Jobs Working With Wildlife

by Linda Ray

Wildlife careers offer a diverse range of opportunities to animal enthusiasts. Jobs with wildlife are often unconventional in terms of hours, requirements, risks and locations, and they present challenges and rewards that are not found in most other fields. You face the prospects of both protecting animals and safeguarding the public with whom they come in contact.

Wildlife Veterinarian

Wildlife veterinarians offer specialized care and medical attention to wild animals. Zoos, animal clinics and wildlife preservation societies often hire wildlife vets. Specialization is common, since each species has its own set of needs and traits. Some challenges in this field include the fact that wild animals tend to conceal illness and injury, and non-domesticated species may resist treatment. Wildlife vets need an undergraduate degree and a doctor of veterinary medicine, or DVM, from accredited schools.


Zoologists are scientists who study wildlife in its natural habitat. Work is done out in the field and continued in laboratories or other controlled environments. Zoologists' work fulfills a variety of purposes, from gaining knowledge about the behavior of species, to observation of the human impact on natural environments. TRhey also assist in planning for conservation and protection of wild animals and habitats. A bachelor's degree is required for work in this field, but zoologists need to obtain PhDs to lead their own research teams.

Conservation Officer

Otherwise known as game wardens or park rangers, conservation officers are police officers who protect wildlife under federal or state laws. They mostly work in national parks and preserved areas where people are allowed to visit. Conservation officers report violations such as polluting or unauthorized hunting and are given the authority to make arrests. There are risks associated with encounters with criminals and wild animals, but these officers also have the opportunity to work in pristine natural environments. Conservation officers are licensed by states or federal agencies and are normally required to have a bachelor's degree in a relevant field and law-enforcement training.

Wildlife Rehabilitator

Wildlife rehabilitators work for organizations in different locations and environments. The goal is to take in hurt or stray animals and to care for and rehabilitate them so they can be successfully released back into the wild. Wildlife rehabilitators may work in at-risk environments looking for hurt animals, in care units providing for animals, coordinating with veterinary and educational services or doing clerical and training jobs. Workers in these fields normally start with a minimum of a bachelor's degree in biology or a related field. Wildlife rehabilitators must licensed, and may have to meet other specific state guidelines.

About the Author

Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."

Photo Credits

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