If you are spending your weekends hiking camping or just looking at the bugs and butterflies in your backyard, you might consider converting your recreational passion into your livelihood by searching for a wildlife job. While animal shelters or dog training might be top of mind when considering a career with or about animals, if you use your imagination, you will find opportunities for wildlife jobs in all sectors of the economy. Wildlife jobs are available with policy organizations such as the Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife or The Humane Society of the United States. Policy analysts, advocates and administrators with experience in, or a love of, the outdoors and animals should check relevant NGO websites regularly.
Resolver of wildlife conflicts
Not interested in being a wonk for animals? No problem. Wildlife jobs are also available rescuing raccoons from attics or birds from chimneys. Wildlife conflict resolution for the homeowner used to be the sole domain of so-called “pest control” companies. These operations use everything from traps to poisons to lure, capture and kill unsuspecting wildlife that have inadvertently mistaken a hole in the eaves under the roof or an uncapped chimney as a “Welcome Home” banner. They then move in, set up house-keeping and raise a family. When the homeowners aren’t as excited to be sharing their home as the squirrel, raccoon, bat or sparrow, they either call their local animal control organization or a pest control company.
Some estimates indicate that up to half of the incoming calls to urban and suburban animal control agencies are about wildlife invasions into people’s homes. While in the past, all the agency could do was refer the caller on to a for-profit pest control company, some animal shelters and animal control agencies are now offering an alternative service to pest control operators. These programs get the pests out, but spare the animals their lives. Humane Wildlife Services, a program of The Humane Society of the United States is one of the premier entrants in this new field, but wildlife technician jobs are available for these businesses in other markets and at a growing number of humane societies.
If you’ve seen an injured bird or a deer at the edge of a road and wished you could do something to help, you might look for a wildlife job in one of the many wildlife rehabilitation and rescue centers scattered throughout the nation. Every year, tens of thousands of wild animals who are poisoned, hit by vehicles, orphaned or otherwise in need of care are brought to these wild emergency rooms where they are triaged, treated and (hopefully) released back to the wild. There is nothing more rewarding for someone who loves wildlife than to witness a pelican, bobcat, turtle or squirrel scamper out of a cage at a release site and back into their own wonderful world.
Finally, if your interest lies closer to ecology and the environment than animal rescue or rehabilitation, check out the federal government for some interesting wildlife job opportunities for internships and other entry-level positions. For example, the government has a program for young people called The Youth in the Great Outdoors. This program provides jobs that build connections with our natural and cultural heritage while offering pathways to careers in resource stewardship. Also the Student Conservation Association (SCA) AmeriCorps provides young people hands-on service opportunities on the land. The SCA members protect and restore national parks, marine sanctuaries, cultural landmarks and community green spaces throughout the United States.
If your passion is nature, there is a place for you in the growing sector of wildlife jobs. From policy to medicine to rescue to preservation, opportunities exist for all kinds of skill sets and backgrounds. Wildlife jobs give anyone the chance to put their passion into a paycheck and also to make this a better world for animals.