- What is a Wildlife Biologist?
- A Basic Description of a Wildlife Biologist
- Brilliant Reasons for Studying Wildlife Biology
- Where to Study Wildlife Biology in the United Kingdom
- Can I Qualify As A Wildlife Biologist Online?
- The Best Jobs Available for Wildlife Biology Graduates
- Hear From A Real Life Wildlife Biologist
- 6 Beginner Tips for Starting a Career in Wildlife Biology
"If we teach people about wildlife, they will be touched. Share my wildlife with me. Because humans want to save things that they love." -Steve Irwin
What do Steve Irwin, Jane Goodall, Jeff Corwin, John Bindernagel, Stanley Temple, and Jane Smart have in common?
They have all significantly contributed to further understanding of the natural world, have travelled the world to study intriguing species carefully, have encouraged people to conserve wildlife and the planet we live in and, last but not least, they are all considered wildlife biologists.
What is a Wildlife Biologist?
Wildlife biologists dedicate their lives to the thorough study of the behaviour of animals. Individuals who study the biological science subject of wildlife biology become experts in observing features of certain wildlife and determining the roles of the creature in specific ecosystems and interaction with human beings.
Wildlife biology is a scientific study that is especially perfect for individuals who have a deep appreciation for animals and nature.
Therefore, without further ado, Superprof will consider the basic concepts included in wildlife biology, the excellent reasons for choosing to study wildlife biology, where to study wildlife biology in the UK, and the best jobs that are available for individuals possessing a degree in wildlife biology.
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A Basic Description of a Wildlife Biologist
Wildlife biologists have an excellent job; they spend many hours, days, and sometimes weeks at a time studying the biology, behaviour and habitats of a wide variety of animal populations in the wild.
The work tasks of a wildlife biologist are varied, and some of their duties may include the following:
- Collecting biological data for and specimens for analysis,
- Studying the characteristics of animals; their genetics, their habitat, and their interaction with other species,
- Managing wildlife populations and invasive plants and animals,
- Writing research papers and reports to explain their findings,
- Giving presentations to the general public and fellow academics,
- Developing plans to conserve wildlife and the ecosystem effectively.
Wildlife biologists working today use the most updated technology to conduct research and to track the movements of animal populations.
Since wildlife biologists frequently work outdoors in sometimes very harsh conditions, outdoor skills and emotional and physical stamina are required to complete the necessary tasks of the job successfully. Also, communication skills, critical-thinking skills, observation skills, and interpersonal skills are all recommended to ensure triumph in the field of wildlife biology.
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Brilliant Reasons for Studying Wildlife Biology
Like many university programmes, the academic discipline of wildlife biology can be challenging with its extensive coursework and independent research; nevertheless, success and acquisition of a degree are possible with hard work, motivation, and dedication.
A career as a wildlife biologist is downright amazing, and the following are some of the most brilliant reasons for studying wildlife biology:
- Close Interaction with Animals: wildlife biologists have the great outdoors as their office; therefore, they share their workspace with distinct species from all over the world. Of all biological sciences, animal lovers do exceptionally well as a wildlife biologist,
- Opportunities to Travel the World: field study opportunities bring wildlife biologists to various parts of the world such as the Amazon or the African jungle. Travelling is part of the job that is most appreciated by travel enthusiasts.
The reasons mentioned above are just two of the many brilliant motives for studying to become a wildlife biologist. If this career interests you, take a peek at the following subheading to discover where wildlife biology can be studied in the UK.
And if you aren't yet convinced, then let Seth Magle, Urban Wildlife Institute, tell you why being a wildlife biologist is so cool from the point of view of someone who is actively working in the field?
Speaking to via the humansandnature.org channel, Magle says of his own reasons for choosing to follow this path:
"I suspect the real reason I study urban wildlife is, at heart, the same reason anybody studies anything—because it fascinates me, in a way that’s difficult to put into words. Humans, the ultimate ecosystem engineers, have built immense, sprawling concrete and asphalt complexes, for the express purpose of housing ourselves in relative comfort. But as we did so, we also created new and relatively unknown selective pressures on wildlife. Many species, understandably, could not adapt to this hugely altered system, or at least have not yet. Others seemed to feel at home straight away. And still others are only just beginning to poke their noses and beaks into our towns and cities, trying to find their own urban niche. How can we predict which species will thrive? How can we reduce conflicts with nuisance species? Can urban areas serve as refugia for rare and imperiled animals? These are all fairly new questions, and big unknowns attract scientists like statues attract pigeons. I am certainly no exception."
And speaking of pigeons, wouldn't you like to carry out research on urban creatures such as these so-called feral birds? You see, far from the common perception that pigeons are "rats with wings", as stated by Woody Allen's character in the 1980s film Stardust Memories, feral pigeons have been about for around 6,000 years and have played a key part in agricultural development in many countries.
Where to Study Wildlife Biology in the United Kingdom
Since the world is filled with so many distinct creatures and awe-inspiring species, many sciences and nature lovers from all over the world have considered a career in wildlife biology at one point or another in their life and citizens of the UK are no different.
It is important to note that there are many university programmes in wildlife biology available to study as part of further education in distinct regions of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The following are some of the most highly recommended wildlife biology courses offered in the United Kingdom:
Manchester Metropolitan University
The BSc (Hons) in Wildlife Biology is an undergraduate course that has a duration of three years. Located on the Manchester Campus, students reviewing wildlife biology at the Manchester Metropolitan University develop the necessary knowledge and skills to become equipped in working as a wildlife biologist. If undergraduate students decide to take the four-year programme, they have the prospects of studying a research project abroad in other parts of Europe, North America, or Australasia. Practical skills are honed in the laboratory and in the field to provide students with the opportunity of conducting fieldwork in Portugal, Tanzania, Kenya, or South America. There are many more intriguing features, benefits and details about Manchester Metropolitan University's wildlife biology course to be seen below.
Below is an overview of the Wildlife Biology course, as described by Manchester Metropolitan University:
"On our specialist Wildlife Biology course, you’ll have the chance to step into the world of wild animals, to investigate aspects of their taxonomy, evolution, ecology, behaviour and conservation. It’s a course with the flexibility to discover various specialised topics within the field, from habitat management and sustainable management of biological resources, to animal behaviour and conservation.
While you’ll find a strong focus on the UK’s wildlife, there’s a significant international element too. Study Wildlife Biology at Manchester Met and you’ll have the opportunity to get involved in field courses and project work across Europe and South America. And, with the option to take a four-year route, you can even spend a year studying with a university overseas – or working on a placement with a relevant company or non-governmental organisation.
Throughout the course, you’ll not only develop an in-depth understanding of the theories and thinking behind the study of wildlife, but you’ll also build a set of valuable transferable skills. So, while you’ll hone your laboratory skills by working with our specialist equipment, you’ll also develop the analytical skills useful in the conservation and management of biodiversity."
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University of South Wales
The full-time, three-year BSc in wildlife biology course available at the University of South Wales is a beautiful option for students to learn all the necessary information and skills to become a professional wildlife biologist. Students review a wide variety of topics throughout their three years of learning such as biological research skills, principles of ecology, vertebrate zoology, and marine and freshwater biology. Many past students have gone on to enjoy a successful career as a wildlife biologist and have rave reviews about their teachers, curriculum, and learning experience at the University of South Wales. Check out their informative website or the details below to acquire more information.
Here is a short description of what you can expect when enrolled on this course, as given by the University of South Wales:
"Wildlife biology is the study of organisms, their behaviour, ecology, environment and management. On USW's unique International Wildlife Biology degree you will study and interpret the biological processes and interactions that determine species diversity and distribution, their responses to biotic and abiotic factors, and apply current scientific thinking and practices to wildlife biology research and management in globally changing landscapes.
There is a strong practical field element to this International Wildlife Biology course, providing opportunities for immersive learning on three continents. You will study the wildlife and habitats of diﬀerent landscapes in South Africa, which is a compulsory component of the course.
You will also develop your scientific skills on UK field trips, and have the option to apply research techniques in the tropical forests and coral reefs of Asia or Central America.
Typical study subjects include big game tracking, conservation genetics, wildlife management, ecology, vertebrate zoology, marine and freshwater biology."
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University of Salford
A BSc (Hons) course in wildlife conservation with zoo biology is offered at the University of Salford at the School of Environment & Life Sciences. While studying this three-year programme, undergraduate students acquire the practical skills used in wildlife conservation and zoos and have the possibility to take a work placement in the UK, Europe, or worldwide. Check out their website to attain further information about this interesting course.
Here is the course in a nutshell:
"Loss of biodiversity is an increasing concern at national, European and global levels. To work as a professional with wildlife and in conservation you will need both practical skills and knowledge of theory to meet the challenge of saving our wildlife and wild places.
This course focuses on conservation both in zoos and in the wild which is ideal if you wish to pursue a career involving wildlife, working in either of those environments. The School also has close links with local zoos and aquariums to provide you with a wide range of experiences throughout your course.
One of the key features of this course is our strong emphasis on field trips – these include day trips as well as national and overseas residential trips with the majority of these trips being free.
This course received 90% overall students satisfaction and this programme has been accredited by the Royal Society of Biology."
In this course, students will...
- Acquire the practical skills used in wildlife conservation and zoos
- Have the opportunity to go on a variety of field trips, including to the Amazon
- Combine knowledge of theory with practical skills"
With the previously stated options, studying wildlife biology to pursue an exciting career as a wildlife biologist is extremely accessible to citizens of the UK. It is important to mention that the three options mentioned above are only some of the highly recommended programmes; there are more wildlife biology courses offered at other academic institutions.
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Can I Qualify As A Wildlife Biologist Online?
While you can easily find a Bachelor's Degree in Wildlife Biology or related fields, as proven with the courses listed above, this is not a subject that can easily be studied online. Due to the specificity of the subject matter, online programmes in this type of biology are rare. That said, it is almost impossible to not find what you need on the net so there are certain courses that might interest you nevertheless.
Remember, you have the opportunity to look for on and off-campus programs in related fields, such as biology, ecology, zoology, wildlife management, fish and wildlife conservation.
Below is a course we found that will enable you to carry out your studies remotely:
Level 3 Diploma in Zookeeping
At £2,300, this fee includes all course materials, tutoring, certification, practical training at Blackpool Zoo (1 week) in addition to a Blackpool Zoo & Animal Jobs Direct branded jacket, sweatshirt and t-shirt.
"The Ofqual-regulated Level 3 Diploma in Zookeeping is an ideal qualification for anyone looking to pursue a career working in zoos as a zookeeper, or in a voluntary capacity working with wildlife in captivity in zoos, safari parks, wildlife collections etc.
The Zookeeper qualification consists of theory and practical training.
The theory is studied online from home, at your own pace and with full tutor support. The practical training consists of 1 week training at Blackpool Zoo.
This is a fantastic opportunity to gain for experiential learning with a variety of species at this prestigious award winning Zoo. Blackpool Zoo is a 32-acre zoo located in Blackpool, Lancashire, England - this well regarded zoo provides excellent, well established practical training and is home to over 1,350 animals from all over the world including lions, tigers, elephants, gorillas, zebras, flamingos, penguins, ostriches, owls, tortoises and more."
What's more, the course is open to anyone over the age of sixteen and you don't need any prior qualifications or experience.
If this course sounds interesting to you, then the next available term dates are from the 12th to the 16th of October 2020.
The Best Jobs Available for Wildlife Biology Graduates
Before embarking on a journey of further education to acquire a Bachelor's degree from a university in a specific field of study, it is important to be logical and choose a career that you will enjoy and at the time find work.
There are many university grads who have spent thousands of pounds on their studies and are unemployed since there are no job openings in their field of study.
Therefore, before spending three to four years of your life studying to acquire a degree in wildlife biology, you may ask yourself: what are some of the jobs available for recent graduates with a diploma in wildlife biology?
The following are the best jobs available for wildlife biology university grads:
- Zoologist: an excellent job for wildlife biology grads who want to work in a zoo near them. In many cases, zoologists are called wildlife biologists if they perform their tasks in forests, jungles, or deserts. They may collect data about animal populations, and conduct experiments with animals in controlled and natural settings. A zoologist has a profound love for animals and constantly works toward the conservation of wildlife,
- Game Warden: the typical tasks of a game warden include protecting fish and wildlife and enforcing hunting, fishing, and boating laws. In some situations game wardens investigate crimes and make arrests; however, a significant amount of their time is also spent educating the public, helping wildlife enthusiasts, and conducting search and rescue operations. Game wardens love animals and the great outdoors. Possessing a degree in wildlife biology makes a person more appealing and eligible for the game warden or wildlife management jobs,
- College Professor: after significant training wildlife biologists become experts in their field and at times may find employment teaching higher education classes about wildlife biology and conservationism at a college or university.
- Biological Technician: the primary tasks of a biological technician include assisting a biologist or a medical scientist with experiments and testing in laboratories. As a result of the skills and knowledge honed to attain a degree in wildlife biology, recent graduates of wildlife biology are prime candidates for jobs as a biological technician.
The previously mentioned jobs are some of the most highly recommended for recent graduates possessing a wildlife biology degree. Nevertheless, since wildlife biologists have acquired many useful qualifications they are invaluable members of any workforce and will rarely struggle to find a job.
Reviewing wildlife biology is a brilliant way to research species, aid others to realise the grand importance of conservatism, and to supplement long days at the office for "work trips" spent in the beauty of nature.
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Hear From A Real Life Wildlife Biologist
Not everyone happens to know a wildlife biologist, and it's not enough to simply rely on the course description when considering studying this subject at university level - you need to know what it's like being in the thick and thin of this science!
Moreover, finding wildlife biologists online to aspire to is quite hard. We all know the famous names such as Steve Irwin, and were able to follow his televised studies, but most biologists are too busy with their noses in their research to report their working day (which we can imagine is never the same from one day to the next and that the hours somewhat vary!) on social media or get a social media following.
Aha, but we have found someone who fits this bill and lets the world into her life as a travelling wildlife biologist. Her name is Kristina Lynn...
Kristina Lynn is a wildlife biologist from the United States who specialises in large carnivores.
She publishes career advice and vlogs for people interested in ecology, wildlife biology or environmental science as a career or way of life via a YouTube channel. Her followers can watch her going about her day at work and commenting on current events from her educated, scientific perspective.
You can catch more about Kirsitina by visiting the site wildbiologist.com, however here are some details about the fast-becoming wildlife celebrity life of Kristina Lynn:
"During my studies at the University of California, San Diego, I researched the impact of recreational trails on the movement of large predators and ungulates in a multi-agency project with California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the City of San Diego, and USGS. In 2012, I took time off school to work at a remote animal sanctuary in the Bolivian Amazon. I walked cougars through dense jungle trails and saw first-hand the impact of deforestation on the Amazon and the animals that call it home. My love for wildlife was kicked into full gear. I graduated in 2014 with a degree in ecology, animal behaviour, and evolution."
"After graduating university, I felt the call to the “Great White North” and found myself trudging through muskeg in the boreal forests of northern Canada. I researched the impact of pipelines on wildlife movement, quantified habitat loss and degradation, and recommended mitigation to reduce the negative impact of the energy industry on wild lands. My study species were grey wolf, cougars, Canada lynx, grizzly bear, and black bear. The North was where my interest in environmental activism and wildlife conservation in “the last frontier” skyrocketed. In 2016, I took time off work and backpacked a 350km+ segment of the Pacific Crest Trail known as the John Muir Trail. I also began working at a wolf-dog sanctuary at the foot of the Rocky Mountains in Alberta."
Her current-day activities
"Since 2019, I have been living on Vancouver Island with my partner and cat, Tiger. I work across Western Canada on projects involving species conservation, wildlife habitat management, and endangered wildlife. Outside of wildlife, I love gardening, backpacking, whale watching, and island-hopping."
6 Beginner Tips for Starting a Career in Wildlife Biology
We hope that the above information has helped to inform you on what a career in Wildlife Biology might mean or look like. To end this piece, we would like to share our 6 top tips for starting out in your career.
- Know what you love
It is difficult to stress the importance of knowing what you love. For example, do you love Science? Do you love working with animals? What is it about being with animals you love - nurturing them, learning about their animal instincts, understanding their evolution?
- Understand the world of Wildlife Biology
One of the reasons for the last point is to ensure that you choose the right path. For example, did you know that 99% of wildlife biology jobs are office-based for the most-part? So, if you like to be out and about with animals all day then you may wish to reconsider your job choice and look at alternative careers like those in zoology where you can get more time being alongside nature and doing what you love rather than some of the more office-reliant roles. Be sure to read up on the life of a wildlife biologist, and this means looking at more references than this post!
- Know what job you want to do
Obviously, without having your foot through the door, it can be hard to know exactly what jobs are like in the wildlife biology field. However, you can get a grasp of the types of roles that exist within this sector, and decide if you prefer to have an analytical position, a quantitative one or other. Getting this clear in your head is also really good for following the right career path. You might like to use job posting sites to view jobs that you would like to be working in (regardless of your qualifications, or lack of) so that you can recognise a pattern in requirements they need in terms of skills, assessment and experience.
- Weigh up a Master's degree or PhD
Both qualifications are advanced in level yet they offer different outcomes. Many working in the field of Wildlife Biology have stated that it can be hard to secure your first job with only a Master's, and therefore a PhD may be more worthwhile.
- Carefully choose your advisor and research topic
Some say that the lab you choose is as, if not more, important than the course you are enrolled on - so be sure to think carefully about where exactly you will carry out your studies, and don't dwell too much on the specifics of the course (so long as these cover what is necessary for your chosen path). An adviser is also your key to your next chapter, especially if they have great connections and can put you in touch with the people or departments you want to work with.
- Consider courses in other fields
While it may sound a little disheartening, we have to state that there are simply not enough job opportunities in Wildlife Biology for the interest this field gets. This means that there is a lot of luck (as well as hard work and dedication) involved in finding that dream job. But, the good news is that by studying alternative subjects alongside you Wildlife Biology course, you could be in with a chance of another career or to work in a field that crosses over with something you are passionate about, even if only in the short term while you work on your long-term plan!
To learn more about different genres of biology, check out Superprof's article about the four different types of biology.