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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

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Annika’s Answer

My main piece of advice would be to get started volunteering at a rehabilitation center, or something like an AZA accredited zoo if there are no rehab centers near you. I worked at a rehab center for a while, and I got the job because I had been volunteering there for about a year. I majored in anthropology, so unless you plan to go into an extremely specific field, your major doesn't matter very much. However, if you want to go to graduate school, a college degree in something like biology, ecology, or wildlife studies would be helpful. A degree in one of those fields would be helpful no matter what if you plan to pursue wildlife rehab, but is not always necessary. The most important thing is to start volunteering and show your enthusiasm!
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Andrea’s Answer

I would suggest volunteering in any wildlife organization, plus take a look at Ecology, Biology, Geology, zoology, Vetenerary medicine programs. I believe that the combination of all of this will give you a very good perspective of how much work and effort you had to put into becoming a wildlife conservationist expert.
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Denish’s Answer

To restore wildlife species after a danger or threat has lead to their decline

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Nihal’s Answer

Hey! Some good beginning classes to take would include zoology, organic chemistry, environmental biology, and ecology to learn basic animal functions and interactions between animals and the environment to further learn how the environment affects different species. You should also try and find animal specific classes like mammalogy, herpetology, marine biology, ornithology, and classes along those lines to go more in depth in different types of wildlife you might work with in rehabilitation.
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ANA’s Answer

Hi there!

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 :-)
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Kelsey’s Answer

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!

Thank you comment icon Hey I am not a Wildlife Rehabilitator (yet) but that is my goal. I am a Wildlife Conservation major and Virginia Tech and I love it. I get to do hands on work in every lab I work in and even though it is challenging I wouldn't change it. Mostly get hands on experience. Start at a local vet clinic or shelter volunteering and continue from there. There's volunteer opportunities and wildlife rehabilitation facilities and zoos all over the country. Another area to consider is gaining some knowledge in research. This is helpful to learn about animal behavior and is also a good skill to have. Finally, make connections! Knowing people is a key in this field so keep reaching out and keep asking questions and making those connections because they can help you later. Good luck :) Abigail Parch
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Louis’s Answer

First you need a passion for animals, the environment, or conservation in general. As others have said, I would recommend majors in zoology, biology, ecology, or environmental systems. I haven't taken too many upper division classes for my major (Ecology Behavior and Evolution) yet, however I would say Genetics and Intro to Biology Lab are great starting courses to explore wildlife rehabilitation.
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