Terrestrial Biologist: Job Duties, Salary and Outlook

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a terrestrial biologist. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties, salary and job growth predictions to find out if this is the career for you.

Terrestrial biologists perform research on earth's natural creatures, spending their workdays outside or in labs. These professionals get their start through undergraduate and graduate programs in related fields. Zoologists and wildlife biologists in general receive an annual salary of nearly $60,000. Job growth is expected to be slower than the average through 2024.

Essential Information

Terrestrial biologists, usually called wildlife biologists, are scientists who study land-based plants, animals and other living organisms. They may work for government agencies, colleges or private industries, depending on their education and experience levels. A bachelor's degree in zoology or a related field is the minimum requirement to work as a wildlife biologist, but graduate degrees are usually necessary for advancement in the field.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in zoology, wildlife biology or related field; master's degree usually needed for career advancement; doctoral degree required for research positions
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 4% zoologists and wildlife biologists
Median Annual Salary (2015)* $59,680 for zoologists and wildlife biologists

Source: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Terrestrial Biologist Job Duties

Terrestrial biologists typically work in research positions for various agencies or companies. They usually study specific plants, animals or ecosystems. Some projects they may work on include wildlife conservation, population control for invasive species and environmental management.

Terrestrial biologists typically spend time outdoors studying plants and animals in their natural habitat, or they may work indoors in a laboratory setting. They may compile data obtained through research, analyze the data and develop a plan of action. Individuals with extensive experience in terrestrial biology may develop and implement various programs such as wildlife disease control or conservation. They may manage other biologists and communicate the results of their research to various groups, schools or the public.

Salary Information

According to the BLS, the median annual wage for wildlife biologists was $59,680 in May 2015. The top-paid ten percent earned $97,390 a year or more, and the lowest-paid ten percent earned $39,180 or less. The salaries vary greatly depending on location, job position and degree level. The highest levels of employment were with state and federal government agencies and scientific research and development services.

Career Outlook

The BLS predicted employment opportunities for zoologists and wildlife biologists to increase by 4% from 2014-2024. Because terrestrial biology is a highly competitive field, individuals with doctorate degrees will have a greater chance of securing research positions. Research projects depend greatly on government funding, and a decrease in funding may reduce the need for researchers. Individuals with a bachelor's or master's degree may consider positions as managers, teachers or technicians in the terrestrial biology field.

Terrestrial biologists usually do lab work and fieldwork, analyzing samples and working with other professionals to implement conservation efforts. A bachelor's degree in biology, environmental science, or a similar field is required for entry level jobs, though graduate degrees can foster better job opportunities.


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