Career Development

What Does a Wildlife Biologist Do?

Find out what a wildlife biologist does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a wildlife biologist.

Wildlife biologists are scientists who study the behavior, ecology, and conservation of wild animals. They may focus on a particular species or group of species, or they may study a broader range of wildlife.

Wildlife biologists often work in remote areas where they can observe their subjects without being disturbed by human activity. This allows them to get an up-close look at how wildlife lives, moves, eats, breeds, etc.

Wildlife Biologist Job Duties

Wildlife biologists have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Conducting research on animal populations, including monitoring the size of populations over time and recording birth rates, mortality rates, social structure, habitat use patterns, and other relevant data
  • Collecting data on wildlife populations, habitat conditions, ecosystem stresses, or other environmental factors that may be affecting animal populations
  • Conducting surveys to determine the number and types of wildlife species in an area
  • Identifying causes of declines in wildlife populations, such as loss of habitat or disease transmission
  • Preparing reports about research findings for publication in peer-reviewed journals or presentation at conferences
  • Performing controlled burns or other management activities to maintain or restore habitat
  • Studying the effects of human activities on wildlife populations or ecosystems
  • Recommending solutions to human-wildlife conflicts, such as creating barriers between residential areas and known animal habitats
  • Conducting research on animals’ physical characteristics (such as body size, weight, coloration, and habitat preferences) and behavioral patterns (such as mating rituals, parenting styles, and territorial aggression)

Wildlife Biologist Salary & Outlook

Wildlife biologist salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the type of work they do. Those who work in private industry typically earn more than those who work for government agencies or non-profit organizations.

  • Median Annual Salary: $70,500 ($33.89/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $137,000 ($65.87/hour)

The employment of wildlife biologists is expected to grow at an average rate over the next decade.

Wildlife biologists will be needed to monitor populations of endangered species and conduct research on how human activities affect wildlife and their habitats. In addition, continued growth in the fields of environmental consulting and natural resources management is expected to lead to increased demand for wildlife biologists.

Wildlife Biologist Job Requirements

A wildlife biologist typically needs to have the following qualifications:

Education: Wildlife biologists typically need a bachelor’s degree in wildlife science, biology, ecology or a related field. Some wildlife biologists choose to earn a master’s or doctoral degree to increase their job opportunities and earning potential.

Training & Experience: Wildlife biologists receive most of their training through formal education and on-the-job training. Entry-level wildlife biologists may receive training from a more senior biologist or ecologist. They may learn how to use specialized equipment, how to perform certain tasks and how to complete reports.

Certifications & Licenses: Wildlife biologists need a variety of certifications to support their claims of expertise and qualifications to potential employers. These certifications show expertise in a particular geographic area, a specialty or a type of wildlife.

Wildlife Biologist Skills

Wildlife biologists need the following skills in order to be successful:

Research: Research is the ability to find and interpret information. Wildlife biologists use research skills to find information about wildlife species, their habitats and the challenges they face. They also use research skills to find information about the best ways to help wildlife and the most effective strategies for doing so.

Communication: Communication is another essential skill for wildlife biologists. They often work in teams and must be able to clearly convey their ideas and findings to other biologists, engineers, managers and the public. They also often present their research at conferences and write articles for scientific journals.

Observation: Observation skills are important for wildlife biologists because they need to be able to notice small details about animals and their surroundings. This can help them identify animals, determine their health and notice changes in their behavior. Observation skills can also help them notice environmental changes that could affect the animals they study.

Data analysis: Data analysis is the ability to interpret information and draw conclusions from it. Wildlife biologists use data analysis to interpret data from research studies, such as animal behavior, habitat and population data.

Adaptability: Adaptability is the ability to change and grow with your circumstances. Wildlife biologists often work in outdoor environments, so they must be able to adapt to changing weather conditions, terrain and other outdoor elements. This is especially important when working with animals, as wildlife biologists need to be able to adapt to the animals’ needs and behaviors.

Wildlife Biologist Work Environment

Wildlife biologists spend most of their time working outdoors in all kinds of weather conditions, often in remote areas. They may work in forests, deserts, grasslands, wetlands, and other natural habitats. They also may spend time in offices or laboratories, conducting research, writing reports, or teaching. Wildlife biologists may work for state or federal agencies, private companies, or colleges and universities. They may work full time or part time, and their work hours may vary depending on the project or the season. Many wildlife biologists work more than 40 hours per week and may work on weekends and holidays. Some wildlife biologists travel extensively to conduct field research or to attend conferences.

Wildlife Biologist Trends

Here are three trends influencing how wildlife biologists work. Wildlife biologists will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Need for More Citizen Scientists

As the world becomes more and more urbanized, wildlife biologists will need to find new ways to engage with citizens in order to help protect wildlife.

Citizen scientists can play a critical role in helping to collect data about wildlife populations, which can then be used to make informed decisions about conservation efforts. By tapping into this resource, wildlife biologists can ensure that their work has the greatest possible impact.

The Importance of Collaboration

Wildlife biologists are increasingly realizing the importance of collaboration in order to achieve their goals. This is because working together allows them to share resources and expertise, which can lead to faster and more accurate results.

As wildlife biologists continue to collaborate, they will need to develop skills that allow them to work effectively with others. This includes being able to communicate effectively, as well as understanding how to manage projects and meet deadlines.

A Greater Focus on Sustainability

As society becomes more aware of the environmental impacts of our actions, there is a growing demand for professionals who can help us create sustainable solutions. Wildlife biologists are in a unique position to take advantage of this trend, as they have the knowledge and experience needed to design and implement sustainable solutions for both people and animals.

In order to capitalize on this trend, wildlife biologists should focus on developing their skills in areas such as sustainability planning, energy efficiency, and renewable energy. This will not only make them more attractive to potential employers, but it will also help to ensure that we all live in a more sustainable world.

How to Become a Wildlife Biologist

A wildlife biologist career can be incredibly rewarding, but it’s important to consider all the factors that will influence your success. One of the most important things is to find a niche that interests you and matches your skills and personality. Do you want to work with animals or plants? Would you rather focus on research or conservation?

It’s also important to build a network of professionals in the field who can offer advice and support. Attend conferences and workshops, join online forums, and read journals and articles about wildlife biology. This will help you stay up-to-date on the latest developments in the field and connect with other professionals who share your passion for wildlife.

Related: How to Write a Wildlife Biologist Resume

Advancement Prospects

Wildlife biologists typically need at least a bachelor’s degree for entry-level positions. A master’s degree is often needed for advanced research positions. A Ph.D. is required for most university teaching and research positions.

Many entry-level positions in wildlife biology, such as field assistant, require only a bachelor’s degree. However, most research positions and many management and policymaking positions require a master’s degree or Ph.D.

Advancement in wildlife biology generally depends on the acquisition of new skills, such as those related to management, administration, law, or education. Many wildlife biologists move into management positions, such as park manager or game warden. Some become research directors or consultants. Others teach at the college level.

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