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Wildlife Rehabilitator Career

Shashank Nakate
A wildlife rehabilitator career can be developed properly with the help of knowledge and dedicated service for the welfare of animals. One shouldn't expect high paying jobs in this field. This kind of job is for those who want to serve animals selflessly...
The job of a wildlife rehabilitator mainly involves taking care of animals in the process of reinstating them back in forests/natural habitats. Wildlife rehabilitators do not need a certain, specific degree. The National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association (NWRA) is an organization actively involved in the rehabilitation of wild animals.
As per the guidelines set by this organization, no formal education is needed to become a wildlife rehabilitator; there is no wildlife rehabilitator degree as such.
It is however, advisable to have a degree with specialization in biology, veterinary science, or other subjects related to animals, in order to make wildlife rehabilitator a career. Let us understand what needs to be done in order to work in this field.

How to Become a Wildlife Rehabilitator

To start off as a wildlife rehabilitator, it is necessary that one obtains enough information about animal care through books and trained professionals. In the beginning, one cannot expect a full-time job that pays well.
Selfless service is the foundation or base of wildlife rehabilitation.
As you gain experience and thereby knowledge about how to treat animals with care and responsibility, you can think about applying for positions in bigger organizations which employ wildlife rehabilitators; the wildlife rehabilitator salary is not fixed...
and depends on the funds received by the organization you work for; on an average, you can expect an income of $27,000 annually.
In order to gain experience in this field, internships, part-time jobs and seasonal jobs are considered the best.

Educational Requirements

As stated above, formal education is not necessary to become a wildlife rehabilitator. However, basic knowledge about animal care and subjects of biology/zoology is necessary. Veterinary doctors and veterinary technicians can also think about using their knowledge in this field.
Those who want to enter this field should take up courses like ornithology, animal behavior, mammology, ecology and similar subjects during college. This kind of education makes them well prepared for the job of wildlife rehabilitators.

Work Environment

Wildlife rehabilitator jobs require you to stay away from your family in most cases. Finding orphaned elephants (taking them to the family/herd) and other animals are amongst the important tasks these wildlife rehabilitators undertake these days. One can also think about staying at home and working for animals in the surrounding areas.
For example, baby birds that fall off the nests require proper medical treatment and assistance. Feeding these birds is one of the most time-consuming and tedious tasks. This is because baby birds need to be fed every 15-20 minutes (during day time) in their growing phase.
This would keep a wildlife rehabilitator busy for almost the entire day. Dealing with wild animals can be dangerous at times and it is necessary to get yourself covered with adequate medical insurance.

Types of Jobs

There are different types of jobs that wildlife rehabilitators have to perform. Caring for baby birds (described above) is one of the jobs these professionals have to handle.
The other tasks include that of working at animal rehabilitation services and providing medical treatment (bandaging, fluid therapy, etc.) to different animals, transporting injured animals to rehabilitation centers, maintaining records on animals, cleaning cages, etc.
Promoting the cause of wildlife rehabilitation in society is also one of the responsibilities shouldered by these professionals. Creating awareness on the subject of animal care, communicating with concerned citizens and similar jobs are also carried out by wildlife rehabilitators.


A license is must for those who seek to develop their career in a legitimate manner. It is necessary to obtain the required permits or licenses from federal and state agencies.
The rules for handling protected animals vary from state to state, and it is necessary to be aware of these rules. Handling protected animals species without possession of a permit can lead to legal action. It is therefore, necessary that you take all the precautions before getting into this field.
Developing a successful wildlife rehabilitator career is not as easy or fun as it seems to be. It requires knowledge about animal behavior, treatment, and most importantly, the willingness to understand what a particular animal needs.
There are variety of jobs ranging from creating awareness about stopping ivory usage to caring for baby birds that one can undertake as a wildlife rehabilitator. However, as stated earlier, selfless service is of utmost importance to serve animals.