A bachelor's degree or higher in environmental science, zoology, or a related field will set you up to pursue a career as a fish and game biologist. You will likely work in a laboratory or field environment to collect or study data on animals and their environment. Although job growth in this field is slow, you could consider earning a master's or doctoral level degree to gain an advantage in the job market.
Fish and game biologists investigate how animals, plants and other organisms react to their natural environment. They may conduct research and perform tasks outdoors and in a laboratory. A bachelor's degree is required for an entry-level career as a fish and game biologist, though employers may prefer candidates to hold a graduate degree.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree for entry-level work; a master's or doctoral degree is recommended|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||4% (zoologists and wildlife biologists)*|
|Median Salary (2015)||$59,680 annually (zoologists and wildlife biologists)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Fish and Game Biologist Job Description
Wildlife biologists study animal origins and life cycles. They track animal diseases and general behaviors through fieldwork. Wildlife biologists may also work in lab settings studying dead animals to learn more about the animals' structure and makeup. Wildlife biologists use the biological data they collect from living or dead animals to configure additional information about the effects environment may have on these creatures.
Botany is an area of biology that focuses on plant life. Botany biologists not only study plants, but also the environments in which these organisms live. Areas of study within botany may include plant disease, environmental interactions, plant classification and geological records. Botany biologists may be responsible for developing plans to manage and maintain natural environments, along with plant diseases.
Aquatic biologists study organisms in bodies of water, including fresh water or marine fish. They record and study water quality and fish populations within rivers and lakes. This information may be used to implement conservation techniques or in conjunction with new projects such as highways, lake alterations and other diversions. Aquatic biologists may work in conjunction with other biologists to discuss how urban design or construction will affect existing and future aquatic populations.
Fish and Game Biologist Job Requirements
Degree programs in botany, zoology, fishery management or wildlife management are typically required for a career in the fish and game biology field. A bachelor's degree may be acceptable for managerial positions, some teaching positions and product development positions. A bachelor's degree may also suffice for applied research or research technician positions. Future wildlife and game biologists complete coursework in biology, wildlife ecology, inorganic chemistry and soil science.
Some organizations prefer master's degrees in similar subject areas such as biology, range management or zoology. Fish and game wardens, for example, may need a bachelor's or master's degree in addition to 2-3 years experience, depending on the hiring organization.
A Ph.D. is typically required for fish and game biologists working as independent researchers or for those who wish to work in postsecondary education. Additional work experience in the field or significant experience in publishing scientific research may be needed for long-term research positions.
Career and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' employment projections for zoologists and wildlife biologists, a category which also includes botanists and aquatic or marine biologists, job opportunities for these professionals were expected to increase 4% between 2014 and 2024. This slower-than-average growth was expected to be the result of fluctuations in state and federal government budgets, which could affect the number of new jobs. In 2015, zoologists and wildlife biologists earned a median annual salary of $59,680.
To recap, fish and game biologists could work in wildlife biology, aquatic biology, or even botany. A bachelor's degree is a typical minimum education requirement, but master's or Ph.D. degrees are often preferred by employers, particularly for research-related jobs. Careers in this field are best suited for someone who enjoys data collection and analysis and is comfortable working in laboratory or outdoor settings.