Wildlife biology as a career?

Get new comments by email
You can cancel email alerts at anytime.
Comments (101 to 150 of 178)
Page:  « Previous   1  2  3  4  Next »   Last »

MontanaWildlife in Bozeman, Montana

33 months ago

In response to LMVM, wildlife disease is a growing specialty and there are more and more opportunities for wildlife disease specialists. However, these positions usually require more specialized coursework or experience than a general wildlife biologist position. I work for a regional/national wildlife disease office and in my experience most wildlife biologists might have experience with one or two common diseases but that's about it. Disease is just not part of most wildlife curricula. There are pros and cons to staying generalized versus specializing. There are generally fewer job opportunities in the specialty and you may be viewed as being too specialized for more general positions. Or you can stay generalized, but may not be qualified for the specialty jobs if an opportunity came up. That's something you have to weigh for yourself. Keep in mind that each path would likely require some different coursework.
If you decide disease is where you want to be, I would bite the bullet and transfer to a good wildlife program, and probably follow it with a Master's at a school with a wildlife disease program. The coursework is likely much more important if you decide to specialize than if not. In the meantime, I would take as much wildlife and plant coursework as possible, and if you want to pursue disease I would choose Parasitology over Entomology.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No Reply - Report abuse

lecycliste in San Jose, California

33 months ago

I'm presently completing a two year A.S. degree in Park Management. I'm 55 years old, and have two degrees in electrical engineering.

I don't think you're too old to be starting at the bottom at age 26!!

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (1) / No Reply - Report abuse

RyanMiller25 in Thetford, United Kingdom

33 months ago

Continued...
After reading many of the posts, I understand how difficult it is getting a job in this field. I am genuinely very interested and keen and will definitely consider voluntary work. But, in the USFWS’s Volunteer Application they ask about residency location. Of course, I don’t live in the States now so I would have to put down a British residence which might immediately steer them clear of me and not even consider me. However, my Father lives in the States, Phoenix, so I could relocate very quickly if need be. Would stand better chance getting a paid or voluntary job if I was living in America, even if I wasn’t living near the location of the job I was applying for? Finally, how competitive are voluntary positions? If they are not very competitive then I may find myself in the US sooner than I realize. But the last thing I want to do is relocate to the States only to find work harder to get over there and no way of applying for posts in Britain

The reason why I’m asking all of this is because I’ve just recently finished my MSc and am looking for work in Britain. However, with every rejection I feel less and less sure that I will land a job in this field (in Britain), so I wanted to widen my horizons by including the States. I apologize if any of this is wishy-washy, vague or nebulous.

Any help will be greatly appreciated (!), especially from those that were, or are, in a similar situation.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No Reply - Report abuse

RyanMiller25 in Thetford, United Kingdom

33 months ago

This this the first part of a long post. Somehow I think I submitted them in the wrong order...
Hello everyone. I've read many of the very interesting posts. Many of my questions have already been answered. However, there are still a few unanswered questions. I'm a dual citizen (US/British) and have done all my education in England where our university degrees are very different. For instance, we don't have an explicit credits system; we just enrol on a degree course and from there, there is very little choice in what one studies (i.e. essentially, every student studies exactly the same stuff), hence why we don't have a credits system. So…will I find it difficult getting a job as a wildlife biologist/technician given that I have an MSc in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation from Imperial College London?

I am currently reading a USFWS document, "Recognition of Foreign Qualifications" but it seems very wishy-washy, vague, nebulous. For example a passage reads: "Both employers and licensing authorities will usually expect, or require, additional steps before you are fully qualified to work, such as experience, internships or apprenticeships, examinations, supervised probations, additional education or training, background checks, and possibly others." Does this mean that one may need these "things" just to work in the States, period; or just for that particular job? Also, does it then mean that I will have to get my “foreign” education evaluated every time I apply for a job, or just every time I apply for a job from a different organisation?

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No Reply - Report abuse

MontanaWildlife in Bozeman, Montana

33 months ago

I'm not sure you are going to find the job situation any easier here in the States, and in your particular situation it may actually be more difficult than average to get a job here. For any Federal agencies, I believe you must have been a US citizen for a minimum of 3 years to be eligible for employment based on what I've learned from a co-worker of my husband's who's wife is Canadian with a MSc in wildlife. So she is unable to work for the Feds for the time being. She is working a temp job for the state, so you may be able to find work for a state agency here. However, many states do have a residency requirement (they only hire state residents) so you'd want to investigate that before you decide whether to come over or not. As for the evaluation of your college curriculum, that is a requirement for all Federal jobs. I'm already a Fed employee and every time I apply for a Fed job, I have to resubmit transcripts and they evaluate them to make sure I'm "qualified". Transcripts are generally a requirement for applicants here, so I would imagine you should expect them to be scrutinized for each job that you apply for. It can be a real headache for those educated here. I have no experience or knowledge of what other hassles might come up if you are qualifying based on foreign education. I know there are wildlife folks around who have come from other countries, so it can be done. Volunteering can be competitive depending on the nature of the work and the location, but in the current budget climate, paid positions are being slashed and agencies are having to rely more heavily on volunteers to get things done so there are likely to be a number of volunteer opportunities to be had anywhere you went. The best thing to do is show up, be willing to do anything, and do a good job. If you can do that, they'll usually try their best to work you into some of the "fun" duties and they think of you when a paid opportunity comes up.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (2) / No Reply - Report abuse

RyanMiller25 in Thetford, United Kingdom

33 months ago

Cheers MontanaWildlife for your really thorough reply. A few clarifications: I am actually a US citizen and have been since the day I was born. Incidentally, I was born in America. You said that most states give priority to state residents. How long after moving to a state are you classed as a resident of that state: is it immediate or does it take time, say 3 months?

That's a little irritating to have to get your education evaluated every single time you apply for a job. I not sure what the situation is with people who obtained their education in the States, but this means that I'll have to fork out cash every time I apply for a job. I'm not even sure how much this service costs; lets hope it's not much?

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No Reply - Report abuse

MontanaWildlife in Bozeman, Montana

33 months ago

Apologies for my assumption regarding citizenship. That makes things much simpler! I wouldn't say most states require you to be a resident, just some. For example, where I first started out (Colorado), you had to be a state resident to apply for permanent positions (though not for seasonal/temp work). However here in Montana, I am aware of no such requirement. It depends on the state, and is something that should be easy to determine from the announcement/application info. Also, establishment of residency will depend on the state, but may not even be an issue if they have no such requirement for employment.

As far as the education verification, I read up on the foreign qualifications hoops you mentioned. I'm no expert, but I read that to mean that you would need to have a private evaluation service look at all of your paperwork (transcripts, syllabi, who knows what they'll ask for) to determine whether the education you received is comparable to that received by those in similar degree programs in the US. This should be a one-time deal. You should not need to have this done each time you apply for a job. I would imagine you will receive some kind of certificate or report stating either yes, it is the same or no, and some reason why. If not, you might have to pursue some additional training, internships, or something to remedy any "deficiencies" before you are deemed "qualified". If they determine you have received equivalent education, then you would likely need to provide copies of your college transcripts or whatever paperwork you have to show coursework, a copy of the report done by the evaluation service, and any other required application paperwork (resume, etc.)each time you apply for a job. You'd need to verify that this is in fact the way it works, but that's an interpretation from someone familiar with Fed speak. Hope it helps!

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No Reply - Report abuse

Wildlife1234 in Newport News, Virginia

33 months ago

I am currently a Junior getting my undergrad degree in Biology, and want to continue on to get my Master's Degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Conservation. However, I am trying to gain experience, but cannot find internships or volunteer opportunities. Does anyone know of a website, any agencies/companies, or anything to help me gain some experience?

Thanks!

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No Reply - Report abuse

vetchick in Grand Blanc, Michigan

33 months ago

what do you like best about being a wildlife biologist?

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (2) / No (1) Reply - Report abuse

JarrodTaylor in Colby, Kansas

33 months ago

Hello all, I live in northwest Kansas and have been a avid hunter all my life. I have always had a passion for the outdoors and have also wanted to become a wildlife biologist, but like many started working wright out of high school. I really would like to focus on quial, pheasant,deer and also the fish aspect of being a biologist. I'm lacking an few classes to grabbing onto my Associates in Applied Science. I was wondering if anyone has advise on finishing up my degree with online classes without taking so many classes at the community college where I live, as I have a full time job and am limited to evening only. I do realize online classes are not always the best, but am hoping they will benifet enough for myself and furthering my career.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No Reply - Report abuse

MontanaWildlife in Bozeman, Montana

33 months ago

In general, availability of wildlife courses online has been limited until very recently, and at that I'm not sure how widely available they are. I know Oregon State offers some courses online, and South Dakota State University has at least some fish courses online. I'm not sure if you have to be enrolled in a degree program at those institutions to have access to those courses or not- you'd need to check with each school to figure out what the requirements might be. Keep in mind though that even some online courses still have a required lab component that you have to attend.

Regarding the question about volunteer/internship opportunities - the best thing you can do is show up at your local refuge or state game and fish office and ask. Face time pays off. TAMU Wildlife Jobs Board (Google it) also sometimes lists opportunities. But more often than not, if there is a place you would be interested in working you are better off to show up (or call directly if they aren't located near you) and ask someone. At the very least, they should be able to direct you to a volunteer coordinator or someone who knows about opportunities.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (2) / No Reply - Report abuse

JarrodTaylor in Colby, Kansas

33 months ago

Thank you very much for your reply. It was very helpful. Take care.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No Reply - Report abuse

Namuuya in Lusaka, Zambia

32 months ago

iam also a student in the field of wildlife biology at the copperbelt university in zambia, its a new program with the school of natural resources, my advise to those who are still wondering what is involved, its not all about working in the bush or game parks but u can also work as a conservation biologist, all you can work as a species and protected areas specialist thats if your major is in management or biology itself. am currently doing my attachments with the world wide fund for nature in lusaka and would love to still have an opportunity to work outside my country, would you be of help
thank you

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (1) / No Reply - Report abuse

MontanaWildlife in Bozeman, Montana

32 months ago

I think it is something of a dream for many biologists to get out of their own country to experience some of the "exotic" wildlife and conservation challenges in other countries. Open positions in lots of countries can be found on many jobs boards, and some international non-profits have opportunities to work abroad. To get started, I would check out:
TAMU jobs board
Society for Conservation Biology
The Wildlife Society
The Nature Conservancy
World Wildlife Fund
Wildlife Conservation Society

Obviously there are many more, but these are the ones I'm most familiar with. If you have a specific country of interest, you could try searching for their wildlife bureau as well.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (1) / No Reply - Report abuse

Tigers2012 in Michigan

32 months ago

I graduated with a degree in wildlife and conservation biology in 2007. I went into college studying the one thing I have passion and a desire for and I couldnt think of anything else I would have wanted to do. Its 2012, and I am still looking for a permanent job in this field. I really dont mean to be negative and I have a love for this line of work, but I am gonna be honest. Since 2007 when I graduated I have had many temporary biology jobs typcially 4-5 months and then the grant money ends. I have interviewed for some permanent positions with state, federal, and other local agenices, but am always the "runner up". Sometimes this field just gets so discouraging. It seems like there are always plentiful temp. jobs in conservation, enviromental, and wildlife biology, but very few permanent positions. When I am able to apply and interview for permanent positions its EXTREMELY competitive. I have experience with the Nature Conservancy and Land Conservancies, but have a hard time finding permanent work. I guess whats so hard is how few and far between professional permanent positions their seems to be in this career field. I see most of my friends with decent entry level permanent positions and hear I am still "looking" for that permanent job. Ok so enough of the ranting!

I guess my advice for someone who really loves this type of work (Conservation, environmental, Wildlife...etc) would be to really think about your decision. Its a very competitive field, with few permanent positions compared to most other professional fields. There are tons of temp. seasonal positions, but much fewer long term ones. I think if I had to do it all over again, I would get a minor in biology and major in something that has higher job placement and growth. I cant imagine trying to raise a family and find a job in this field...it would be very tough.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (7) / No Reply - Report abuse

MontanaWildlife in Bozeman, Montana

32 months ago

I have to agree with previous poster. The competitiveness of the wildlife field can not be over stated. I came out of college in a relatively good job market, and it took me 6 years to land a permanent job. The situation has gotten much worse with the recession. When people get upset about government spending, wildlife is always one of the first things to get cut (both gov agency hiring and funding to other agencies or NGO's for wildlife programs) and the job market for the foreseeable future will continue to shrink. While the number of wildlife majors graduating continues to increase, almost all new grads are extremely naive about the long-term realities of finding a job in this field. Unfortunately, most wildlife programs give students zero education on what it's going to be like to find a job in the real world.

On the plus side, if you are getting interviews you must be a pretty good candidate or they wouldn't bother, especially when you consider the number of applicants that are likely applying. If you aren't selected, ask for feedback, learn from it and don't give up...

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (7) / No Reply - Report abuse

Tigers2012 in Michigan

32 months ago

Thanks MontanaWildlife! I agree with you 100%. There is no counsel or advice for young people going into college about which degree fields have promise and high job placement for the future. Its really sad that academic counselors and others in the college relm do not inform young people like myself about degree fields that have next to no job placement. I love biology, but if someone would have just told me that this degree field has very few permanent jobs and you may want to reconsider a degree in something that you can make a living in. The worst part about it is college grads get out of school in high hopes that because of their degree they will get a job within reasonable time. Also, like Montana said, this type of field is the first thing to be cut and isn't viewed as an important economic field that drives our economy like many other professions.

To be honest from what I have experienced I can't point someone in the direction of this field if they wanted to make a living at it. I would not want to see someone else go through the struggle of finding a job in this field. Very few permanent jobs, low pay, and extremely competitive.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (2) / No Reply - Report abuse

lecycliste in Oakland, California

32 months ago

Sometimes you have to go with what you love.

I got a couple EE degrees from University of Illinois in Champaign/Urbana, and had three job offers to choose from when I got out. I discovered over 25 years designing and managing engineers in the semiconductor industry that it was an extremely stressful way to develop someone else's neat electronic products.

Don't get me wrong, it was fun at times, but I'd rather do something that gets me out of a cubicle. That's why I'm almost done with a Park Management degree, and doing county park and USFWS internships now.

If you have desire and a good work ethic, something will open up eventually.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (1) / No (1) Reply - Report abuse

MontanaWildlife in Bozeman, Montana

32 months ago

The irony of the timing of this post made me smile. Last night I was talking to a friend who is a biologist with a state agency. We were commiserating over the recent state of affairs in government work, and he said (no joke)"Sometimes it's fun, but I get so tired of the stress and being cooped up in the office all the time". Guess it's all relative...

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (1) / No Reply - Report abuse

FoxFolk in Los Angeles, California

32 months ago

I'm determined to get a job in a Biology department. All I need help on is exactly what classes and what sort of things I have to do. I know volunteering and internship is a great way to help but I want to know what classes and which colleges could help me out in that area. I want to work in either a wildlife refuge or anything that could help with wildlife. I'm only a tenth grader and really have that ambition in doing this. Please help and give information. Thank you. By the way, I'm only a tenth grader.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No (1) Reply - Report abuse

ocelotocelot in Austin, Texas

29 months ago

Having read through this post it sounds as if experience may be preferred over advanced degrees. So to make sure I understand this correctly, I hope someone can answer this for me: if the wildlife biology form asks if I have A. One year experience or B. A Masters or higher and I have a PhD that included over one year of field based research, than which is the preferred answer-A or B? Also, my PhD is in a "related field" that on the surface may not sound all that related until you see what my dissertation was on and what my coursework background was in-do the recruiters take the time to look past that or do they simply look at the "major"? Many thanks!

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No Reply - Report abuse

MontanaWildlife in Bozeman, Montana

29 months ago

I wouldn't say experience is preferred over advanced degrees. It's just that if you've only got one or the other you probably aren't going to be a really strong candidate. It's actually pretty easy to meet the necessary qualifications detailed in a job ad. The trick is to meet the qualifications being presented by the rest of the applicant pool. There are certainly hiring officials out there who view "related degrees" less favorably than Wildlife degrees. Some employers are really concerned about what field or area of emphasis a degree was in, and some aren't. Some will look past the major at the coursework, but not all of them will. In your case, I would select the option that you are qualified based on education, since the advanced degree is usually a very specific trigger point at which applicants get thrown out. But if your degree is in a related field, your resume is going to need to really play up your relevant experience.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No Reply - Report abuse

sadeq in Rafsanjan, Iran, Islamic Republic of

28 months ago

i read all comments about the topic. that was interesting. it seems finding a job in the field of wildlife biology is alike in all countries around the world. finally a graduated person desperates and just surf on the web and check his facebook on a daily basis.
:(

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No Reply - Report abuse

sadeq in Rafsanjan, Iran, Islamic Republic of

28 months ago

i forgot to say about our problem, that is government's fault in my country. although our environment really needs wildlife biologists. really needs but...... irrelevant to your topic. sorry.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No Reply - Report abuse

GrizzlyDreamer in Jacksonville, Florida

28 months ago

I would like to bring up something that might be helpful for those young dreamers (13-25) that are really interested in animals or know for an almost fact that you really want to grow up and help the environment in some way, I recommend checking out a program I went on 2 summers ago called EPI(Ecology Program International). They go to about 5-6 different locations in the world and one of them was Yellowstone. On this program I had the opportunity to help multiple people that are being paid to do what I want to do for a living. Check out the program. It was awesome and validated what I want to do for the rest of my life.
www.ecologyproject.org

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No Reply - Report abuse

DavidB in Jacksonville, Florida

28 months ago

test comment (having issues posting here)

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No Reply - Report abuse

DavidB in Jacksonville, Florida

28 months ago

GrizzlyDreamer, welcome! I've seen a few Jax folks on here, we're inordinately well represented here, all things considered. That program sounds great - I have seen another similar one and agree that they're great experience.

MontanaWildlife, we talked a bit before, probably a few pages back or so. I am a "non-traditional" student who returned to college in my 30's to embark upon a wildlife career. I was looking at becoming a veterinarian but wanted to get into wildlife. One issue with it was the ratio of the student debt incurred vs the prospects for newly minted vets. I also want to be out in the field. Always was going for an undergraduate degree in wildlife, but things have changed somewhat. Basically vet school was the goal and wildlife was a potential specialization or fallback option, but now wildlife is the focus and vet school is a "maybe later".

Long story short, I've been accepted at the University of Florida, UW in Laramie, and MSU in Bozeman. UF was my focus before (has a vet school too), but in terms of the experience I'm after and where I want to live and work, it was not a good fit. Going to attend MSU - accepted fall 2012 but can (and will need to) defer starting (they allow up to a year). Everyone there as been wonderful and I've been very impressed. Will have to rent or sell our home, got a wife and her autistic brother who lives with us, several pets... lots to do/overcome. But I'm coming, and when I get there I'd be honored if we could get together some time and chat about all of this.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No Reply - Report abuse

GrizzlyDreamer in Jacksonville, Florida

28 months ago

This feed of posts brought me into a weird depression yesterday, after realizing some cold hard facts about this degree. My husband is suggesting that I go into teaching as a major degree and have wildlife biology as a minor. Its upsetting and kinda heartbreaking now. Its difficult thinking that my childhood dreams may never be reachable. I'm ok with the fact that most research is done in the peak season where there's the most animal activity and "easiest to survive out in the wilderness". I'm upset that just like the zoo program I was in, that no matter how hard I try in succeeding, even after I succeed in a degree, the reward afterward may never come. In actuality, zookeepers would have more success and more stable jobs than wildlife researchers. All I want to do is continue what Frank and John Craighead George started in Yellowstone long ago and continue monitoring the ecosystem while monitoring the birth/death rate and human interaction of the grizzly bears.

Sorry for venting. As many people that talk on this forum, I am also frustrated. How does a FL girl succeed in a territory that is a completely different ecosystem and have a job researching while there are perfectly intelligent, experienced "natives" individuals fighting for the same dream? ARG!

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No Reply - Report abuse

HerpinAintEasy in Eureka, California

28 months ago

Hello,
I just want to give some light to this thread.
There is always hope out there. Wildlife is not an impossible field to get into. Especially if you are willing to take advantage of all aspects of wildlife conservation (research, management, policy, activism, etc.)
It is true that you need to start small, build and diversify your experience, and often relocate. If relocating is impossible, do not give up, volunteer everywhere you can as often as you can, this is great on your resume and can lead to job opportunities.
I am a perfect case example. I landed a near-permanent wildlife tech job in my home state (east coast) shortly after undergrad (lucky, and directly because of an internship I had). I decided to leave this position after a couple years for grad school. On summer break and also for 6 months after graduation I worked as a seasonal wildlife tech in western states. I then spent a few months unemployed, volunteered on a wildlife job in Mexico, and low and behold I caught a big break and got a permanent Wildlife Biologist position out West.
I tell this story to show that a career in wildlife can be frustrating, can be a struggle, but, if you keep at it, you can catch a break. I was getting discouraged, and losing faith during my few months of unemployment that I'd be a seasonal tech forever, but, it all worked out.
So, the moral of the story, if Wildlife is your passion, never give up. If you are from Florida and want to work in Wyoming, you can! You might have to volunteer, or do an internship to get experience and build a network of connections, and have some doors open, you might have to be poor for a while, but you can do it!
Best of luck.
Conservation isn't just a career, it's a calling.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (2) / No Reply - Report abuse

MontanaWildlife in Bozeman, Montana

28 months ago

DavidB, glad things are working out for you! Unfortunately we just left the Bozeman area...the hubby accepted a biologist position in eastern MT, so I've had to make the difficult decision to leave my permanent job and rejoin the ranks of the seasonal masses. Did I ever mention that being married to another wildlifer is a whole 'nother ballgame? So it turns out that even the permanent jobs aren't always permanent and many of us find ourselves still battling to find something "permanent" far later into our careers than we had hoped. But we keep plugging away at it because we can't bear the thought of doing anything else! Like Herpin said (fabulous name by the way!), you have to be prepared to do what it takes and not give up. So, here's hoping the search for a permanent job works out, again!

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No Reply - Report abuse

ocelotocelot in Cochranton, Pennsylvania

27 months ago

HI Montana Wildlife, thanks for your reply.
I have both the degree and the 1 year of G11/12 equivalent experience-my dissertation was field intensive (over a year in the field actually) so I have designed and implemented a field study/supervised assistants/dealt with logistics/collected and analyzed data unsupervised/published. That surely should count as one year of experience as they require? What I don't get is they require an advanced degree-yet get so hung up on general courses. Like 9 credits on plants-my undergrad Un. did not even have 3 plant classes to take, and as a grad student you would only take 3 plant classes if your dissertation was somehow on plants. (and the job posting wont be something on plants, just labeled as an "ecologist" or "wildlife biologist" position). So does the fact that I taught General Biology count? What about me having to know the plants in my study areas? Does my independent study on carnivore behavior ecology and evolution and the class I took on primate ecology count towards the "zoology/mammalogy ect" course requirements? The point of graduate school is you are able to learn this stuff on your own, not have to be spoon fed it, so how do you explain that you have the background and does mentioning of all of this in a cover letter (provided they let you upload one) even matter if you are clicking "no" for the Q: "I have taken 9 credits in botany and..."? USA jobs is so frustrating:(

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No Reply - Report abuse

MontanaWildlife in Bozeman, Montana

27 months ago

The federal hiring process is the most ridiculous system I've ever encountered. To be honest, it doesn't matter what you put because your application won't be reviewed by the selecting official, who is the person actually in a position to know how well your experience and education qualify you for the job in question. Your application gets reviewed by someone in HR with a degree in who-knows-what who will count the widgets (the announcement says 9 credits of botany? Check!) and the selecting official will only see the names of the three or so people who finish with the most widgets. They will check your answers to the questions against transcripts and resumes, so supposedly if you answer yes to the botany credit question but it isn't reflected in your transcript, you would be thrown out. However, I've seen people who were shoe-ins not even be referred to the selecting official, and I've seen people who are ridiculously underqualified and lied in their application rank out among the top candidates. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to it sometimes, and it is equally frustrating for the folks on the other end who are trying to hire good people into these positions. Bottom line for you though would be that if you don't have specific credits listed, you'll have to qualify based on experience and education and outline how those meet the requirements in your resume. They do tend to be sticklers on the credits thing - essentially it's their set of basic standards that folks in that job series should have an understanding of to be "well rounded".

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (1) / No Reply - Report abuse

GraniteState in Contoocook, New Hampshire

27 months ago

Hahaha, "They tend to leave out the time spent being cussed out by the public." Too true, good sir, too true.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No Reply - Report abuse

Nicole0701 in Wilmington, Delaware

26 months ago

I must say after reading through this thread I am somewhat depressed! I am 28 years old and after over ten years in the banking and corporate world I realize that only working for money is not for me. I was recently unemployed and it made me start thinking about what I really want to do with the rest of my life. I have always had a passion for animals and the environment and it seemed to only make sense to go back to school to work in a field relating to that. I have been going to the local community college just to get used to going back to school and have been doing very well and was planning on starting school at the University of Delaware for Wildlife Conservation or Wildlife Ecology in the spring. I never expected to be rich entering into this field. I am also willing to travel or move depending on where I can get a job. I had been planning on getting as much volunteer and internship experience that I could since I will be in school for another 4 years. As if starting college at 28 wasn't scary enough, I am now starting to question things after looking at the job outlook for this field and after reading through this thread. I feel like a lot of different things interest me such as research positions, wildlife management, naturalist, wildlife biologist, and also environmental issues and maintaining habitats. I had thought it was maybe a good thing I was open to what I want to specialize in, but now I am not so sure. Again, I do not want to be rich, but I do want to survive. Is it a wise idea to maybe look at other majors while I still can? I really don't want to and want to actually do what matters to me, but definitely second guessing myself. Any words of advice out there?

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (1) / No Reply - Report abuse

HerpinAintEasy in Medford, Oregon

26 months ago

Nicole,
You seem exactly like the kind of person that succeeds in the wildlife field. You don't care about getting rich, you're versatile, and you have a passion for the environment. Volunteering and interning while in school, combined with your ten years of finance experience should help you out a lot. One of the greatest challenges in the environmental field is funding, with many programs being grant funded, and you have a leg up on how the system works.
Best of luck and live the dream!

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No Reply - Report abuse

lecycliste in Hayward, California

26 months ago

Nicole:
It's never too late.

After a 25-year career designing chips, a couple years as a pro wildlife photographer, and 4 more as a technology writer, I went back to school for an A.S. in Park Management. I'm now employed in parks by Santa Clara County, CA.

I'm also 56.

I was a part-time naturalist for the City of Palo Alto last year, but that position didn't work out for a variety of reasons, mostly involving personalities.

So it is possible to go back to school and re-invent yourself several times, especially in your 20s and onwards.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (3) / No Reply - Report abuse

rfassettkelly in Mentor, Ohio

26 months ago

Hi, reading though this post I didn't notice if the question as to what a good minor would be if majoring in wildlife biology, anyone have any suggestions? I am considering going to Oregon State University and would like to know.

Thanks!

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No Reply - Report abuse

JT in Stevens Point, Wisconsin

25 months ago

I am very interested in wildlife and I know that I would do well as a wildlife biologist. I love working with animals and learning about animal behavior and species interactions. However, because of the competitiveness of this field, I am also considering becoming a veterinarian.
I am currently double majoring in Biology and Wildlife Ecology, but my fear is that once I graduate from college I'm not going to find a job as a wildlife biologist. I also don't really know what to expect in this career. I am concerned that if I do become a wildlife biologist, I might be disappointed with the work that I am doing because it might not be what I was expecting. I am trying to get hands-on experience so I know what a wildlife biologist actually does, but my attempts have been unsuccessful so far. I am involved in The Wildlife Society and I aid in research projects to gain familiarity with how the research process works.
Some days I feel that becoming a wildlife biologist is a perfect career choice for me, but other days I question myself and I wonder if this career path is right for me. Although becoming a vet requires more schooling and is more demanding academically, there is a greater chance of getting a job in this career.
I realize that vets make more money than wildlife biologists, however, I am not too concerned about salary; I can work with whatever I make. My main goal is to have a job that I look forward to going to every day. My philosophy has been that good jobs will come to good people and that if you want it bad enough, you will get it.
I guess my main concern is that if I continue with wildlife biology and I end up not liking it, then my past 4+ years have been wasted. I don't know if I should be spending my time now working towards wildlife ecology or towards veterinary science. I know that this situation is tough to give advice for so I won't be disappointed if no one replies to this. Thanks for reading.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No Reply - Report abuse

Northstarr in Edmonton, Alberta

24 months ago

Hello,

I have a bachelors degree already and 10+ years work experience in molecular biology and the environmental field. I want to switch to a career in conservation and wildlife rehabilitation/biology, and looking to go back to school to get some skills.

I have worked in policy and research for so and sitting on a computer all day - I want to change my career focus entirely. I want to be doing more work with my hands, working directly with animals, and moving around outside. My goal is to work with ngo's and non-profit organizations.

Through my work experience I have discovered that I really don't care for academic research at all and have tried looking for course based master's degree in Canada in this field and they don't exist here. I am really not excited to spend 2 years of my life researching one thing and focusing only on theory, and so I have been thinking about going to do a technical diploma in renewable resources. Also, my grades are not that stellar to apply for most masters degrees on the west coast.

I don't care to be a manager, nor am I really caring about making tons of money. I really just want to get out there. I have noticed though over the years how technicians make much less than masters/PhD's, and are treated differently like more inferior. Is this an accurate perception?

In the real world do employers even distinguish the difference between diploma's and master's? (Again I already have a bachelors degree).

Which one is better for what I want to do? diploma vs. graduate degree?

Any help is most appreciated!!! Thank you..

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No Reply - Report abuse

MontanaWildlife in Bozeman, Montana

24 months ago

Yet again, I feel the need to reiterate that just because you go into the wildlife field does not mean you are going to work outside most of the time or get to put your hands on animals. I've worked in wildlife for 12+ years and guess what? Most days I'm on the computer... all day. This is true for almost all folks in professional positions that I know (biologists, managers, etc.). The only ones who actually spend much time outside are the seasonal technicians who are working the lower paid temporary jobs. While I wouldn't say techs are inferior, they are a dime a dozen...everyone wants to work outside so there are often large pools of people begging for these jobs. Just a fact of life. People with advanced degrees usually want a "real" (meaning permanent) position, so they end up taking biologist or manager jobs where they...wait for it....work on a computer all day. To be honest, having an advanced degree probably hastens your ascension to a computer-bound position. Maybe life at an ngo would be different, but I imagine the need to hustle money would result in significant computer time as well. My fear is that you are heading into wildlife with a vision in your head of a job that really doesn't exist. Or maybe I'm getting jaded. Anyone else have some perspective?

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (1) / No Reply - Report abuse

Northstarr in Edmonton, Alberta

24 months ago

To JT - I also struggled with your dilemma, as I think most people do who are figuring out a way to incorporate a career working with animals. The veterinarian route and wildlife biologist route are two completely different things, with their own realities attached to them. Veterinarians deal with blood, surgeries and diagnosing disease, prescribing medications, working long hours, the pay is considered low when you factor in the amount of hours you work and debt, incurring very high debt, and struggling with customers who often are not willing to pay for proper treatment for their pets or who have waited too long and it is the animal that ends up suffering in the end. I saw this firsthand while working in a veterinary clinic. I thought I wanted to go to vet school and actually working in it convinced me that it wasn't for me.

There are lots of forums online - just type in something like realities of being a veterinarian and you will get the same thing. I suggest that you just get out there and volunteer/work as much as possible in both fields so you can see what is a better match for you. As MontanaWildlife said the realities of being a wildlife biologist are just as daunting.

To MontanaWildlife - Thanks for your response, especially the comment that an advanced degree would just hasten a track back to the computer. I already know of the irony of professional biologists being bound to a computer all day, and I noticed this and it seems so backwards to me.

For me at least, I still believe that working with animals in conservation/rehabilitation at ngo's is possible. Again, I am totally not interested in research, management positions, buracreacy, or office bound positions.

Does anyone else have any thoughts on whether or not it matters what type of degree I should pursue for this - diploma vs. master's? I know conservation in practice and rehabilitation are also two very different things, and I am leaning towards rehabilitation.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No Reply - Report abuse

nanxzy121 in Baltimore, Maryland

23 months ago

Hi everyone, I stumbled upon this forum while trying to get more information about careers in wildlife biology. So my situation is unique, I am a chemical engineer by training and my boyfriend is a wildlife researcher specializing on reptiles and amphibians. His research work requires him to travel to remote third world countries for most part of the year. He suggests that the only way the two of us can be really together is if I switch my field to wildlife biology. I am an ardent nature lover, accepted but I don't have any experience whatsoever studying and doing research on wildlife, I have no clue if it will guarantee me financial security and I don't know if I can really tolerate an extreme lifestyle which involves constant shifting and traveling to remote countries. Can I get opinions from people who have made a switch from a different field to wildlife biology? How easy/difficult was it? Hoping for some clarity and advice.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No Reply - Report abuse

Megan in Torrance, California

23 months ago

Nanxzy121
I don't mean to be harsh but just to be with your bf is not a good reason to start a wildlife career. Given the financial uncertainty and tough job market associated with this line of work, you really need to love what you do, be willing to live with very little money, move every 5-6 months anywhere in the country. Even then, its very hard.
If you have the financial resources to help you out while you are working these minimum wage jobs to get the experience, then you might be OK. But if you are self supporting, forget about it. You need to leave a relatively high paying job to take a very low wage, temporary job every 6 months in different locations.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No Reply - Report abuse

hyark89 in Gaithersburg, Maryland

20 months ago

Hi all, I read through this entire forum but I was hoping to get some advice on my specific situation. I majored in mechanical engineering but realized after I graduated that I really wanted to work with wildlife biology/ecology. The problem is, I have no relevant experience coming from a completely unrelated field, so right now I am working an engineering job while taking evening classes at community college to knock out the basics like principles of biology, environmental biology, etc. I'm also looking for any volunteer work, and so far the only thing I found is monitoring bluebird nests. I have no idea if I'm going about this the right way...should I be pursuing another undergraduate degree, or try to apply for graduate school after I finish taking my basic classes? Or should I focus on getting more experience from volunteer work first so that when I do apply for grad school, they will know I am serious? I'm just a bit lost on how to break into this field, having been in engineering all my life (but knowing now that its definitely NOT what I want to do). Any advice would be really appreciated! Thanks

Oh and also if anyone knows of any good volunteer opportunities near Rockville MD, or even DC area, please let me know!

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No Reply - Report abuse

Northstarr in Edmonton, Alberta

20 months ago

Hyark89,

I went through the same thing as you where I tried to break into doing grad school in wildlife conservation after coming from a molecular biology and environmental background where I graduated from over 10 years ago. I already had a biology background and spent several years volunteering in the field, spending lots of time and energy doing this in addition to my full-time day job. I did not take undergraduate courses to upgrade because of time constants/finances. After spending years of doing this learning about the reality of the field, I applied several times to grad schools going this route. Suffice to say, I did not get in and decided to change my career focus away from this field altogether.

I also learned about what being a wildlife biologist is from actually volunteering in so many places. The majority of wildlife biology jobs require a graduate degree. The reality is that you actually spend the majority of time in an office on a computer looking at data and writing reports. You are either working in government on boring things like policies and legislation and fighting with aboriginal groups about resources, or you are working for private industry helping to destroy the very environment that you thought you went to school for to help. If you decide you want to work with feel good non-profits, which is the route I thought I wanted to take, then you definitely will not be out in the field and you will be instead fighting with both governments and industry in an office behind a computer working on changing policies and legislation. Or you can spend your career in academia and deal with having to compete all the time for publications, grants, the constant insecurity and instability of acquiring tenureship and the status of your reputation.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (1) / No Reply - Report abuse

Northstarr in Edmonton, Alberta

20 months ago

If any of these sounds like your cup of tea than go for it, but if you really want to work with actual wildlife and be outside for your career you are better off settling for much less pay and being a wildlife technician, wildlife rehabilitator or environmental educator, all of which you do not need to go to grad school for. I’m sorry to say but many people have an idealized version of what wildlife biology/conservation is that is far from the actual reality of it.

To give you some advice, in academia they don't really care really about volunteer work so much as your grades. It’s all about the grades. They also don't care about the quality and depth of your life experience, nor the fact that you bring other qualities from your previous experience, nor if you are a mature adult with other life responsibilities and hardships that people in their 20's don't have a clue about yet. As a graduate student in science academia they just want machine drones that can spew out high grades as your living wages equate to just above the poverty level, and how well you can stifle your own creative dreams to work as cheap labor to fulfill your PI's (principle investigator) goals. After figuring out the system, I decided I don't want to play in it anymore.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (1) / No Reply - Report abuse

Northstarr in Edmonton, Alberta

20 months ago

My advice to you is to quit your day job and go take a full year or 2 of upper level undergraduate courses, and all the required prerequisites for those. For graduate school you will need uni and not college courses. Or you can keep your day job and spend 2-3 years taking part-time undergraduate university courses, then apply to grad school. Definitely spend some time to volunteer to see if you really are interested in this field. Volunteer with varied sources so you get a good picture, with non-profits, academic research and government. Don’t be naïve about it. Get to know the system of how things work in reality, meaning the relationship between academia, government and industry regarding environmental matters and wildlife. There is a relationship where government supports industry and industry supports academia, so often the work that really needs to be done to “save” or “help” the environment is often left up to the non-profits. Graduate school looks at volunteer work and depth of life experience as a bonus outside of your grades. So I would say just be sure you really know what you are getting into, get ready to give up having a well balanced life for awhile, and focus on just getting high grades in your uni undercourses and getting good academic references.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No Reply - Report abuse

hyark89 in Gaithersburg, Maryland

20 months ago

Northstarr, thank you so much for that in depth response! It was very helpful, and something of a wake up call. Although I'm still pretty sure it is what I want to do even from all the downsides you described, I agree that I probably need to probe a bit more to see for myself what this field is really about. So based on your advice I think I'll continue my plan in taking courses as a part-time student while volunteering.
Thanks!

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No Reply - Report abuse

MontanaWildlife in Bozeman, Montana

20 months ago

I whole-heartedly agree with Northstarr's comments. As you can see from my previous posts, I am constantly concerned that people think they really want to get into wildlife and have an incredibly distorted idea of what the wildlife profession entails. The realities of wildlife work in the US as I've experienced them are pretty much exactly as Northstarr described. Technician positions do not require an advanced degree, but just know that many of your competitors do have them, along with several years of experience (and even at that it's very hard to land a job).

I've been involved in hiring committees for a few years, and in general the process has been the same for almost every technician position...Those with little or no relevant education are tossed out right off the top, closely followed by those with little or no experience. The first folks considered are those with the most experience or education, and there is usually quite a number of those to choose from. Another factor to consider if you are contemplating an actual career change is that many hiring officials have a negative view of folks trying to switch careers to wildlife from something else. In general, I think the perception is that it's yet another "animal lover" who's just looking for something fun to do. Fair or not, it's a reality. Lots of instances where someone previously established in another career applies for a tech job that doesn't require an advanced degree, then doesn't transition well to following directions and doing the menial jobs as a technician. People who didn't come up through the wildlife ranks sometimes think having a wildlife job makes them a "biologist" and I've seen lots of personnel issues arise because of it. So it's definitely a red flag for many supervisors. Not saying you would be a personnel issue....Just that you'd certainly want to be conscious of that stigma as another hurdle to making the transition and be prepared to address it with potential employers.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No Reply - Report abuse

Megan in Pasadena, California

20 months ago

Hyark 89
Same situation here. I majored in engineering with a graduate degree, but realized my true passion for wildlife conservation. I would have to disagree with quitting your job to take classes. Classes will NOT get you a job in this field. I got my 2nd BS in wildlife while working full time in engineering. Was tough but I did it. I was very proactive, went to a number of conferences, talked to a number of professionals and professors. The reality is that with a BS, you are looked at as cheap labor both by the employers and professors. Its not about what you can bring to this field, its about getting their work done for cheap. With a BS, you are a tech working in the field for next to minimum wage, no benefits and also temporary. Sometimes I think employers in this field down right take advantage of people's desire to contribute to the environment and conservation of wildlife. I don't wanna be a billionaire doing this, but I mean who the heck can afford to volunteer for a living? or work a minimum wage job for 4-5 years? its costs money to go to school, live, and breathe. Now, if you accumulate enough experience for a professor to consider you for a graduate position (that's a big IF), then you have another 2 years of working for nothing ahead of you to get a grad degree. Once you have a grad degree and enough experience, then you start to shift into management positions, sitting at a computer and dealing with people and politics.
All together, my experience has been that if you are self supporting and want a semi-stable life, look for something else or get used to eating mac and cheese and living in the ghetto for a while. Sorry to sound jaded, but there is no way to sugar coat this. If you love conservation, the environment and animals, do it on the side. If you love helping sick animals, become a vet.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (2) / No Reply - Report abuse

Page:  « Previous   1  2  3  4  Next »   Last »

» Sign in or create an account to comment on this topic.