Doing Wildlife Surveys
By Eric Hammer
You know those organizations that do wildlife surveys? They
send people out into the wild to take pictures, count the number
of animals of any given species left in the wild, tag animals
in the wild and generally do good things for wildlife conservation.
Have you ever thought you'd enjoy doing that? If so, you may
want to get a job as a wildlife specialist.
A wildlife specialist is just what it sounds like - someone
who goes out to work with wildlife. Unlike a zoologist who is
more generalized in working with animals, a wildlife specialist
works exclusively with, well, wildlife. That means you get to
know the animals in their native habitats, what they eat, how
they act and what's involved in being a member of that species.
While wildlife surveys are a very big part of the job of a
wildlife specialist, they are not the only part. You'll also
be called upon to study the animals in question, tag some of
them so they can be tracked using GPS signals and generally write
papers on the habits of specific species.
How Much Can You Make?
According to Indeed.com, the average salary for a wildlife
specialist is approximately $46,000 per year. However, that number
can vary quite a bit depending on where you work, how much experience
you have and what kind of credentials you have.
Ways to Make More | Related Opportunities
One of the things people generally like about doing this kind
of work is that it's fairly isolated. Your job doesn't really
involve much contact with people (though you will be in close
contact with animals!) and that is something that you need to
keep in mind. If you are not the sort who enjoys working alone
and or in small teams (since often, it will be you, an assistant
and perhaps a guide out in the field, for months at a time),
then you should consider other work. On the other hand, if that
appeals to you, then this may be the perfect job for your needs.
Remember as well that a wildlife specialist can do more than
just taking wildlife surveys. You could also work in a lab or
even as a lecturer. For that matter, while you would be a little
specialized for the job, you can work in a zoo as well, since
you'd have a better idea of what animals do in their natural
habitat and you could study the variations for animals kept and
or born and bred in captivity.
Qualifications / Requirements
You will need to have at least a bachelor's degree in wildlife
conservation. Ideally, you should consider a master's degree
and possibly even a PhD. While the amount of training is high
with a somewhat low reward for your years of study, it is also
one of the most rewarding experiences you can have, if you have
the temperament for this kind of work.
Start by offering to volunteer with organizations that study
wildlife and conduct wildlife surveys. A few examples are listed
below to get you started, though you can find more on Google
or your favorite search engine. Talk to the people you'll meet
and ask them how to get into this business on a professional
level. Generally, wildlife conservationists and specialists are
happy to talk about their work with like minded individuals (though
they tend to not be the most talkative people when it comes to
the general public). So, if you express genuine interest and
willingness to learn, you will likely find yourself one or several
mentors in your quest this way.
Check out these helpful resources to find out more about doing
wildlife surveys and getting jobs in the world of wildlife in
Diploma Studies: Online Studies in Wildlife Conservation
- While it's aimed at those interested in learning online, the
information here is applicable for anyone interested wildlife
Kalan: Animal Related Careers - An excellent blog post describing
careers in wildlife conservation and wildlife surveys. The survey
information here is a bit dated though.
Wildlife Conservation Network - An organization
active in wildlife surveys.
Wildlife Fund - Another organization (and one of the best
known in the world) which conducts wildlife surveys and hires