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Career Options for Nature and Wildlife Enthusiasts

Explore jobs that’ll get you out of the office and into the great outdoors.

| May/June 2019

Photo by flickr/National Park Service.

As the chair of a university range and wildlife program, I’m often asked to speak to prospective students about our curriculum. I always ask students what job they’d like to pursue with a range and wildlife degree, and, incredibly, I always get the same two answers: game warden or park ranger. This amazes me, because more than 100 types of employment opportunities are available to those who are interested in working with wild animals, like the idea of being outdoors more than being behind a desk, and enjoy outdoor activities, such as camping, hiking, hunting, and fishing. Jobs exist all over the country, including within federal and state government, in the private sector, in education, and with nonprofit organizations. Let’s take a look at some of the options.

Federal Level

The United States government manages more than 600 million acres, the majority of which are located in the western half of the country.

An agency of the U.S. Department of the Interior, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages approximately 245 million acres, as well as about 700 million acres of federal subsurface mineral estate.

Most of the land managed by the BLM is dedicated to livestock grazing, and the agency administers nearly 18,000 permits and leases to ranchers. However, the agency is mandated by the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, which dictates that all natural resources on BLM land must be managed to obtain the optimal sustained use, including wildlife, rangeland, water resources, and recreational uses. The BLM employs about 9,000 professionals, many of whom are rangeland and wildlife specialists.

A career in wildlife can offer many opportunities to share your interest and knowledge in nature with others. Consider going into education, or look into opportunities that exist within various agencies, such as guided nature hikes and school field trips. Photo by flickr/Bureau of Land Management.

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