Frequently Asked Questions
How did you know you wanted to be a wildlife biologist?
I always loved animals from a young age and being outdoors. During my summers off, I backpacked around the mountains in California and always made time to be in nature. I was interested in science growing up but I wasn’t sure exactly what kind of science - I started university going down a pre-med track and wanted to become a doctor. Once I started my medical courses, I realized that I was less interested in medical science and more interested in ecology. I had a great ecology teacher who inspired me to pursue ecology. After volunteering with big cats in the Amazon Rainforest, I realized that I wanted to specialize in wildlife specifically.
What school did you go to?
I went to the University of California in San Diego (UCSD) for my bachelor’s degree. I also took courses with MiraCosta College, Cuesta College, Palomar College, and the Scripps Institute of Oceanography.
What was your major?
My major was “Ecology, Animal Behaviour, and Evolution”, but I took most of my electives in wildlife biology and marine mammal conservation.
What type of degree do you need to become a wildlife biologist?
The minimum degree requirement is typically a bachelor’s degree in an ecology or environmental science type field. In limited circumstances, a diploma in fish and wildlife technology may be suitable. A master’s degree in wildlife biology is also very common, and is required in some wildlife positions. A PhD is rarely required unless you work in academia or in a later-stage career “expert” role.
How do you get a job as a wildlife biologist?
This is the big question I hope to address with my Youtube channel! The best place to start is my video linked here: How to Become a Wildlife Biologist.
How long did it take you to find a job in the wildlife field?
Within 6 months of graduating, I had a full-time job in the environmental field, but I did little with wildlife. However, I also immigrated to a new country at this time and was facing an economic downturn with mass unemployment in my city. It took me around 3 years from graduation to find a full-time, permanent position focusing solely on wildlife. However, within those three years, I still held positions related to wildlife but they were seasonal, part-time, or internships.
What is the average salary for wildlife biologists?
The average salary depends on where in the world you are located. In North America, averages are around $35,000 for your first job right out of university, $50,000 after a few years, and $60,000+ for later career wildlife biologists. Expect to earn close to minimum wage in your first field job or paid internship.
What is your favourite thing about being a wildlife biologist?
My favourite thing about being a wildlife biologist is all the travel this job has allowed me to do. By the age of 26, I had been to every continent besides Antartica. My work covers travel costs so I have been able to see so many wild species and wild lands through work. It was always my dream to travel so this career was a perfect fit for me. I also love being able to help animals and see the direct impact of my actions on the lives of animals and the conservation of habitats. Now that I work on Youtube and through social media, I really love hearing from the people who I have inspired to pursue a career in wildlife conservation.
What’s the most challenging part of being a wildlife biologist?
The most challenging part of my job varies by the day, but overall I have trouble juggling the amount of travel that I do with my home life, hobbies, and Youtube channel. It’s hard to not know when you’ll be home and when you’re in the field.
What types of jobs are there in wildlife and environmental science?
There is a big variety of jobs in environmental science, including seasonal, permanent, office, lab, and field jobs. For some ideas, check out my videos I’ve done on the top environmental career ideas linked below.
Is working in the field dangerous?
There is some danger involved with field work and this can increase depending where in the world you are located and what type of surveys you are doing. Where I work, there is a risk of encounters with bears, cougars, and wolves. Any reputable organization you work with will have a detailed risk management assessment in place with safety controls in order to reduce your risk in the field. These may include personal protective equipment (such as snake gaiters in tall grass), a satellite phone or SPOT device, a safety escort, bear spray or pepper spray, and/or frequent check-in procedures.
Where do I find a job in wildlife biology?
There are many different website that list jobs available in wildlife biology or environmental science. The top job boards are:
Ornithology Exchange - for bird related jobs.
Texas A&M Job Board - for all wildlife jobs internationally.
USA Jobs - for all American federal government jobs.
Government of Canada - for all Canadian federal government jobs.
Indeed - general job board that often listens wildlife/environmental jobs.
What are the best schools for wildlife bio & ecology?
These are some of the wildlife & ecology schools I have some familiarity with, but there are a ton of great programs outside of these schools. I encourage you to do your research when looking for a school and consider school reviews, class lists, majors offered, price of admission, how much you like the campus, and the research of professors to decide if a school is the right fit for you.
That said, here are a few North American schools with strong wildlife/ecology programs. If you are going to a school that you think has a great program, feel free to contact me and I can add it to my recommendations.
Canada: University of Alberta, McGill, UBC, UVic, University of Northern British Columbia.
United States: University of Montana, Colorado State University: Fort Collins, UC San Diego (ecology), Humboldt State University (wildlife), Texas A&M College Station (wildlife), UC Davis (vet met/animal science).
Is being a wildlife biologist competitive?
As with any field that is seen as exciting and fun, there is a lot of competition in this field. However, there are a lot of things you can do to increase your chances of succeeding - mostly by building your resume up!
Is the outlook for wildlife biology jobs improving?
Yes! As we begin to understand the impacts of climate change, we need professionals who can quantify the impact of new developments on wildlife and their habitat, and work to conserve the species we still have on the planet.
Can I interview you for a school project?
Due to my busy schedule I’m unable to accommodate school project requests at this time - sorry! However, please feel free to use the questions listed on this page as needed in your school project.
Can I contact you regarding a partnership, sponsorship or other business/science opportunities?
Yes! Please use my contact form linked here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.