Wildlife Biologist Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

A Wildlife Biologist, or Fish and Wildlife Biologist, is responsible for studying animals and their ecosystems. Their duties include tagging animals and helping them relocate to areas with more resources they need, monitoring species’ populations in a certain area and working with construction companies to ensure that commercial or residential developments won’t negatively affect the species in the area.

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Wildlife Biologist duties and responsibilities

Wildlife Biologists have many responsibilities. Some duties are:

  • Studying animals in their natural habitats to understand their environments
  • Making recommendations about animal habitat and care and planning for wildlife environments
  • Estimating plant and animal populations
  • Classifying animals based on genetic data taken from animals
  • Disseminating information through scientific articles and information for the public

What does a Wildlife Biologist do?

Wildlife Biologists typically work for non-profit organizations, research laboratories or government agencies to learn more about animal species and provide valuable information about their role in an ecosystem. They work closely with other Wildlife Biologists to conduct research and perform tests on ecosystems. Their job is to help classify animal species, interact with species up close and write scientific reports based on their findings to inform those in their field and members of the public. They may also be responsible for traveling for their job to study species in their natural environments.

Wildlife Biologist skills and qualifications

A Wildlife Biologist primarily has skills in the sciences. However, Wildlife Biologists should also have:

  • Strong analytical skills to analyze data
  • Science skills, especially about animal and environmental subjects
  • Math skills to weigh, measure and compute
  • Problem-solving skills to analyze data
  • Computer skills to process data
  • Equipment skills with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to find their location and that of animals
  • Communication skills to speak with people about research, their experiences and advocacy for the environment

Wildlife Biologist salary expectations

The average salary for a Wildlife Biologist in the United States is $62,976 per year. This is the average, but compensation varies depending on bonus packages. The salary estimates are based on salaries submitted anonymously to Indeed by Wildlife Biologist employees and users as well as being collected from job advertisements on Indeed.   

Wildlife Biologist education and training requirements

A Wildlife Biologist requires a bachelor’s degree for the minimum education. Government and other employers prefer a master’s degree or doctorate. Biologist degrees usually require coursework in basic biology, wildlife conservation and management. Population dynamics, animal behavior, ecology, genetics, zoology, animal anatomy and physiology are critical for biologist education. A background in botany, demographics and statistics, chemistry and wildlife or environmental law is useful to biologists. Certification, such as the Certified Wildlife Biologist (CWB), is available from The Wildlife Society.

Wildlife Biologist experience requirements

To advance beyond entry-level Wildlife Biologist positions, a person interested in going further in their career must have a master’s degree or a Ph.D. Several years of experience are useful for someone working as a Wildlife Biologist. Work in facilities of an accredited institution such as zoos and aquariums belonging to the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), Zoological Association of America (ZAA) and Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) is important. Belonging to an institution that has been USDA approved under the Animal Welfare Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty and the Marine Mammal Protection Act is essential.

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Frequently asked questions about Wildlife Biologists

 

What is the difference between a Wildlife Biologist and a Zoologist?

Both Wildlife Biologists and Zoologists seek to perform scientific research on animal species. They also both need to obtain a bachelor’s degree in an area like wildlife biology. They differ in their work environments and job focus areas. For example, Wildlife Biologists work for research laboratories, government agencies or non-profit organizations. 

In contrast, Zoologists typically work at zoos, aquariums and animal conservation facilities. Because of their different work environments, Wildlife Biologists focus more on monitoring animal populations and how they interact with different ecosystems. In contrast, Zoologists focus on monitoring a specie’s health and ensuring they have the proper diet and treatments.

 

What are the daily duties of a Wildlife Biologist?

On a typical day, a Wildlife Biologist starts by checking on the status of samples they took from field experiments. They work on scientific reports and develop hypotheses with their coworkers. Throughout their workday, Wildlife Biologists travel with their team to different areas where they know a particular animal species resides. They take photos of animals, record their movements and eating habits and collect stool samples to learn more about their diet.

 

What qualities make a good Wildlife Biologist?

A good Wildlife Biologist is someone who has a passion for animal species and their ecosystems. They have a tremendous desire to learn, which drives their curiosity and research efforts. Further, a good Wildlife Biologist has excellent written communication abilities, which allows them to take what they learned in their research and turn it into a comprehensive article or research report. A good Wildlife Biologist also seeks to help the public learn more about the important connection between animal species, ecosystems, and the human population.

 

Who does a Wildlife Biologist report to?

Wildlife Biologists usually report to a Senior Wildlife Biologist when working on field projects. These individuals act as a point of communication for their team and director, the methods they use for evaluating, collecting and testing samples from an ecosystem. Wildlife Biologists may also report to a Wildlife Manager or a Wildlife Director to receive assignments and ask questions.

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