How to become

How to Become a Wildlife Rehabilitation

How to Become a Wildlife Rehabilitation


The process of caring for sick, injured, and orphaned wild animals with the intention of rehabilitating them into their natural habitats is known as wildlife rehabilitation.

Each animal has a thorough examination, diagnosis, and treatment as part of a specially designed programme that combines hospital care, veterinarian care, food, medication, physical therapy, exercise, and pre-release conditioning. Releases are scheduled for the right time of year, weather, habitat, and place. Of course, there are some animals that cannot be saved and must be humanely put to death.

That job description initially gives the impression that you’ll spend every day of your career caring for sick or injured animals. That is a typical misunderstanding among people trying to enter the field.

To take in frightened animals or triage animal injuries, wildlife rehabilitators obviously need to be quick on their feet, have a solid understanding of animal biology, and be able to think quickly. Being a good wildlife rehabilitator involves in-depth knowledge of the particular history, diet, and behavior of the species with which they deal because wild animals differ from domesticated animals.

In reality, a wildlife rehabilitator spends only approximately a third of their time caring for animals.

What is wildlife rehabilitation?

Wildlife rehabilitation aims to give sick, hurt, and orphaned wild animals expert treatment so that they can eventually be released back into their natural habitats. Patients that have diseases or injuries that prevent them from surviving in the wild are typically killed, or put to death humanely. Occasionally, people who have healed from their wounds but lack the survival skills necessary for the wild are housed in educational facilities. Wildlife rehabilitation doesn’t aim to domesticate wild animals; rather, patients are kept in custody until they can survive on their own in the wild. Wild creatures must fear people in order to survive, hence every effort is made to develop to avoid taming rehabilitative patients and reducing human touch.

Veterinarians and wildlife rehabilitators collaborate to evaluate injuries and identify a range of ailments. Physical therapy and elementary first aid must be administered by rehabilitation specialists. Rehabilitators also need in-depth knowledge of the species they are caring for, including natural history, nutritional needs, behavioral concerns, and caging considerations due to the differences between wild and domestic animals. They must also be aware of any risks the animals can provide to rehabilitators.

Federal law protects almost all birds, but state laws cover the majority of other species. Wildlife rehabilitators need special permits from their state wildlife agency in order to operate with mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. They must fulfill a number of requirements prior to acquiring their permits, including specialized training, participation in mentorship programmes, facility inspections, and written or oral exams. Rehabilitators who want to take care of birds must also obtain U.S. permits. Wild Animals and Fish Service. After obtaining their licenses, responsible rehabilitation They stay up with published material, attend conferences, seminars, and workshops, network with other professionals in the industry, and more to further their knowledge.

Because of their education, wildlife rehabilitators can assist individuals in making decisions about whether an animal actually needs assistance. If at all possible, young animals and birds should be returned to their families; even skilled rehabilitators cannot fully replace biological parents. Rehabilitators can offer guidance on how to reunite wildlife families while keeping both the animals’ and rescuers’ security in mind. Additionally, they can offer considerate, long-term solutions when problems emerge between people and their nearby wildlife.

What is the work of a wildlife rehabilitator?

In order to get different wild creatures that are ill, hurt, orphaned back into the wild, wildlife rehabilitators evaluate and treat them. To make sure that these animals can thrive in their native habitat, they frequently collaborate with veterinarians.

Diverse mammals, birds, and reptiles can be cared for by wildlife rehabilitators. duties consist of:

  • Assessing animals and spotting wounds
  • Deciding on a treatment strategy in collaboration with veterinarians
  • Monitoring development and giving medication
  • Carefully reintroducing animals into their ecosystems
  • Putting animals in shelters or educational centers if they can’t be released back into the wild
  • Following up on released animals

Ways to train as a wildlife rehabilitation specialist

1. Obtain the necessary licenses and immunizations

Due to the range of animals you’ll encounter on a regular basis working at a rehabilitation center, you’ll need to receive immunizations. It’s vital to make sure you are protected from any illnesses that animals may be carrying, like rabies. Vaccinations can also stop diseases from being transmitted from people to animals.

To care for animals and release them back into the wild, wildlife rehabilitators will require the appropriate state and federal licenses and permissions in addition to considerable knowledge of particular animals.

2. Acquire expertise

Although a bachelor’s degree or online courses in biology or animal science are not necessary to work as a wildlife rehabilitator, they would be advantageous. While volunteering at a clinic that specializes in wildlife rehabilitation or working for a veterinarian gives you real-world experience, completing an internship can also help you learn. You can also think about joining a group that is relevant to it.

3. Become licenced

The International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council, which grants the Certified Wildlife Rehabilitator designation, must certify wildlife rehabilitators in accordance with industry standards. Candidates must pass an exam and renew their credentials every two years

in order to obtain this certification. Many rehabilitators also decide to focus on a particular species of animal, such mammals or reptiles.

4. Think about your desired workplace

A zoo, aquarium, or museum are examples of a major venue or organization where a wildlife rehabilitator might operate. Find employment in the areas where you believe your abilities would be most useful. If you completed an internship at a hospital or zoo, you might think about getting a permanent position there.

5. Apply for positions as a wildlife rehabilitator.

Start your job search once you’ve decided what kind of facility you’d like to work for. It’s crucial to examine not only your location but also the particular educational and/or technical needs of the business. You should be aware that jobs for animal rehabilitators are more prevalent in densely populated areas, so you should make sure you possess all the essential qualifications.

6. Up to date with the scene

Keep in touch with the other individuals working in wildlife rehabilitation in your network. Take classes to keep your license up to date. Read up on the newest discoveries and innovations. Consider whether you want to remain in your current role or whether you want to change in the future. For example, once you have experience rehabilitating wildlife, you might want to create your own center.

Qualifications for Wildlife Rehabilitationists

The amount of schooling needed to work as a wildlife rehabilitator is a subject of much conflicting information. To be clear, at the moment you can work as a wildlife rehabilitator without having a college degree. But it undoubtedly is helpful.

Even though volunteers make up the large majority of the staff at treatment facilities, a college degree is still necessary if you want to establish a career in this rapidly growing industry and make a living wage. The National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association advises pursuing a degree in biology or ecology with a course of study that covers ornithology, mammalogy, animal behavior, ecology, and other related wildlife and environmental topics.

A degree in biology has various benefits, yet it is not necessary to have one to work as a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

  • It imparts information necessary for high-quality practical animal care.
  • It enhances knowledge of animals in relation to people and the environment.
  • You gain a competitive advantage in this increasingly cutthroat industry.

States and provinces may also need a specific level of education, qualification, or passing an exam before issuing a license, just like many other rising environmental occupations. Check out the requirements in the state or states where you’re most likely to find employment following graduation.

Salary and employment for wildlife rehabilitation

Although the wisdom of the adage “Choose a career you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life” is widely attributed to Chinese scholar Confucius, it is likely that there aren’t many extremely rich wildlife rehabilitators. Therefore, if you want to make it your career, make sure you are passionate about the field.

Because wildlife rehabilitation institutions are nonprofits or governmental entities, their compensation scales differ from state to state. The political views of the state in which you work and the facility administrators’ capacity to raise outside funding will both have a significant impact on your remuneration.

A senior position at a larger facility may earn more than $75,000 annually, with entry-level salaries typically falling between $20,000 and $40,000.

The International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council states that the job’s annual breakdown is as follows:

35% – Taking care of animals who are ill or hurt

35% – Engaging the public through voluntary or educational projects

15% — Managing office duties

15% – Running the animal rehabilitation center

Abilities required of wildlife rehabilitator

To do their jobs as successfully as possible, wildlife rehabilitators need a wide range of hard and soft abilities. The following are some to think about.

Management of wounds

Being able to identify and treat injuries in animals in distress is essential for wildlife rehabbers.

Feeding and dietary requirements

Knowing what different species generally eat and how to feed them appropriately is crucial, especially given the possibility that many creatures you come across in this capacity are undernourished.

Cleaning of cages and animals

It is crucial to be able to give animals, especially those saved from mudslides or oil spills, a safe place to live and clean them as necessary.

Supervising and teaching

Depending on your workplace, you might be expected to instruct interns or other rehabilitators or do demonstrations.

Observation of details

You should carry out your duties meticulously and with great care, keeping the animal’s security in mind.

Strong resistance to stress

Possessing a high stress tolerance and knowing how to deal with compassion fatigue are essential due to the high pressure circumstances with distressed animals.

Work tirelessly to restore wildlife

To care for the wild creatures under their care, the majority of wildlife rehabilitators collaborate closely with veterinarians. Every day will probably be unique for a wildlife rehabilitator as they tend to a range of injured and ill animals. You will be taking care of wild, undomesticated creatures that have experienced trauma or been injured, young animals whose parents are unable to take care of them, and animals that are impaired in some way. Making a diagnosis and developing a treatment strategy in each case will require great competence in both medicine and animal behavior and biology.


How can I gain the necessary experience to work as a wildlife rehabilitator?

Think about doing an internship or volunteering at a facility that houses both native and exotic animals, such as a wildlife rehabilitation center, veterinary office, or animal conservation center. You will gain practical experience caring for various wildlife animals as a result of this.

Is working as a wildlife rehabilitator dangerous?

Working with different species could result in injuries, but safety gear and the proper immunizations should help you avoid any significant problems. To avoid bites and scratches, wildlife rehabbers wear gloves and pay attention to an animal’s movements.

Can wildlife rehabbers operate with a certain kind of animal?

Specific species are the focus of some centers and facilities. For instance, some people might deal with both domestic and exotic animals, while others specialize in working with small mammals or reptiles.

What professions are akin to rehabilitating wildlife?

There are numerous choices available if you’re interested in pursuing a career as a wildlife rehabilitator or another position that enables you to deal with animals. Several relevant professional pathways are listed below:

  • Biologist for wildlife
  • Wildlife specialist
  • Ecological officer
  • Conservationist
  • Zoologist
  • Fisheries expert
  • Engineer, environmental
  • Veterinarian
  • Veterinary assistant
  • Animal keeper
What steps may a 15-year-old take to launch a career in this field?

Check to see whether a nearby state park, wildlife center, or refuge uses volunteers, or offers to work at an animal shelter or veterinary clinic.

At my early age, can We still perform this type of work?

Many shelters accept volunteers above the age of 13 but often require an orientation or some training.