A wildlife rehabilitator works with injured and orphaned wild birds, mammals and reptiles, among others, so you can prepare them for release to their homes. You will be working with veterinarians to diagnose various illnesses of these animals and help in their rehabilitation and care. Once the animals have recovered, you will be releasing them in the wild. If the animals have been healed but aren’t fit to survive in the wild, you will coordinate in placing them in educational institutions.
As a wildlife rehabilitator, you will be called upon anytime of the day or night to rescue wild animals. Since most of these animals are most likely injured, you will be providing first aid to them before bringing them to the rescue center. You must be mindful of the dangers that you are going to encounter while giving first aid since wild animals can exhibit aggressive behavior like biting. If the animal still stands no chance of survival after being given a full course of treatment, you may have to euthanize it.
An integral part of your work as a wildlife rehabilitator is educating the public about wildlife conservation. As human population grows and continue to encroach into the space of wild animals, making people understand what is happening is part of your work.
To succeed as a wildlife rehabilitator, you must have a genuine passion for wildlife conservation inasmuch as you will be called on at different times of the day or night to rescue an animal. You must have the physical stamina since the work can require carrying and lifting of heavy animals, crawling or bending in cramped spaces and working in inclement weather. You must also possess problem solving skills since you will need to find solutions to various problems involving wild animals and their habitats especially as they relate to human encroachment.
Why Become A Wildlife Rehabilitator
A career as a wildlife rehabilitator is well-suited for those who want to work with wild animals and enjoy the great outdoors. It is also a fulfilling career for those who are passionate about nature and wildlife conservation. As public consciousness about the need to save wildlife takes to the fore, the need for these professionals is expected to grow in the next few years. However, this is still primarily a position that involves a heartfelt dedication to wildlife since the pay isn’t lucrative. Many rehabilitators are also unpaid volunteers.
Wildlife rehabilitators are hired by rescue and rehabilitation centers run by nonprofit organizations. Many of them, however, run their own wildlife rehabilitation operations from their own homes. Doing so requires adherence to local rules and ordinances and the need to obtain state and/or federal permits in wildlife rehabilitation. Those who are based at home may have fulltime or part-time jobs outside of wildlife rehabilitation in order to help pay for the costs that running a center entails. Rehabilitators can expect to be called anytime an animal needs to be rescued and need to possess the stamina and physical strength to do the work.
Wildlife Rehabilitator Salary
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not have salary data specifically for wildlife rehabilitators but it does have wage information for animal care and service workers, the broader educational category for this profession. The mean annual wage for animal care and service workers is $23,580. Nonfarm animal caretakers, receive $22,970. This is lower than what $32,400 paid to animal trainers each year. Volunteer wildlife rehabilitators don’t receive pay.
Wildlife Rehabilitator Career Outlook
There are good opportunities for animal care and service workers which include wildlife rehabilitators. In the decade covering 2012 to 2022, the employment rate of these workers is set to grow 15 percent. This rate is faster than the average for all job types. High job turnovers and continuing employment growth will fuel demand.
Wildlife Rehabilitator Degree
Wildlife rehabilitators don’t need a college degree to become licensed but a bachelor’s degree in biology or ecology will provide the necessary knowledge and skills to give quality care to animals rescued. A background in wildlife management, mammalogy and animal behavior will help deepen understanding on the relationship between people, the environment and wildlife. Before aspiring rehabilitators can be issued permits to work with birds and other types of wildlife by state and federal agencies, they must meet particular requirements that include but are not limited to specialized training, facility inspections and passing exams.