Wildlife biologists are scientists who study and preserve animals and their environments. To be considered for entry-level jobs, a wildlife scientist must have a four-year degree. Postsecondary degrees are required for those pursuing advancement or who choose independent research work or college teaching roles. While education is important, having the appropriate personal skills may be just as crucial. Although no one personality profile may perfectly fit every wildlife biologist, there are certain common traits and skills that are important for success.
Curious and Adventurous
Natural curiosity and a sense of adventure are two characteristics of a wildlife biologist. Although some wildlife biologists choose to spend the majority of their time in classrooms or labs, field studies are increasingly frequent. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, working in the field usually entails considerable travel, frequently to remote locations that may lack any modern conveniences. Traveling to other countries may put biologists in touch with indigenous peoples who have vastly different cultures.
According to Minnesota State CAREERwise, biologists must be good communicators in order to educate and inform the public about environmental issues. Comprehending written and oral information is crucial both in college and on the job as a wildlife biologist. Information on animal movements, problems, and other relevant data may come in the field by telephone or radio, or the local human population may have important information to provide.
Wildlife biologists are required to report their findings, which are often done in the form of written reports or professional papers. They may be required to make presentations or speeches at times. They must also be able to communicate their thoughts and instructions to coworkers, team members, and support staff.
Strong Interpersonal Skills
Wildlife biologists are usually part of a team. Team members may include lab technicians, clerical staff, veterinarians, and other wildlife biologists while performing laboratory research. A team in the field may include several biologists, as well as a tracker or guide, veterinary staff, a medic, one or more drivers, and, if necessary, an interpreter. Wildlife biologists must be able to adapt to a wide range of personalities, educational levels, and cultural backgrounds and work effectively with them.
Detail-Oriented and Precise
Wildlife scientists are very aware that their findings may be used to inform future expeditions or political decisions. Wildlife biologists must make careful observations and properly record their results, whether they are performing a census of mountain goats, analyzing water samples for industrial pollution, or tracking the migratory trails of a grazing herd. According to the Occupational Information Network, or ONET, they must collect all of the details, evaluate them, and draw logical conclusions.
Emotional and Physical Stamina
Stamina may be emotional, such as persevering in the face of adversity or a lack of success. Field wildlife biologists, on the other hand, need physical endurance. Even with the most rugged vehicle or sure-footed mount, certain places are inaccessible, forcing the biologist to walk in while carrying his equipment and gear. Days may start early and end late. Temperatures may be severe, and wildlife biologists may be subjected to rain, snow, dust storms, or other unfavorable weather patterns.
Awareness of Limited Opportunities
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were only 21,000 wildlife biologists and zoologists working in the United States in 2020. Approximately 800 new jobs are expected to be generated by 2029, based on a predicted growth rate of only 4%. Because many of these jobs are with federal, state, or local government agencies, tax revenues and agency budgets may have an impact on real growth. Wildlife biologists don’t make a lot of money either. According to BLS statistics from May 2020, the median annual income was $66,350, with 10% making $106,320 or more per year.