Zoo Director to Marine Biologist Salaries: Wildlife Careers

Follow your passion while making a good income

Scientist revives Tiger Shark
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If you're passionate about working with animals, there are many wildlife-related jobs that can offer you a comfortable living. Here are a few rich and rewarding possibilities:

Wildlife Forensic Scientist

Wildlife forensic scientists are responsible for evaluating biological samples collected from crime scenes involving wildlife species. This job may involve testifying as an expert witness in legal proceedings. Wildlife forensic scientists may work in Federal, state and local government agency laboratories. A Bachelor of Science degree is required for this position, which fetches a median salary of 56,320, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Zoo Director

Zoo directors manage entire zoo facilities, overseeing animal collections and supervising staffs. These positions may be applied to traditional zoos, aquariums, animal parks, marine facilities and other animal-related operations. Most zoo directors hold advanced degrees in applicable fields, and many have extensive management, communications and financial planning experience. While salaries can vary widely depending on the size and quality of the facility, many zoo directors earn six-figure salaries.

Marine Biologist or Marine Mammalogist

Marine biologists study a wide variety of aquatic species, while marine mammalogists exclusively focus on marine mammals. Both positions may be found in research fields, academic institutions, and private sector operations. Advanced degrees and extensive training are typically required. Annual salaries for these positions range from $40,000 for entry-level positions, to over 100,000 for top-level roles. Compensation varies greatly based on an individual’s education, professional experience, and sub-specialty expertise.

Wildlife Biologist

Wildlife biologists conduct research on animal populations in the wild. Their roles may involve monitoring population dynamics, tracking animal movements and developing strategic plans for habitat maintenance. Wildlife biologists may find employment in research facilities, educational institutions or governmental agencies. Salaries range from $60,000 to $70,000.


Zoologists—biologists who study animal species—are typically employed by zoos, aquariums, marine parks, governmental agencies, and educational institutions. Roles commonly deal with research, academia, and animal management. This position requires a bachelor's degree, while advanced degrees are usually necessary for senior positions and research roles. A zoologist's salary ranges between $60,000 and $70,000.

Fish and Game Warden

Fish and game wardens patrol designated areas to ensure wildlife species are protected from human behavior. These operatives are authorized to arrest individuals who violate laws and they may seize weapons from hunters who fail to comply with regulatory statutes. They may also assist wildlife biologists with research projects and data collection. Furthermore, they can help investigate damage caused by wild animals. A two-year degree is generally necessary for entry to this field, and prior law enforcement experience can help people attain such positions, which may be found with local, state and Federal governmental agencies.

Salaries generally range from 30,000 to $50,000, however higher-level wardens can earn up to $80,000.