Your frequently asked questions about jobs in wildlife answered.

Wildlife Veterinarian Questions

What does a wildlife veterinarian do?

Wildlife veterinarians do much the same job as pet veterinarians. They give physical exams on a regular basis to animals, treat injuries and illnesses, perform surgeries, and prescribe medications as needed for their patients. They patients however are much more varied, ranging from tigers and wolves, to dolphins and fish, and lizards and snakes.

What does it take to become an exotic veterinarian?

To become an exotic veterinarian you would need to follow the same educational path as that of a pet veterinarian. This includes getting a bachelor’s degree, zoology, or animal sciences before getting a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. You will also need experience with wild animals which you can obtain through college or by volunteering at a local zoo or wildlife rehabilitation program.

Do all wildlife vets work at zoos?

wildlife veterinarian job

In zoos, surgery and physical exams may happen in the animal’s bedroom. Photo by Ihooq38, Flickr

No. They can also work at universities, wildlife rehabilitation centers, and in government positions.

Can a wildlife veterinarian specialize in an exotic species such as tigers?

You can specialize in a single exotic species as a wildlife veterinarian, but most do not. Few job opportunities are available to the wildlife veterinarian that can only treat one or two species. Many will specialize in a type of animal, such as birds, reptiles, or large mammals.

Do wildlife vets make more than pet vets?

Despite the extra training and education that is required of wildlife vets, they usually make less money than those that work in pet clinics.

How long does it take to be a wildlife veterinarian?

Becoming a veterinarian requires a four-year bachelor’s degree followed by a four-year veterinary medicine degree. Becoming a wildlife veterinarian takes as much time, and expense, as becoming a human doctor.

Oil Spill Questions

oil spill effects

Oiled bird getting a bath. Photo by Deepwater Horizon Response, Flickr

How does oil affect bird feathers?

Oil sticks to bird feathers damaging the feather structure that acts as a waterproof barrier. This causes gaps in the feathers which allow water to seep under the feathers and onto the skin.

Can I help animals in the oil spill?

The best time to help animals in an oil spill is before an oil spill occurs. Get training now and you will be put to work when an oil spill does occur. If you do not have training yet and would like to help a current spill effort, then you can donate money to the organizations involved in the spill and sign up for training.

How can humans help animals affected by oil spills?

You can volunteer at a wildlife rehabilitation center that cares for oiled animals in a spill, donate money or supplies to such organizations, and educate yourself on how oil products are used in everyday life.


Bird Job Questions

What are some jobs working with birds?

Wildlife rehabilitator, zookeeper, animal trainer, pet educator, and falconer and just some of the jobs you can have working with birds.

What do falconers do with the prey?

Falconers often use the prey to feed to their birds.

Can falconry be a job?

Yes falconry can be a paying job, although the jobs are limited and highly competitive. Falconers will work in bird shows and in abatement jobs.

Do you have to have a falconer’s license to do bird abatement?

Federal law requires that owners of any raptor that participate in falconry have a falconry license. However, employees of the falconer may not need a falconer’s license.


Wildlife Rehabilitation Job Questions

How do you get a job in wildlife rehabilitation?

wildlife rehabilitation program

An American robin raised in a wildlife rehabilitation program. Photo by audreyjm529, Flickr

The best way to get a job in wildlife rehabilitation is to volunteer at a rehabilitation center. Most centers hire stand out volunteers when they have openings.

Can a human doctor or nurse volunteer at an animal rehab center?

Yes. And the center will greatly appreciate your medical experience. However, do recognize that wild animal medicine is very different than human medicine. You may have a steeper learning curve than someone without human medicine experience because of these differences.


Zookeeper Job Questions

Do zookeepers and animal trainers get a good salary?

Generally the salary for zookeepers is not great. Some facilities do pay better than others, such as at large zoos and city zoos.

zookeeper job

Zookeeper feeding a giraffe. Photo by fwooper, Flickr

Does being a zookeeper require a lot of physical labor?

Yes. You do have to be in good shape in order to care for wild animals. Daily job duties require lots of rake and shoveling, hosing cages, and lifting large bags of food or hay bales. And you will spend most of your 8 hours being physically active.

What are the expected duties of an exotic animal trainer?

Exotic animal trainers are responsible for the daily care, health, and safety of the animals in their care. This includes providing nutritional meals, cleaning cages, and providing behavior enrichment such as training.

Is experience needed to be an animal caretaker for endangered species?

To work with endangered species, you will need experience working with wildlife. It helps if you have experience with endangered species, but this is not always necessary.

Can a veterinarian technician be a zookeeper?

Yes. Many zookeepers start their careers as veterinary technicians.

Can you get a job at a zoo without a college degree?

Most entry level zoo jobs do not require a four-year degree, although some college may be required.

Do animal trainers or zookeepers work weekends?

Yes, and holidays, and nights. The animals need daily care and sometimes care 24/7.

How many days a week do zookeepers work?

Zookeepers may work full or part time, so days and hours can vary from 0 to 40 hours a week. Overtime is often needed when animals are sick, in labor, or during special events and holidays.

All Other FAQs

Where can I find wildlife internships for high school students?

Many local zoos and wildlife rehabilitation centers have summer internship programs for high school students. Check out the High School Internship Programs page for more national opportunities.

What are the duties of a park ranger?

Park rangers educate park visitors, may participate in biological studies within the park, patrol campgrounds and beach areas, and participate in the management of the park’s habitat.

What jobs can you get with a biology or environmental science degree?

job biologist

A biologist puts a tracking collar on a wild mountain lion. Photo by MyFWCmedia, Flickr

A biology or environmental science degree can open you up to jobs as a scientist, educator, hydrology, or even health and safety specialist.

How do I get a job working with wildlife?

You will need education and experience to get a job working with wildlife. Start by taking science college courses and volunteering at a local wildlife center, zoo, or aquarium.

What is ecology?

In its simplest form, ecology is the study of relationships between living things and the environment.

Can I be a teacher with a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies or biology?

Yes. These degrees can earn you a job as a middle school, high school, or community college teacher. You can also teach at nature centers and zoos in the education department.

Can I find work as an assistant working with wildlife without any training or previous experience?

At times jobs with wildlife may become available for those with little to no experience. These jobs will usually involve cleaning cages and facilities or doing office work.

Can you go to college to work with wildlife?

Absolutely. You can pursue a tradition four-year degree in biology, zoology, or related field or choose to go to a more specialized wildlife school such as Moorpark College in California, or the Santa Fe College Zoo Animal Technology Program in Florida.

Can you put volunteer work at the animal shelter on your resume?

Absolutely and you should if the job you are applying for relates to animals.