Wildlife Management Careers: Job Descriptions & Salary Info

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What are the pros and cons of a wildlife management career? Get real job descriptions, career outlooks and salary information to see if becoming a wildlife management professional is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Career in Wildlife Management

Wildlife managers protect natural habitats and help wildlife coexist with the modern world through utilizing environmental sciences and conservation management best practices. There are three specific careers in wildlife management that may interest you: wildlife biologist, conservation technician and conservation scientist. Consider the following pros and cons of each to determine the right career path for you in the wildlife management industry.

Zoologist and Wildlife Biologist Forest and Conservation Technician Forester and Conservation Scientist
Career Overview Zoologists and wildlife biologists study and work with animals and animal habitats. Conservation technicians work to measure and improve natural areas like rangeland and forests. Conservation scientists manage natural areas, wildlife and resources.
Education Requirements At least a bachelor's, but a master's degree or doctorate is needed for some positions At least an associate's degree At least a bachelor's degree, but a master's degree or doctorate is needed for some positions
Program Length 3-5 years for a bachelor's, 1-2 more for a master's degree and 4-5 more for a doctorate 1-2 years for an associate's degree, 3-5 years for a bachelor's degree 3-5 years for a bachelor's, 1-2 more for a master's degree and 4-5 more for a doctorate
Certification and Licensing Licensing is rarely if ever required Licensing is rarely if ever required Credentialing is mandated in sixteen states and is necessary for certain positions
Work Experience Varies Varies Varies
Job Outlook for 2012-2022 Below average growth (5%) compared to all occupations* Declining growth (-4%) compared to all occupations * Below average growth (3%) compared to all occupations*
Mean Salary (2014) Roughly $63,230* Roughly $37,990* Roughly $64,420*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Wildlife Biologist

As a wildlife biologist, you'll typically conduct scientific research on various wildlife populations and habitats. Wildlife biology is a type of zoology focusing on specific types of wild animals. You'll often research and study the ways in which animals interact with their natural environment and the modern industrial world. Evolution, animal behavior, animal development and genetics are all specialty areas of wildlife you might work in or study. In some cases, you'll give presentations and make wildlife management recommendations to government policy-makers.


Although a bachelor's degree may be enough in many cases, you may need to earn a master's or doctoral degree in animal science, wildlife biology, zoology or a related discipline. You'll need to gain several years of experience for many jobs, gain a strong reputation in the field and have a body of research work to present certain employers with.

Here are a few wildlife biologist jobs that were posted online in December 2012:

  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was hiring a wildlife biologist for the Montana-area. Among the four categories that applicants would be placed in included best qualified and qualified. Not only was a 4-year degree required, but also a specific major like wildlife biology and specific possible course credits like general zoology, invertebrate zoology and vertebrate zoology.
  • In Virginia, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service was looking for a wildlife biologist with a 4-year biological science degree or a combination of a degree and experience.
  • A forest management company in Idaho was seeking a wildlife biologist to manage wildlife and water quality over an area of 700,000 acres. At least five years of experience and a bachelor's degree in wildlife and/or fisheries sciences or a related discipline were required.

Standing Out

There are a number of measures that you can take to stand out as a wildlife biologist. By selecting an area of expertise like mammals or fish, you'll be more attractive to employers hiring managers related to these areas. Your previous research work can also help to set you apart from other wildlife biologists.

Conservation Technician

Typically, conservation technicians are responsible for researching, maintaining and helping to improve natural lands and animal habitats. Although you'll often work under a conservation manager or scientist, you'll also be in charge of workers and managing certain units. Job duties may include controlling fires, planting trees, dealing with ocean populations, determining property lines and making sure that certain lands are protected. In some cases, you'll also be in charge of training employees and personnel.


The number of years of work experience that you'll need often depends on the employer. Extensive on-the-job training is common both in the field and behind the scenes, and you may be required to gain an area of expertise like fire control or fishery-management. You may also need to earn an associate's or bachelor's degree in forestry, natural resources conservation, conservation science or a related field. Geographic information system (GIS) skills and an understanding of computer modeling can be helpful for certain jobs.

Potential employers posted the following positions on the Internet in December of 2012:

  • In a number of locations like Montana, Idaho and California, the U.S. Department of Agriculture sought a conservation technician with smokejumper skills. These skills involve parachuting from a plane into forest areas to suppress fires. While this position isn't an immediate management position, a 4 -year degree in range management or forestry is recommended for the job.
  • The U.S. Bureau of Land Management was offering two different conservation technician positions in different parts of Idaho. A bachelor's degree in forestry or a related field and at least 12 months of experience in the field were the basic requirements.
  • In Alabama, the forest service agency of the U.S. Department Of Agriculture was looking to fill four different conservation technician positions. These jobs specifically involved fishery-management and were to last about six months. A bachelor's degree and at least a year of specialized experience in the field were required.

Standing Out

Choosing a specific area of expertise can often help you stand out from other conservation technicians in the job market. For example, you could choose to concentrate on range management. The Society of Range Management offers educational certification paths that could potentially bolster your resume and job prospects. You could choose to become a Certified Professional in Rangeland Management or Certified Range Management Consultant through this organization.

Conservation Scientist

As a professional conservation scientist or forester, you'll often be in charge of managing teams of conservation technicians and workers. You'll manage the wildlife and land in a variety of different natural environments. In the U.S., forestry is one of the most common environments. Negotiating land-use, limiting industrial damage, protecting natural habitats, balancing budgets and designing plans are all common parts of the job.


Although educational requirements may vary, you'll usually need to earn at least a bachelor's degree and often a master's or doctoral degree in conservation science, biology or a related field. Although the amount of experience you'll need varies according to the employer, it's usually a number of years. Sixteen states offer sponsored programs through which you can earn essential credentials in the field. You may also earn accreditation through the Society of American Foresters.

In December 2012, employers posted the following conservation science jobs online:

  • Supervising a staff of research analysts, office technicians and environmental scientists was part of job description for a forest conservation scientist position in the state of California. This was a six-month position at the end of which a candidate's performance would be reviewed and considered for longer-term employment.
  • In Pennsylvania, an environmental/ecological scientist with an expertise in oil was sought by a land surveillance company to manage environmental planning, wetland delineation, mitigation, conservation efforts and more. A bachelor's degree in environmental science or a related field and 7-10 years of experience were required.
  • A conservation manger was sought in Idaho by an international conservation organization. A minimum of three years of natural resource management experience and a bachelor's degree were required.

Standing Out

Earning extra certification can often help you gain the expertise and bolster your resume to get ahead as a conservation scientist. Fore example, you could officially become a Certified Forester through the Society of American Foresters (SAF). In addition to this, the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) offers a plethora of wildlife conservation information and resources that can be useful to your level of expertise. The WWF and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) provide an official method of forest and timber inspection and maintenance.

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