Careers in Wildlife Conservation
A career in wildlife conservation is rewarding and challenging. Conservation professionals dedicate their careers to managing and protecting wildlife for current and future generations and ensuring meaningful opportunities for outdoor recreation and the opportunity to connect to nature.
At a state wildlife conservation agency like the Pennsylvania Game Commission, a career can take you down many exciting paths. Agency professionals are scientists, law enforcement officers, habitat managers, communicators, educators and more, and united by a common conservation mission.
Discover more about career areas, skills, education, and the day-to-day life of a Game Commission employee below. You can also learn how to begin preparing yourself today by checking out our Wildlife Conservation Career Top 5 FAQs for Students. To learn about specific internships and jobs available, please visit Career Opportunities. For Educators, check out our Wildlife Conservation Career Lesson Plan.
Want to apply scientific principles to the hands-on study of wildlife? These are the careers for you! State wildlife biologists apply scientific principles to the hands-on study of wildlife. These biologists often have different focus areas. They may be experts on specific species, or focus on species diversity and genetics, or work on game or non-game species. Wildlife technicians and disease specialists conduct field research to understand the health of state wildlife populations. On any given day, you may band a migrating Canada goose, take dental samples from a white-tailed deer, install a barn owl nest box, or crawl into a black bear's den!
Land and Habitat Management
Wildlife need food, water, shelter, and space to thrive. Human development like agriculture, residential and commercial properties take up a lot of space. That's why the Game Commission owns and manages 1.5 million acres in Pennsylvania for wildlife. Land managers and foresters take an ecosystem view of these lands, ensuring vital habitat for wildlife is always available. Prescribed fire crews use this once-natural feature on the landscape in a controlled fashion to manage forest and grassland areas. Habitat crews, which includes game lands maintenance workers, put into action the habitat and ecosystem restoration plans created by managers and other experts. If you like being outside, working hard for wildlife, this is the career path for you!
Poaching, illegally selling species across state lines, hunting without a license. These are just a few of the wildlife crimes state game wardens are responsible for monitoring. They enforce wildlife law and regulations, respond to nuisance wildlife calls, educate the public about wildlife issues, and may even go undercover to penetrate illegal wildlife smuggling rings! Game wardens protect and speak for wildlife because animals cannot speak for themselves. They are state law enforcement officers that have enforcement authority throughout the commonwealth.
Marketing and Communications
A primary funding source for wildlife conservation is the sale of hunting licenses. Without a robust, engaged hunting population, funding for habitat management, ecosystem restoration, and endangered species protection would be limited. Marketing professionals inform the public about hunting and trapping opportunities while communication professionals like videographers, public relations experts, and social/digital media managers ensure clear communication to the public. Like nothing more than talking turkey, consider making it a career!
Outreach and Education
Future generations cannot carry on the tradition of conserving wildlife without education today. That is why every employee at the Game Commission is an educator, working to share the work and principles that underpin our state's shared conservation heritage. Dedicated education and outreach professionals may guide school and adult membership groups, as well as the public, through wildlife lessons and activities. Specific programs like R3 (Recruit, Retention, Reactivation) are intended to reach out to new or lapsed recreationists, providing them a bridge back to hunting and trapping.
GIS and Mapping
Are you a big picture person? Geographic Information Systems and other technologies enable the agency to make informed decisions about ecosystems and habitat. This includes land acquisition targets, biometric work, and recommendations to policymakers for new state game lands and other conservation areas.
Wildlife on WiFi
Our vision is to connect Pennsylvania residents to their state’s wildlife from anywhere. To achieve this, the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Wildlife on WiFi program provides innovative online learning opportunities, virtual lessons and educational resources about wildlife and its conservation.