Are there any lucrative wildlife conservation jobs out there that anyone can pursue? If you want to contribute to wildlife conservation efforts, here are some jobs you can check out.
What comes to your mind when you think of wildlife conservation jobs? Some people assume that these jobs just involve spending time feeding elephants or tracking down poachers and smugglers of animal parts. And while this may be true, jobs in wildlife conservation are diverse and widely varied ranging from volunteer to high-level positions.
And because the wildlife conservation industry is growing by the day, there are hundreds of additional jobs that are created each day. Across the US and around, wildlife conservation workers are in high demand.
In case you are wondering how to get a job in wildlife conservation and what you can do, below is a list of wildlife conservation jobs for you to look at.
This guide also outlines some of the wildlife conservation job requirements and the key duties of each job.
Table of Contents
- Top Wildlife Conservation Jobs
- 1. Wildlife Manager
- 2. Wildlife Biologist
- 3. Conservation Law Enforcement Officer
- 4. Wildlife Technician
- 5. Wildlife Forensics Scientist
- 6. Communications and Public Relations Specialist
- 7. Wildlife Rehabilitator
- 8. Advocate or Lobbyists for Wildlife Conservation
- 9. Environmental Consultancy
- 10. Conservation Photographer and Filmmaker
- 11. Wildlife Veterinary
- 12. Conservation Fundraising Officer
- 13. Field Guide
- Related Resources
Top Wildlife Conservation Jobs
1. Wildlife Manager
Wildlife management is one of the wildlife conservation jobs that are more focused on the practical aspect of conservation. In other words, it involves getting your hands dirty. So if you are an outdoorsy person who likes being hands-on, then this could be the job for you.
Your day-to-day duties mostly include the management of wildlife sites for the benefit of both the wildlife and the public. This includes habitat management where you will be involved in monitoring and taking care of the spaces occupied by animals and ensuring that they are conducive for wildlife.
As a wildlife manager, you will also be in charge of visitor access. Your work will involve ensuring that the health and safety of visitors to wildlife sites. You are also supposed to ensure that visitors are well-received and enjoy a good customer experience.
Some typical job titles for people working as wildlife managers include warden, ranger, estate worker, and reserves officer.
2. Wildlife Biologist
Wildlife biologists focus on the study of animals – specifically wildlife. They use scientific principles to study wildlife behavior and their habitats to add to the existing body of knowledge. The information they collect is critical in the management and conservation of wildlife.
The daily duties of a wildlife biologist include gathering and analyzing information on wildlife such as their behavior, population, distribution, nutrition, and ecology. This information is then interpreted to come up with ways of solving problems facing wildlife.
Since the field of wildlife biology is broad, it is advisable to narrow your focus to a specific job. The choices range from entomology and herpetology to primatology and many other specialties.
Because of human population growth and climate change, there are enormous challenges facing wildlife today. As a result, there is a huge demand for wildlife biologists across the US. They are also well-enumerated. California, for instance, has a relatively high median pay for wildlife biologists. It’s also one of the states with the most wildlife conservation jobs.
3. Conservation Law Enforcement Officer
These are wildlife conservation jobs that entail enforcing laws that help in the management and protection of wildlife. Many challenges threaten wildlife today and there are laws that have been enacted at both state and federal levels to ensure that wildlife is protected.
As an enforcement officer, you will be required to ensure that wildlife and people can coexist peacefully and sustainably.
Other things that fall on your plate include conducting surveys of wildlife populations to determine their population and health. You are also expected to participate in search and rescue operations; respond to complaints involving wildlife, and also sensitize the public on issues to do with wildlife.
To thrive in this career, you need to be physically fit because it involves spending a lot of time outdoors and in close contact with animals and people. Please note that many states and even the federal government have mandatory training programs for conservation officers.
4. Wildlife Technician
Wildlife technicians work hand in hand with marine biologists, although often they are under the supervision of the latter. Their work often involves going to the field to collect data for research projects on wildlife.
A lot of time is spent outdoors doing things like observing wildlife, collecting samples, tracking animals, and taking down the required information. As a subordinate to a marine biologist, you may also be required to offer additional support to the marine biologist as the need arises.
The upside is that this career affords you a front-row opportunity to make a direct on animal welfare. You will also be making a tangible contribution to conservation efforts.
Just like with wildlife biology, you need to at least have an associate or bachelor’s degree in STEM courses like biology to excel in this field. There are no other barriers to entry and is, therefore, a good career for anyone looking for entry-level jobs in wildlife conservation.
See related: 10 Best Conservation Posters: Earth, Water & Energy
5. Wildlife Forensics Scientist
The world of wildlife is not devoid of crime. There are unfortunate cases of human beings engaging in criminal activities that involve wildlife. Some of these crimes include poaching, smuggling of animals and animal parts, and other illegal activities involving wildlife.
Therefore, someone is needed to investigate those crimes to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book. This is where wild forensics specialists come in.
Their work is to conduct investigations, collect evidence, and package it in such a way that it can be used in criminal proceedings. For example, a wildlife forensics specialist may be called upon investigate whether an item is made using raw materials from a protected species.
Unlike other jobs in wildlife conservation that involve working directly with animals, wildlife forensics specialists may not interact directly with wildlife. However, their work is still crucial to conservation efforts.
To get started in this field, a bachelor’s degree in forensic science may be required.
6. Communications and Public Relations Specialist
This is one of the fastest-growing careers in wildlife conservation because, for conservation projects and activities to succeed, proper communication needs to be done to attract and retain maximum support.
It is a broad career field that encompasses several wildlife conservation jobs such as communications officer, marketing specialist, wildlife journalist, social media management, and many others.
Although the duties vary depending on the area of specialization, the main role of communications and public relations specialists is to create awareness around wildlife conservation efforts and the organizations involved. Another important role is to drive forward relationships with the general public and other partners such as donors.
Some skills that come in handy include the ability to communicate to both the internal and external audiences through different channels like press releases, news stories, newsletters, magazines, videos, podcasts, and brochures.
Other important skills include social media management and the organization and management of events and functions.
7. Wildlife Rehabilitator
The main duty of wildlife rehabilitators is to ensure that wild species are restored safely and responsibly to their natural environments. For example, after a wild animal is injured or orphaned, their work is to ensure that the animal is assisted to get back into the wild.
This is probably one of the best wildlife conservation jobs because it has an immediate impact on conservation efforts.
Most wildlife rehabilitators work with licensed rehabilitation centers that are dedicated to the care of wildlife. Others ply their trade with government agencies, other non-profit organizations involved in the welfare of wildlife.
Because most organizations involved in wildlife rehabilitation are donor-funded, the degree of numeration varies. Those that attract a lot of funding can afford to pay competitive salaries, while others can only pay a modest salary or even nothing at all. This makes this career ideal for volunteers.
Although there are no specific educational requirements for wildlife rehabilitators, training in veterinary science or biology can provide you with the necessary hands-on skills.
8. Advocate or Lobbyists for Wildlife Conservation
Animals and wildlife, in general, need protection. But they cannot advocate for themselves. That is why there are many wildlife and environmental organizations that have made it their goal to focus solely on wildlife advocacy.
The work of wildlife advocates and lobbyists includes pushing for the enactment of new laws that protect wildlife. They are also involved in the education of communities on the need to protect wildlife.
Advocacy work is varied and so the skillset or professional qualifications required are varied too. Many different professionals such as environmental lawyers, journalists, and accountants can fit in this space.
It is worth noting that while most of the conservation jobs are done in labs or the great outdoors, advocates and lobbyists for wildlife can work from the comfort of their offices.
So if you are looking for a way to contribute meaningfully to wildlife conservation without getting your hands dirty, you can choose a career in this field. The field is also open to volunteers.
9. Environmental Consultancy
If you have a degree in environmental science or a STEM-related course and are not looking for full-time employment, then you can choose to become an environmental consultant.
Many wildlife conservation organizations have do not have the expertise for such work but do not want or are not able to engage specialists on a full-time basis.
The areas of environmental consultancy are varied. They include habitat management, water quality monitoring, climate change, waste management, pollution, and many others.
Environmental consultants also offer support in species-specific work depending on their areas of expertise. This includes conducting species surveys and rolling out novel technologies in conservation work.
Environmental consultancy jobs are readily available and very straightforward to apply for. It is also one of the few areas with a wildlife conservation jobs salary estimate that is consistent.
10. Conservation Photographer and Filmmaker
Do you like the idea of capturing wildlife in its raw beauty? Then consider becoming a conservation photographer or filmmaker. You can work with organizations as a resident photographer or on your own as a freelancer.
This is a career that is open to anyone with a camera and who has a passion for it. The access to relatively cheap, but professional quality photography equipment has made it popular among conservationists.
But passion alone is not enough. It is also necessary to get some formal photography training to perfect your skills and distinguish yourself from the pack.
However, this ease of entry means there are so many people engaging in conservation photography and filmmaking. Fortunately, wildlife photography is growing rapidly and the opportunities to do something meaningful are immense.
A good example is the wildlife photographer Joel Sartore who produced the National Geographic book The Photo Ark. Apart from being a bestseller, his book has helped to create awareness on species that are threatened by extinction.
11. Wildlife Veterinary
This is one of the best wildlife conservation jobs because it offers a perfect opportunity to work directly with animals. It is a career that plays a fundamental role in conservation because of its direct impact.
So if you are a qualified veterinary and are tired of taking care of household pets, remember that wild animals require specialized treatment too. For example, can you picture yourself tending to an injured bird at a rehabilitation facility? It’s pretty rewarding, right?
You may choose to work with animals in captivity such as in zoos or national parks. Alternatively, you can focus on free-ranging wildlife.
It is a field that is teeming with opportunities and requires a lot of manpower. Most wildlife vets are typically contracted by federal, state, or large conservation organizations.
The wildlife conservation job requirements for this career include at least a bachelor’s degree and a Doctor of Medical Veterinary (DMV) from a veterinary medical school.
12. Conservation Fundraising Officer
Conservation work relies heavily on fundraising. That is why there are many organizations, both large and small, that engage the services of professional fundraisers to assist them in raising money for their causes.
This is a job that requires a lot of public engagement because members of the public are the main funders of conservation efforts.
One of the main duties of a fundraising officer is to plan and deliver campaigns that involve a lot of mass media activity. This involves working hand in hand with internal and external suppliers to ensure the campaign is well-implemented and the targets are met.
In addition to motivating and facilitating donors to maximize their contributions, you will also be required to acquire new donors, and maintain relationships with existing donors.
You can find wildlife conservations jobs as a fundraising officer with any degree. However, a background in communications, management, or public relations will give you an edge.
13. Field Guide
This is a dream career for those looking for traveling wildlife conservation jobs. A career as a field guide is an opportunity to marry your passion for travel with the desire to make a meaningful contribution to conservation.
As a field guide, you will be working with people to help them experience the natural world and its wildlife. In other words, you act as the link between wildlife and people.
Other duties include facilitating expeditions, ensuring the safety of both people and wildlife during expeditions, hosting tourists and other guests, and the maintenance of travel vehicles and other equipment.
To succeed in this career you need to very self-driven because most of the time you will be working independently or with very minimal supervision.
There many entry-level wildlife conservation jobs in this field and the pay is relatively good. So, if you love wildlife, and are passionate about exploration and adventure, then a career as a field guide could be ideal for you.