Wildlife Management programs concentrate on the preservation of native wildlife and ecology of a biodiverse region. Wildlife managers are trained professionals who work to maintain the balance between humankind and the natural world by meticulously regulating the utilization of natural resources. And thus, their work also includes mitigating the effects of human activities on wildlife habitat. They try to pry out the optimum productivity that can be obtained from natural resources while keeping the ecology of a particular biodiverse region in check.
Wildlife management degrees are offered in a number of colleges and they start from a regular associate’s degree to intensive research-based doctorate degrees. Each of these degrees prepares an aspirant wildlife manager to handle different responsibilities in their arena of work.
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Bachelor’s programs provide a general understanding of ecology, botany, fisheries management, plant management, and conservation techniques. Students also get a comprehensive knowledge of natural sciences as most programs are heavily inundated with science and mathematics courses, providing the students with a concrete background of biological and physical characteristics of wildlife.
Master’s programs are more rigorous and students have to perform an exhaustive study on wildlife science through advanced courses. Students specialize in one of the many aspects of this diversified field with research experience before they graduate. Their areas of study include Advanced Fish Ecology, Forestry Management, Animal Behavior and Management, Wetlands Ecology, Applied Data Science, etc.
Graduates who want to obtain a doctorate degree in wildlife management generally tend to pursue a career in teaching or research and in some cases, both. The core courses here are similar to those in a master’s program. However, students concentrate their study in one of those subtopics and proceed on to conduct intensive research on very specific issues as they graduate.
Students who want to study wildlife management at the undergraduate level can choose from a number of top institutions. Of the many colleges that offer an undergraduate degree in this field, the most popular are Humboldt State University, Texas A&M University, University of California-Davis, University of Georgia and Michigan State University. Wildlife Management is ranked 144th in popularity of the 384 college majors as surveyed by College Factual. The number of annual graduates ranges from around 1800-2000 each year. Majority of the graduates happen to be women as they make up about 52% of all the students.
The most popular institutions when it comes to graduate-level or postgraduate study are the University of Idaho and the University of Minnesota. The Department of Fish and Wildlife Management at the University of Idaho offers M.S. and Ph.D. Students learn advanced principals of tackling problems in the natural world from a hands-on approach where they are required to indulge in intensive field level study. They are provided with a remote research station in the wild and are permitted to access hundreds of acres of water bodies, swamplands, and forests. On the other hand, College of Food,
Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences at the University of Minnesota offers one of the most top-ranked programs in this field. They too offer opportunities of field research in ten or more of their unique research facilities scattered all over the state of Minnesota.
As discussed earlier, since the nature of the different degrees offered in this field varies, the career opportunities for a graduate are largely dependent on the type of degree they have earned. For instance, individuals with an associate’s degree are typically employed at entry-level jobs in a multitude of wildlife-related environments such as national parks or wildlife reserves. Their primary job includes but is not limited to studying the behavior of the various species present in the park and finding out the optimum environment necessary for their sustenance. Moreover, they are required to find the proper equation from which human needs can be met while preserving the ecology of a wildlife sanctuary.
Professionals with a bachelor’s degree find a broader range of opportunities in habitat restoration, ecosystem research, marine research, wildlife rehabilitation, resource management, law enforcement, etc. Many find employment opportunities in government agencies where they involve in conducting government-funded research. They are often assigned to run public campaigns promoting native wildlife conservation by these government agencies. Wildlife managers are eligible to work as Natural Resource Technicians as well, helping senior professionals gather data along with researching other intricate issues directly on the field. Graduates who work in wildlife rehabilitation are responsible for dealing with endangered or rare species under the surveillance of qualified professionals.
A master’s degree opens the door to more enticing careers in wildlife biology, law enforcement, research, and administration. The more qualified graduates opt for teaching positions along with leading field research projects. Some graduates also become a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine given they concentrate their study in this arena.
Salaries and Outlook
Wildlife managers do not earn a hefty amount right after graduating but their starting salary is still above the median amount. Fresh graduates who work as conservationists usually tend to earn upwards of 63,000 USD annually with projected job growth of 7%.
Park rangers who work for federal or state governments and are assigned to protect wildlife reserves and conservatories start with a smaller salary. They typically earn around 35,000 USD each year with projected job growth of 7.5%.
On the other hand, professionals with more advanced degrees are employed in sophisticated positions where the earning opportunity is a lot more. People in administrative or supervisory positions are highly demanded along with individuals involved in research-based work.
A career in wildlife management might be a great choice for an eco-conscious individual. Wildlife managers work in a plethora of industries where they directly involved in sustaining the ecosystem. In this career, an individual can actively partake in saving the natural environment while getting paid for it. And with the devastating effects of global warming and annual cataclysms throughout the world, wildlife requires more attention and protection than it ever did.