To become a wildlife manager, it is necessary to attend college in order to receive a degree. Most agencies and organizations which have wildlife managers on their staffs require at bachelor's degree, although some will accept people with associate's degrees and at least two years of experience. Working straight out of high school is very unusual and is usually entry level only, sometimes with no possibility for advancement. People who also choose to attend graduate school can widen their employment opportunities considerably in addition to potentially being able to earn more.
Wildlife managers work for state agencies as well as private preserves. Their jobs involve managing populations of wild animals so that they are sustainable. This includes surveying and studying those populations, relocating pests, culling if necessary, protecting the natural environment, supervising hunting activities, pursuing poachers, and maintaining equipment related to the work. Someone who wants to become a wildlife manager should have an interest in wildlife, of course, along with the ability to work outdoors in variable conditions. Wildlife managers also work with members of the public and thus public relations skills are very helpful.
Preparation to become a wildlife manager can start in high school. Taking coursework which focuses on biology, natural resources, and related topics will help students prepare for college. High school students may also be able to access internships which involve working with animals, participating in wildlife research, and similar activities. These internships can help students get into top notch schools which will prepare them more fully for careers in wildlife management.
Many colleges and universities offer topics in fields like forestry, biology, wildlife management, and related subjects. Students should plan on majoring in one of those topics. If a student wants to become a park ranger or similar law enforcement officer, it will also be necessary to attend a law enforcement academy in order to become a wildlife manager. With a four year degree, students can apply to graduate schools which will offer additional training and research opportunities.
Graduate school is not necessarily required. A student may be able to find an ideal job with a four year degree. Other students may opt to enter the field right away with a bachelor's degree, and to return to graduate school later. Once someone has become a wildlife manager, sometimes areas of research and interest present themselves and the wildlife manager decides to go back to school to learn more. Some employers may even assist with this, paying part of the tuition and offering other incentives to employers who return to school for more training.