What does it take to become a wildlife rehabilitator?
Helping and conserving wildlife is an interest of mine. What major or classes should I look at to become one? #wildlife-rehablilitation #wildlife-conservation #wildlife-biology #biology
I wanted to contribute since I do wildlife rehabilitation as a hobby and did not go to school for any type of science. For me, I volunteered at a few animal rescues to make sure it was something I was truly interested in and something that I could emotionally handle! Then, I took 2 tests: one through the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council, and then a state test. Passing these tests (along with some other paperwork) let's you work under a licensed rehabber. Once you do a year with your sponsor, you can get a different license to rehabilitate wildlife on your own. You can decide to just work with other rehabbers, or make a space in your own home. All states are a little different, but that was my experience in Rhode Island.
For me, I wish I went to school to do something with animals in the first place! But becoming a rehabber later in life, or with a different type of degree, is always an option :-)
The first and most important thing you need is a passion for animals - be prepared to care for anything from snakes to deer!
If you are thinking of going to college, you may consider a major in Zoology, Animal Behavior, Biology, or Environmental sciences. One of the great things about Wildlife Rehabilitation, though, is that you don’t necessarily need to have any of these majors!
I have met and worked with Wildlife Rehabbers who graduated with degrees like Criminal Justice, Accounting, and Dance!
While I am not a licensed wildlife rehabbed, I have several hundred hours of hands-on experience caring for animals of all kinds (squirrels, skunks, hatchling and nestling songbirds, raptors, etc.) - and I majored in anthropology!
Instead, the most important thing for actual employment is looking at what certifications you need. Each state may have different requirements and laws about keeping and handling wildlife.
Example: In one state, you may need 1,000 hours of hands on work caring for wild animals, need to pass a tough exam, and also need to be “sponsored” by a recognized wildlife rehab facility.
The first step to any of this is finding a way to do hands-on work caring for wild animals. Search for wildlife rehab centers near you, and contact them for volunteer or internship opportunities!