What is a Wildlife Educator?

What is Wildlife Education?

Wildlife education involves teaching students about wildlife. While wildlife education can occur at any age, this description focuses on education at the high school and college levels. Wildlife education involves imparting knowledge about wildlife to future generations.

What is a Wildlife Educator?

Wildlife educators teach high school and college students about wildlife conservation. They teach wildlife-related science in formal educational settings, including environmental biology, behavior, ecology, disease, toxicology, conservation strategies, and more.

What Does a Wildlife Educator Do?

Wildlife educators develop lesson plans and syllabi and teach classes of high school and college students. Tenure-track college instructors have additional responsibilities. For example, they may serve as advisors to individual graduate and Ph.D. Students. In that role they help students make the most of graduate programs and guide their research.

Professors must stay current with developments in their field. They also conduct research to advance knowledge in their field. They publish their findings in scholarly journals, and present them at professional conferences. They also serve on campus committees, as well as the committees of professional organizations in their field.

Where Does a Wildlife Educator Work?

Wildlife educators work as high school science teachers, or as faculty members at colleges and universities. While adjunct (non-tenure-track positions) positions are open to graduates with master's degrees, these jobs pay significantly less and are less stable than tenure-track positions. The vast majority of college instructors occupy tenured or tenure-track positions. They must publish scholarly papers and serve on campus committees to achieve tenure. In addition to teaching in classrooms, they may also conduct research in the field or in laboratories. They usually travel to professional conferences, which can include overseas destinations.

What is the Average Wildlife Educator Salary?

The average salary for post-secondary biological science teachers was $74,580 as of 2014.

StateTotal EmploymentBottom 25%Median SalaryTop 75%
District of Columbia620$64,580$91,040$133,450
New Hampshire250$66,800$94,090$127,050
New Jersey1,270$66,110$89,600$119,430
New Mexico-$52,510$61,640$83,580
New York3,410$55,150$77,490$120,840
North Carolina1,960$51,480$65,240$86,630
North Dakota260$66,020$91,880$119,140
Puerto Rico250$37,230$53,030$72,470
Rhode Island230$66,940$86,760$111,780
South Carolina890$47,900$63,120$75,980
South Dakota150$57,170$72,390$91,640
West Virginia210$55,570$69,230$91,670

Table data taken from BLS (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes251042.htm)

What is the Job Demand for Wildlife Educators?

Jobs for post-secondary biology teachers are expected to grow at a faster rate than average for all occupations (15% to 21%). Much of the growth will be due to new opportunities in biotechnology and biomedicine. However, increased interest in the environment and the effects of climate change on wildlife will open up opportunities in wildlife education as well.

How Do I Get a Wildlife Educator Degree?

Wildlife educators typically earn a bachelor's degree in wildlife biology, ecology, general biology, or zoology. Degree programs include coursework in animal behavior and physiology, parasitology, virology, ecology, chemistry, mathematics, and statistical software. Students may also take courses in a particular area of specialty, such as mammalogy or ichthyology.

Certification for Teaching in Public High Schools

Wildlife educators who plan to teach in public high schools will need to pursue teacher certification. Certification requirements vary by state, but always require at least a bachelor's degree, completion of a teacher preparation program, and supervised teaching experience. Many require passing scores on a general teaching test, passing a background check, and continuing professional development.

Teaching University Students

After completing an undergraduate program, students must earn a graduate degree, usually in one of the above-mentioned subjects. They then go on to complete a Ph.D. Program.

Degrees Related to Wildlife Educaton

What kind of societies and professional organizations do Wildlife Educators have?

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is a bureau within the federal government's Department of the Interior which ensures that all wildlife laws and restoration projects are being properly enforced and executed. They are not only a great resource for current wildlife laws, but also a source of Federal employment.
  • The Wildlife Society is a nonprofit conservation organization that's primarily geared towards wildlife biologists, but is also beneficial to wildlife educators. It offers free information and meetings to ensure that professionals are always up-to-date on the latest findings. It also offers publications and networking through conferences.
  • The Environmental Literacy Council offers information and curricular materials on basic environmental concepts for teachers and the public.
  • The National Environmental Education Foundation was chartered by Congress in 1990 to help the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advance environmental knowledge. It works with meteorologists, businesses, health workers, and other partners to inform, involve, and protect the public. It organizes National Environmental Education Week and runs the National Public Lands Day volunteer program. It also hosts the Earth Gauge website that provides information on the links between weather and the environment.