Is a Wildlife Biology Degree Right for You?

A wildlife biologist studies and/or cares for wild animals in their natural habitats, so those interested in pursuing an online bachelors degree in wildlife biology will learn an extensive amount of ecology, wildlife biology, and population biology. Collectively, these core concepts give students the skills they need to research, classify, and analyze wild animals in their environment as well as research diseases, regulate population, and study relationships between an array of species. Job competition can be stiff, though, and employment is predicted to grow only about 7%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, earning an advanced degree in the subject can increase job opportunities.

Advice for Earning Your Wildlife Biology Degree Online

Prospective students should first make sure the program they’re considering is regionally or nationally accredited. Only schools that meet a quality standard of education can earn accreditation. However, just because an online program says its accredited doesn’t mean that it’s legitimate. While there are ways to confirm legitimate accreditation (checking with the Department of Education, for starters), if the status is still questionable it’s best to pursue online adaptions of programs offered through well-known brick- and-motor institutions. In addition, students interested in earning official certification from The Wildlife Society should carefully plan their courses early as certain classes are required to earn certification.

Required Courses

In general, wildlife biology majors are required to take a breadth of courses and labs that focus on science and conservatism. Although titles may vary slightly, students can expect to take any of the following courses: wildlife conservation, zoology, plant classification, natural resources policy and administration, bio politics, mammalogy, and avian studies. If a student plans on selecting a specific concentration, additional courses may be required. Students are also required to take an array of humanity courses such as communications and English for a more well-rounded education. These courses can also help students gain the skills to speak with clients, customers, and park pedestrians.

Common Career Paths

While becoming a wildlife biologist seems like the most obvious career option, there are plenty of other job titles and careers that can be obtained with an online degree in wildlife biology, most of which require exciting field work and outdoor research. Possible work environments can range anywhere from national forests to camps to even resorts. More careers include:

  • Wildlife Manager

    Wildlife managers, which are also sometimes referred to as fish and game wardens, use wildlife science directly or indirectly to carefully “manage” or manipulate a wildlife species population. Duties can include protecting and improving habitats to prevent extinction, altering food supply, and adding external factors to animal living dwellings to solve wildlife and habitat problems. They’re also responsible for enforcing fishing, gaming, and boating laws to protect wildlife animals.

    Salaries for wildlife managers will vary depending on years of experience, location, and whether the position is at the local or state government level. However, salary can range anywhere from $30,000 to $80,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. There were more than 6,000 active game wardens in the country in 2011, according to the latest figures from the Bureau. The highest concentration resided in Texas.

  • Wildlife Consultant

    A wildlife consultant is responsible for making sure clients are in compliance with environment regulations. Thus they are responsible for evaluating ecosystems and other pieces of undeveloped land to make sure that a client planning on building in the environment does not disrupt standards created by the National Environmental Policy Act, which was written to ensure that all businesses, industries, and governments stay within environmental boundaries with their proposed actions. Wildlife consultants may need extra certification on a project-to-project basis.

    Environmental consulting job opportunities will vary depending on which state you live in. Those with a more plush wildlife environment will naturally have more employment options. Salary will vary on employer, years of experience, and location, but in general those in the industry typically earn an average of $58,500 a year, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  • Wildlife Administrator

    A wildlife administrator is responsible for establishing ecology service objectives and goals based on a company’s set budget. Typically wildlife administrators promote and create scientific and technical resource management programs designed to improve wildlife and its habitats. They also typically assist wildlife managers on certain projects.

    Salary will vary extensively on whether employers are at the state or federal level. Salary will also depend on location, level of experience, and education. Typically, master’s degree holders in wildlife biology or a similar field get paid more. While there is no official data on how much a wildlife administrator makes, some job postings offer as much a $133,182 a year.

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