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Average Salary
$59,861
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
5%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
824
Job Openings

Wildlife Biologist Careers

It's amazing how intriguing the wildlife habitat is. They have an altogether different dimension to life. Having said that, if the wildlife intrigue you too, and if you have studied enough about it, why not pursue a career as a Wildlife Biologist?

While the job is fascinating, there is interesting stuff to do as well. For example, you will have to study the ecosystem, do research studies, work to save endangered species, plan conservative processes, write reports, and interact with wildlife rehabilitators. Apart from the mentioned skills, you must have a minimum of a bachelor's degree. However, a master's degree or doctorate is preferred. You should have studied zoology, botany, wildlife physiology, and related subjects.

Moreover, you must have a professional designation of Certified Wildlife Biologist (CWB). The applicants must have at least five years of professional experience and should meet the educational requirements. Talking about the salary, the average is about $62,000, and it can go up to $100,000 annually if you are amongst the top Wildlife Biologist.

What Does a Wildlife Biologist Do

Zoologists and wildlife biologists study animals and other wildlife and how they interact with their ecosystems. They study the physical characteristics of animals, animal behaviors, and the impacts humans have on wildlife and natural habitats.

Duties

Zoologists and wildlife biologists typically do the following:

  • Develop and conduct experimental studies with animals in controlled or natural surroundings
  • Collect biological data and specimens for analysis
  • Study the characteristics of animals, such as their interactions with other species, reproduction, population dynamics, diseases, and movement patterns
  • Analyze the influence that human activity has on wildlife and their natural habitats
  • Research, initiate, and maintain ways of improving breeding programs that support healthy game animals, endangered species, or other wild populations of land or aquatic life
  • Estimate, monitor, and manage wildlife populations and invasive plants and animals
  • Write research papers, reports, and scholarly articles that explain their findings
  • Give presentations on research findings to academics and the general public
  • Develop conservation plans and make recommendations on wildlife conservation and management issues to policymakers and the general public

Zoologists and wildlife biologists perform a variety of scientific tests and experiments. For example, they take blood samples from animals to assess their levels of nutrition, check animals for disease and parasites, and tag animals in order to track them. Although the roles and abilities of zoologists and wildlife biologists often overlap, zoologists typically conduct scientific investigations and basic research on particular types of animals, such as birds or amphibians, whereas wildlife biologists are more likely to study specific ecosystems or animal populations, such as a particular at-risk species. Wildlife biologists also do applied work, such as that involving the conservation and management of wildlife populations.

Zoologists and wildlife biologists use geographic information systems (GIS), modeling software, and other computer programs to estimate wildlife populations and track the movements of animals. They also use these computer programs to forecast the spread of invasive species or diseases, project changes in the availability of habitat, and assess other potential threats to wildlife.

Zoologists and wildlife biologists conduct research for a variety of purposes. For example, many zoologists and wildlife biologists work to increase our knowledge and understanding of wildlife species. Traditionally, many wildlife biologists researched ways to encourage abundant game animal populations in order to increase recreational hunting and tourism. Today, many also work with public officials in conservation efforts that protect species from threats and help animal populations return to and remain at sustainable levels.

Most zoologists and wildlife biologists work on research teams with other scientists and technicians. For example, zoologists and wildlife biologists may work with environmental scientists and hydrologists to monitor water pollution and its effects on fish populations.

Zoologists generally specialize first in either vertebrates or invertebrates and then in specific species. Following are some examples of specialization by species:

  • Cetologists study marine mammals, such as whales and dolphins.
  • Entomologists study insects, such as beetles and butterflies.
  • Herpetologists study reptiles and amphibians, such as snakes and frogs.
  • Ichthyologists study wild fish, such as sharks and lungfish.
  • Mammalogists study mammals, such as monkeys and bears.
  • Ornithologists study birds, such as hawks and penguins.
  • Teuthologists study cephalopods, such as octopuses and cuttlefish.

Some zoologists and wildlife biologists specialize in studying wildlife according to the type of water or land where the wildlife lives. The following are examples of those who specialize by habitat:

  • Limnologists study organisms that live in freshwater.
  • Marine biologists study organisms that live in saltwater.
  • Terrestrial biologists study organisms that live on land, including plants and microbes.

Other zoologists and wildlife biologists are identified by the aspects of zoology and wildlife biology they study, such as evolution and animal behavior. Following are some examples:

  • Botanists study plants, including their growth, diseases, and structures. Agronomists study the particular plant science concerning crop production. For more information on agronomists, see the profile on agricultural and food scientists.
  • Ecologists study ecosystems, which include all relationships between organisms and the surrounding environments.
  • Evolutionary biologists study the origins of species and the changes in their inherited characteristics over generations.

Many people with a zoology and wildlife biology background become high school teachers or college or university professors. For more information, see the profiles on high school teachers and postsecondary teachers.

How To Become a Wildlife Biologist

Zoologists and wildlife biologists need a bachelor’s degree for entry-level positions; a master’s degree is often needed for higher level investigative or scientific work. A Ph.D. is necessary to lead independent research and for most university research positions.

Education

Zoologists and wildlife biologists need at least a bachelor’s degree. Many schools offer bachelor’s degree programs in zoology and wildlife biology or in a closely related field, such as ecology. An undergraduate degree in biology with coursework in zoology and wildlife biology also is good preparation for a career as a zoologist or wildlife biologist.

Zoologists and wildlife biologists typically need at least a master’s degree for higher level investigative or scientific work. A Ph.D. is necessary for the majority of independent research positions and for university research positions. Most Ph.D.-level researchers need to be familiar with computer programming and statistical software.

Students typically take zoology and wildlife biology courses in ecology, anatomy, wildlife management, and cellular biology. They also take courses that focus on a particular group of animals, such as herpetology (reptiles and amphibians) or ornithology (birds). Courses in botany, chemistry, and physics are important because zoologists and wildlife biologists must have a well-rounded scientific background. Wildlife biology programs may focus on applied techniques in habitat analysis and conservation. Students also should take courses in mathematics and statistics, given that zoologists and wildlife biologists must be able to do complex data analysis.

Knowledge of computer science is important because zoologists and wildlife biologists frequently use advanced computer software, such as geographic information systems (GIS) and modeling software, to do their work.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Zoologists and wildlife biologists write scientific papers and give talks to the public, policymakers, and academics.

Critical-thinking skills. Zoologists and wildlife biologists need sound reasoning and judgment to draw conclusions from experimental results and scientific observations.

Emotional stamina and stability. Zoologists and wildlife biologists may need to endure long periods with little human contact. As with other occupations that deal with animals, emotional stability is important in working with injured or sick animals.

Interpersonal skills. Zoologists and wildlife biologists typically work on teams. They must be able to work effectively with others to achieve their goals or to negotiate conflicting goals.

Observation skills. Zoologists and wildlife biologists must be able to notice slight changes in an animal’s characteristics, such as changes in its behavior or appearance.

Outdoor skills. Zoologists and wildlife biologists may need to chop firewood, swim in cold water, navigate rough terrain in poor weather, or perform other activities associated with life in remote areas.

Problem-solving skills. Zoologists and wildlife biologists try to find the best possible solutions to threats that affect wildlife, such as disease and habitat loss.

Other Experience

Some zoologists and wildlife biologists may need to have well-rounded outdoor skills. They may need to be able to drive a tractor, use a generator, or provide for themselves in remote locations.

Many zoology and wildlife biology students gain practical experience through internships, volunteer work, or some other type of employment during college or soon after graduation.

Advancement

Zoologists and wildlife biologists typically receive greater responsibility and independence in their work as they gain experience. More education also can lead to greater responsibility. Zoologists and wildlife biologists with a Ph.D. usually lead independent research and control the direction and content of projects. In addition, they may be responsible for finding much of their own funding.

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Average Salary
$59,861
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
5%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
824
Job Openings

Wildlife Biologist Career Paths

Top Careers Before Wildlife Biologist

Top Careers After Wildlife Biologist

Biologist
21.7 %

Wildlife Biologist Jobs You Might Like

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Average Salary for a Wildlife Biologist

Wildlife Biologists in America make an average salary of $59,861 per year or $29 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $90,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $39,000 per year.
Average Salary
$59,861
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Best Paying Cities

City
ascdesc
Average Salarydesc
Portland, OR
Salary Range61k - 94k$76k$76,188
Harrisburg, PA
Salary Range52k - 92k$69k$69,232
Santa Cruz, CA
Salary Range54k - 87k$69k$69,096
New York, NY
Salary Range52k - 90k$69k$68,860
Silver Spring, MD
Salary Range43k - 78k$58k$58,429
Washington, DC
Salary Range41k - 74k$55k$55,438
$30k
$94k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyascdescCompanyascdescStart DateascdescSalaryascdesc
Wildlife Biolgist
Wildlife Biolgist
State of Oklahoma
State of Oklahoma
05/26/2021
05/26/2021
$39,48405/26/2021
$39,484
Biologist I Wildlife Health
Biologist I Wildlife Health
State of North Dakota
State of North Dakota
05/22/2021
05/22/2021
$50,22005/22/2021
$50,220
Biologist I Wildlife Health
Biologist I Wildlife Health
State of North Dakota
State of North Dakota
05/22/2021
05/22/2021
$50,22005/22/2021
$50,220
Internal Posting-Wildlife Biologist I
Internal Posting-Wildlife Biologist I
Sc Department of Public Safety
Sc Department of Public Safety
05/21/2021
05/21/2021
$27,52705/21/2021
$27,527
Wildlife Biologist/Compliance Support
Wildlife Biologist/Compliance Support
Colorado State University
Colorado State University
05/01/2021
05/01/2021
$60,00005/01/2021
$60,000
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Wildlife Biologist Demographics

Gender

male

59.0 %

female

37.3 %

unknown

3.6 %

Ethnicity

White

75.7 %

Asian

10.4 %

Hispanic or Latino

7.8 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

43.5 %

French

17.4 %

Chinese

8.7 %
See More Demographics

Wildlife Biologist Education

Majors

Biology
29.6 %

Degrees

Bachelors

78.4 %

Masters

9.0 %

Associate

5.3 %

Top Colleges for Wildlife Biologists

1. University of California - Davis

Davis, CA • Public

In-State Tuition
$14,402
Enrollment
30,698

2. University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

Minneapolis, MN • Public

In-State Tuition
$14,760
Enrollment
31,451

3. Duke University

Durham, NC • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,695
Enrollment
6,596

4. University of Florida

Gainesville, FL • Public

In-State Tuition
$6,381
Enrollment
34,564

5. University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$56,225
Enrollment
19,548

6. Cornell University

Ithaca, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,188
Enrollment
15,105

7. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC • Public

In-State Tuition
$8,987
Enrollment
18,946

8. University of California, Berkeley

Berkeley, CA • Public

In-State Tuition
$14,184
Enrollment
30,845

9. Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA • Public

In-State Tuition
$18,454
Enrollment
40,108

10. North Carolina State University

Raleigh, NC • Public

In-State Tuition
$9,101
Enrollment
23,708
See More Education Info

Online Courses For Wildlife Biologist That You May Like

Land use Land cover classification GIS, ERDAS, ArcGIS, ENVI
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Land Use Scratch to Advance, All Softwares of Remote Sensing and GIS. Machine Learning, GIS Tasks in Easy way learning...

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How can we create a sustainable society that protects the environment while maintaining a prosperous society? Why have humans caused environmental degradation on local, regional, and global scales, and what can we do about it? Public officials, nonprofit organizations, and private businesses need professionals who can answer these questions in order to design a new sustainable world. Economics is the study of the allocation of scarce resources, including how markets function and how incentives...

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Make yourself Zero to HERO in ArcGIS with ArcMap, ArcGlobe, ArcCatalog, ArcScene and Web GIS Basic...

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Top Skills For a Wildlife Biologist

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 18.7% of wildlife biologists listed wildlife on their resume, but soft skills such as emotional stamina and stability and interpersonal skills are important as well.

Best States For a Wildlife Biologist

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a wildlife biologist. The best states for people in this position are Oregon, Alaska, Pennsylvania, and New York. Wildlife biologists make the most in Oregon with an average salary of $76,950. Whereas in Alaska and Pennsylvania, they would average $72,010 and $70,969, respectively. While wildlife biologists would only make an average of $68,886 in New York, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Massachusetts

Total Wildlife Biologist Jobs:
76
Highest 10% Earn:
$111,000
Location Quotient:
2.38
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Oregon

Total Wildlife Biologist Jobs:
11
Highest 10% Earn:
$115,000
Location Quotient:
0.76
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Alaska

Total Wildlife Biologist Jobs:
29
Highest 10% Earn:
$89,000
Location Quotient:
9.98
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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Top Wildlife Biologist Employers

1. United States Department of Agriculture
4.8
Avg. Salary: 
$31,578
Wildlife Biologists Hired: 
30+
2. South Carolina Department of Transportation
4.1
Avg. Salary: 
$32,851
Wildlife Biologists Hired: 
10+
3. SC Department of Commerce
3.6
Avg. Salary: 
$27,192
Wildlife Biologists Hired: 
10+
4. The University of Arizona
4.5
Avg. Salary: 
$48,364
Wildlife Biologists Hired: 
9+
5. ICF
4.7
Avg. Salary: 
$59,944
Wildlife Biologists Hired: 
7+
6. SWCA Environmental Consultants
3.8
Avg. Salary: 
$68,004
Wildlife Biologists Hired: 
7+
Updated October 2, 2020