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How to Use Your Natural Resource Degree to Land Your Dream Job

Occupations requiring natural resource-related degrees are projected to increase in the U.S. between 0.5% to 20% through 2022(1); this is also likely true in other developed countries (and less so in the underdeveloped).

Degrees focused on wildlife science or fisheries can easily transition into a range of careers from conservation officers, environmental educators, natural resources managers, nature guides, zookeepers, and many more. It’s important to note the majority of these jobs are available through state, provincial, or federal agencies.

Whether you are still in school and preparing for the professional world, or are already well-immersed in the professional setting, below are a few ways to help your resume stand out amongst other wildlife scientists.

Over the past few decades, students have transitioned from being primarily rural to primarily urban, thus lacking many outdoor skills e.g. use of map and compass, the ability to identify animal tracks, etc. However, the onset of more urbanite students possess other important skills such as information technology and computer-related skills.

How to set yourself apart from other applicants

  • Internships. An internship can be a fantastic way to support your theoretical studies with hands-on experiences. Be sure to describe what you did and what you learned. Overall, they can help you more easily transition into a professional setting.
  • Participate in undergraduate research. Much like an internship, graduate research helps you get experience and develop essential skills for future, professional success.
  • Display your ability and openness to learn new things. Training demands for wildlife biologists have been affected by changing environments and national economies, as well as increasing interests in environmental protections. Because of this, a focus on professional development and continuous learning are requirements in the field. Show your excitement for staying abreast of the latest technology via your cover letter and list your accomplishments in the resume itself.
  • Certifications. Show that you’re dedicated to the field by immersing yourself with applicable certifications and trainings. Consider becoming certified with The Wildlife Society or American Fisheries Society.
  • Explore distance education opportunities. This more affordable option allows you to interact with international locations more effectively while broadening your knowledge of various environments. Note: this is best done alongside in-person education so you have more hands-on experience, too
  • Exhibit strong communication skills. Ever-changing environments require people who can communicate to the masses, both in and outside of the scientific world.

Be sure to check out the basics of resume-writing for biology-related jobs to get started. The majority of these tips comes from Learning for the Future: Educating Career Fisheries and Wildlife Professionals in BioOne Complete.


(1) Projections made from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015