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Wildlife Biologist: Job Description & Career Info

Wildlife biologists require significant formal education. Learn about the degree programs, job duties and requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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Essential Information

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 (2012-2022)*5% (zoologists and wildlife biologists)
Median Salary (2013)* $57,430 (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.

Laboratory Work

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.

Career Information

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 2013, the median annual salary for a wildlife biologist or zoologist was $57,430 (www.bls.gov). The top-paid ten percent earned $95,460 or more. The BLS also noted that job opportunities for zoologists and wildlife biologists were expected to increase by 5% between 2012 and 2022.

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.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics