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A degree in wildlife biology prepares students with the skills and knowledge necessary to understand and observe the behavior of wildlife in their natural habitats. A student wishing to study wildlife biology will learn about ecosystems and study how animals act and react in that system. Many programs will incorporate classroom education with field experience and laboratory work. The study of wildlife biology requires an understanding of a cross section of disciplines, including biology, ecology and psychology. Degrees are available at the bachelor, master and doctoral level, with entry level positions available to bachelor degree holders. Master degree holders will have more options, and a master's degree is typically necessary for research positions. A doctoral degree will allow an individual to obtain supervisory positions as well as teaching opportunities.
A curriculum in wildlife biology may include:
- Behavioral Psychology
- Wildlife management
There are multiple careers available to wildlife biology majors. These careers typically involve the care and maintenance of animals and their natural environment, typically through conservation programs. Local, state and federal governments are the primary employers, utilizing wildlife biologists to ensure the safety and cleanliness of parks and wildlife reserves.
Private firms, typically involved in land development may also hire wildlife biologists to reduce the impact of such development on the environment. Research programs, both publically and privately funded, may also employ wildlife biologists to conduct analyses and observation on various animals and their behaviors. Conservationist groups through non-governmental organizations may also provide employment opportunities internationally.
Individuals entering the field of wildlife biology should expect to work through various internships in order to garner practical experience prior to finding permanent work. Job opportunities are expected to grow over the next decade as the interest to preserve and maintain wildlife and ecosystems increases. Job availability on the government level is subject to change yearly based on available budgets.
The average salary of a wildlife biologist will vary based on degree, employer, and field:
- Federal Employee - $71,000 per year
- Researcher - $64,000 per year
- State Employee - $52,000 per year
- Management and Consulting - $50,000 per year
Individuals interested in wildlife biology may also be interested in zoology, animal physiology, or entomology.
For further information on a career path in biology, visit our Definitive Career Guide in Biology on our blog. As an additional resource, you can also read our blog post titled Top College Degrees for Animal Lovers for more information.