Wildlife biologists study the lives and behavior of animals. To become a wildlife biologist, you need at least a bachelor's degree, and graduate studies are required for many positions. They can work in many industries, and job growth is predicted to be slow, but steady, in this field over the coming years.
Wildlife biologists study genetic origins and life processes of animals. Many work as educators or field researchers. Prospective candidates may enter the field with a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Wildlife Biology or a related undergraduate degree in an area such as biological science. Many positions require advanced degrees.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree in wildlife biology or related field for entry-level jobs; master's degree or Ph.D. is required for upper-level positions|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||4% (zoologists and wildlife biologists)|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$59,680 (zoologists and wildlife biologists)|
Source: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
Job Description for a Wildlife Biologist
Wildlife biologists research and monitor plant and animal habitats in a given region to determine various environmental and population dynamics. For example, wildlife biologists may observe the effect of pollution on a population's health or analyze the predator-prey relationship for a specific species within an area. During this process, these professionals may be responsible for collecting data and looking out for repeating animal behavior patterns. Once their studies are done, they may begin formulating conclusions and publishing their results.
Aside from field work, wildlife biologists may frequently work in medical labs, planning and conducting experiments. Topics may range from advancing knowledge on the spread of bacteria or other microorganism-related diseases to conducting government-funded research on a particular ecosystem. Those heavily involved in research departments may also focus on topics in biotechnology and disease control.
Wildlife biologists frequently work for government agencies, university research departments and private companies. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that as of May 2015, the median annual salary for a wildlife biologist or zoologist was $59,680. The top-paid ten percent earned $97,390 or more. The BLS also noted that job opportunities for zoologists and wildlife biologists were expected to increase by 4% between 2014 and 2024.
Required Education for a Career in Wildlife Biology
While completing a bachelor's degree in wildlife biology or a similar field is sufficient for some positions, most wildlife biologists hold at least a master's degree and more often a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). Required courses for prospective wildlife biologist include zoology, biology and ecology. Students may also need to complete a certain number of credits in organic chemistry and statistics. Concentrations within the field range from land conservation to microbial ecology.
Wildlife biologists examine the lives of animals in their own environments. A wildlife biologist typically has a master's degree or PhD and can choose to concentrate their work in any of a number of specializations. Job opportunities exist in research labs, working for the government, universities or companies.