Do you love wildlife and the great outdoors? Do you dream about a career that won’t have you chained to a desk in a windowless cubicle 5 days a week? Do you find yourself counting the minutes until the weekend, when you can get out into the surroundings that motivate and inspire you?
If so, then a career in wildlife might be just what you’ve been waiting for. You might not think there are very many wildlife-related jobs out there, but you’d be surprised by the wide range of opportunities.
Wildlife careers include wildlife management, wildlife conservation, wildlife inspectors, fish management and research, wildlife biologist, forest management, forest ranger, wildlife technician, zoo keeper, wildlife photographer, oceanographer, law enforcement, fishing and hunting guide, and more.
The following was taken off the US Forest Service website:
"The Forest Service is strongly committed to the management of the National Forests in an environmentally sound manner. The agency's top priority is to maintain and improve the health, diversity, and productivity of forest ecosystems for the enjoyment of current and future generations. Forest management includes guidance, administration, and support of the agency's forest products management and sales programs."
Does that sound like the challenging and rewarding career you've been looking for? For many the answer is yes, and every year thousands of people enter the wildlife industry in the US and around the world. Environmental protection is a growing concern not just in North America and Europe, but in the developing countries as well, as man encroaches on forests and natural habitats that are home to so many wild animals.
Many people are coming to realize that if these habitats -- and the plants and animals that live within them -- aren't protected, then the very well could vanish from the earth forever. Hundreds of species disappear into extinction each year, and the trend is accelerating as the human population grows and more land is needed to support this population.
A good education is important in this field
If you’re truly interested in pursuing a career with wildlife and animals, a good place to start is by widening your knowledge and general understanding of wild animals, and their natural habitats. The course work that most aspiring wildlife workers select includes such topics as ecology, natural sciences, zoology, veterinary medicine, marine biology and more. There are also classes in these areas offered by natural history museums and zoos, and you can even learn a lot on your own by reading books on these topics.
Also be aware that most (but not all) wildlife-related careers require at least a bachelor's degree of some sort. Some fields like oceanographer or wildlife biologist require advanced degrees such as a Masters of Science or Ph.D. Don’t let this discourage you, but understand that the choices you make and courses you take in high school and college can impact your ability to meet these requirements.
One of the quickest ways to enter a wildlife-related career is to learn and expand your understanding of animals and the environments in which they live. You can do this a number of ways. If you’re currently a student, you can take some natural science courses such as zoology, marine biology, microbiology, botany or anthropology. If you’re not in school, you can still learn on your own by reading everything you can find about these topics, plus more general material about animals and their habitats. You might also check with the natural history museum or zoo in your area to see if they’re offering any classes on these topics.
But formal education is just one part of preparing for a wildlife-related career. You also need to get out and interact with wildlife in their natural setting. You might start by volunteering to help a wildlife association in your area. Visit the National Wildlife Association website for more information about programs you can get involved in.
Another way to learn and possibly get some
hands-on experience is to contact the US Forest Service or
Bureau Of Land Management office in your area. They may have summer internships
available, or an advisor available to answer your questions regarding
wildlife-related careers and education.
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