they get to interview. Many State governments will not hire people from other States. I applied for a job hanging moth traps on trees for damn near minimum wage and didn't get the job. lol. Experience is far more important than a degree. I would not recommend a Masters in this field unless you already have experience.

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stacy in Escource, France

54 months ago

cupressiana in Morganville, New Jersey said: If any of you want to discuss this topic with me more thoroughly or just want to talk to someone, who is in a similar situation as yourself, you can email me at cupressiana85@gmail. com

Hi Cupressiana,

I share the same sentiments with you. Though I have been working like 10 years since I graduated, I wasn't exactly happy, till I took some time to think through. And hey, I too would like to work in wildlife environment to discover my long lost interest in nature, and is thinking of a career change. But being 34 soon, I really wonder if I should do so, and having been out of touch with studies for so long. Furthermore, I did not even study biology before. So I'm hoping if anyone out here can give some advice. I'm thinking of doing some online studies and found this website. How reliable or useful is it? www.animal-job.co.uk/animal-care-courses.html.

Thanks in advance for your replies.

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MontanaWildlife in Bozeman, Montana

54 months ago

Whateva- I wouldn't get too discouraged after just 4 months of job searching. That really isn't a very long time in the wildlife world, and seasonal hiring is just now really hitting it's peak for most agencies. I can't emphasize persistence enough. Getting the first job is by far the most difficult. Once you've got some connections and experience, it's amazing how much easier it is to learn about opportunities. Each agency has it's own hoops and weird hiring issues- that's just a part of government! I would be curious to see what you are considering "experience". Not all experience comes from a job. You must have some experience/interests with the outdoors to have made you want to become a wildlife professional in the first place. Hunting, camping, hiking, fishing, etc. all give you at least some level of skills and knowledge- backcountry camping, navigation, fish or wildlife identification skills. If you haven't already, I would look at your hobbies or outdoor interests and figure out what concrete skills actually do have. For example, if you are a birder or a bird hunter, you probably have excellent bird id skills. That should absolutely be in your resume (include years of experience) and at least initially you should apply for jobs for which this "experience" has qualified you. Also, another place to job hunt would be NGO's- there are tons of non-governmental jobs out there that often pay just as well if not better than government. They work on a wide variety of research, conservation, and contract work. Don't give up, and good luck! If you have specific questions, I'm always willing to help if I can.

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NRK in Jacksonville, Florida

52 months ago

I majored in environmental studies, just recently got a job with an engineering and planning firm making "good" money for entry level (46k)
LEARN GIS!
the way I see it you can either work for the state making peanuts for years before you get promoted or work for a private firm that wants you to use your experince to jump through environmental policy loopholes so they can do whatever work they want to

My major is arguably easier than bio, and im doing fine. Its all about being well rounded as well as prof experince.
I also have a planning certification, and a minor in bio.
but I heard someone say it earlier and they know what the are saying LEARN GIS there are hundreds of applications for the program from logistics to environmental concerns.

My advice: choose a major that will allow you to work in multiple fields.

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Sarah in Winchester, Virginia

50 months ago

i want to have a career in wildlife biology but im not sure how to get there. i dont want to go very far away for school but i realize i might have too.

would it be better to go straight for a bs in wildlife bio or animal science or biology and then go for a masters in wildlife or what?

i just want to know what will work, its something i really wanna do though i was also wondering specifically what types of jobs i could do having a degree in wildlife bio. and what those job descriptions are. my internet research isnt going to well. ive read a ton of these posts and some are helpful but others arent.

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MontanaWildlife in Bozeman, Montana

50 months ago

You don't necessarily have to go far away for school. The type of job you could do will depend largely on what degree you get. Some of the common options people have for their bachelor's include regular biology, wildlife biology, animal science, zoology, fish and wildlife management, or ecology. In my experience, a wildlife degree or option is best if you want to work in this field. With a bachelor's degree, you are qualified for most entry level seasonal/temporary wildlife technician jobs (the outside jobs which can range from doing surveys to building fences and spraying weeds). You are also qualified for game warden or ranger jobs (basically law enforcement)in most agencies. You are technically qualified for entry level or term biologist positions but you will be competing against people with Masters for those positions. In general, most permanent biologist positions require a Master's in wildlife, zoology, ecology, or another closely related subject. With a Master's you could start as a biologist and work your way up to a supervisory biologist or wildlife manager, depending on the organization you work for. Typically for government jobs, the higher you go the less time you spend outside or actually working with animals and the more time you spend writing reports, evaluating and assessing management, analyzing data, and making management recommendations to those above you.

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donovan94 in Sacramento, California

50 months ago

I am a senior in high school in Sacramento,California and my adult life is about to start, and i need help on what i need to study in college to be a wildlife biologist or some kind of study that will help my dream career to work with wildlife. I want help and answers from a real person that i want to be when i become a contributing member of society, instead of people around me who don't understand why i want to work with wildlife my whole entire life. Please and thank you.

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Career Changer in Mount Vernon, Ohio

46 months ago

Thanks Montana Wildlife for your reply, I checked out USAJOBs and found a Wildlife Biologist job in my area with the US Department of Fish and Wildlife. It listed a bachelors degree in Natural Resource Management as an acceptable basic requirement. A post for a natural resource specialist also list that degree as a basic requirement. I'm thinking of pursuing a graduate degree in Natural Resource Management designed for career changers like me.(approx 36 semester hrs) My undergrad degree is in Business Administration. If I earn a Masters in Natural Resource Management, will the absence of a science undergrad hurt my chances of landing a government job?

Also, I was encouraged when I read on the Wildlife Biologist posting that work in that field whether compensated or NOT would count as qualifying experience for the position. Does anyone know if it is standard practice to accept that kind of experience for similar government jobs?

Thanks for your help!

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