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Wildlife Biologist and Fish Biologist Jobs With the National Park System (Part 3)

In part one we talked about the history of the National Park Service (NPS), some of the operating divisions in each park, and the difference between urban parks and western national parks. We featured information management jobs, which included information technology (GS-2210), biologist (GS-401), physical Scientist (GS-1301), cartographer (GS-1370), and technical information specialist (GS-1412). In part two of this series, we featured the park ranger (GS-025) and forestry technician (GS-462). In this third part we turn our attention to wildlife management (GS-0482/0486). Part 4 will feature fire fighters (GS-0401/0455/0462).


Stream Testing
Stream Testing


Wildlife Management (GS-0482/0486)

Wildlife management jobs focus on conducting research or scientific work that is involved in conserving, protecting, and administration of wildlife species. The work involves oversight and assistance in such areas as biology or fisheries. They are responsible for the management of any surrounding ecology, behavior, and conservation of the wildlife habitat. This includes wildlife management programs along with other natural resources activities, and programs for land, forest, and range management.

Wildlife Biologist (GS-0486)

One of the more interesting jobs in the field of wildlife management is wildlife biologist. Some of the main responsibilities include working with other supervisors and field managers in coordinating issues with local interest groups, Tribal Councils, and other federal agencies on biological, habitat conservation, laws and regulations.

Serves as an information liaison between State Offices (this includes State Office Lead Biologist and other employees on issues specific to Special Status Species, Threatened and Endangered Species and other wildlife matters).

Can serve on district level/field level teams that are responsible for writing and reviewing multi-field biological input to environmental and biological assessments, and develop protective and resource management plans.

They also help design and implement habitat improvement and restoration projects. Coordinate on other programs, and other federal agencies, state representatives and other non-governmental agencies.

The education requirements is the completion of a bachelor’s degree in biological science that includes, 9 semester hours in such areas as mammaology, ornithology, animal ecology, wildlife management, or research courses in the field of wildlife biology. They must also have at least 12 semester hours in zoology and 9 semester hours in botany or other related plant sciences.

For the GS-09 to GS-11 level, you must have at least 1 year of experience at the next lowest grade. The pay range for a GS-09 to GS-11 is from $48,403.00 to $76,131.00 / Per Year. You must be a U.S. citizen to apply.

For additional opportunities with other agencies review the Wildlife Biologist Series Definition that is available on our site. Other agencies hire in this series.

Fish Biologist (GS-0482)

Fish biologist is another great job in wildlife management.

The responsibilities of a fish biologist include the planning and execution of fishery biological studies. Perform established, standardized tests and analysis using a broad range of biological samples. Conduct fishery biological studies using established fact finding procedures.

Other responsibilities include planning and conducting studies on invasive species. Plan and conducts field/laboratory experiments independently. Plans, develops, and modifies studies, performs analysis, and writes comprehensive reports, publications, and can serve as a technical resource on fishery biological issues.

You will need a bachelor’s degree with a major in biological science that includes at least 6 semester hours in aquatic subjects in fishery biology, aquatic botany, oceanography, or fish culture. An additional 12 semester hours in animal sciences such as general zoology, cellular biology, genetics, or research in these fields is required.

For a GS-11 to GS-12 level, you need at least 1 year of experience at the next lowest grade level. The pay range is from $58,562.00 to $91,255.00 / per year. In order to apply for this position you must be a U.S. citizen.

Joe Yarkovich is a GS-0486-11, wildlife biologist at the Great Smoky National Park. Yarkovich indicates, “I always loved the outdoors and knew I wanted to do something that involved working outside. When I was 17 I took a backpacking trip to the Smoky Mountains and met one of the wildlife management folks in the backcountry, and after talking with him, I knew immediately that was what I wanted to do. It involved working outdoors in some of the most beautiful places in the country and let me work directly with wildlife species that I had always taken an interest. I just could not think of anything better than capturing bears for a living, and I still can’t, I love my job”.

Yarkovich emphasizes, “The most exciting part for me is actually working directly with large mammals, because you never know what they’re going to do next and they always find ways to surprise you with their ingenuity, curiosity, and adaptability. This field also involves large amounts of time and energy dealing with the public, and in many ways the reactions you get from people experiencing their first bear or elk in the wild is just as rewarding. He suggests spending a lot of time developing their communication and public relations skills. Being good at the people aspect can prove more challenging, and is a large part of the career”.

Sarah Dewey is a GS-0486-12, supervisory fish and wildlife biologist with the responsibility of overseeing, the wildlife program in Grand Teton National Park, and involved in wolf monitoring and research and bear management. Dewey states,” I chose the wildlife profession because it allowed me to combine my two passions – science and wildlife. As important, it also offered an opportunity for me to be a voice for the silent constituents of the ecosystem”. For me there are really two things that have been really exciting about being a part of wildlife management – the science or discovery aspect and then taking what you learn about a species and applying it to their management and conservation.”

Dewey further emphasizes, “The wildlife field is very competitive, but if you are passionate, persistent, and focus on developing your experience base doors will open for you. Potential employers are looking for education, experience, good observational and communication skills, and a strong work ethic. Volunteer positions provide great practical experience, demonstrate that you are committed, and allow you to get a foot in the door and show what you can do. Take time to find out what qualifications are required for the type of position you are interested in and then get the education you need. These days many wildlife professionals have advanced degrees. Develop skills that make you an asset – these could be skills in geographic information systems, photography, statistics, database management, or others.”

Matt Kulp is a GS-0486-12, in fisheries management and is a Supervisory Fishery Biologist at the Great Smoky National Park. Kulp states, “I was inspired as a child by my love of aquatic systems and then solidified my desire to do this for a career after a working on stream water quality and fish surveys as part of a High School AP Biology class and able to work with a state fish biologist.”

Kulp recommends, “Try to volunteer and/or work at several parks, state/federal agencies and/or related jobs before you make your decision to do this for a career. Also, be sure to match your education with your job choice. Secondary degrees may be necessary, but experience may be all you need for some jobs as well. Talk with folks in your field of choice and find out what they recommend for the job you’d like.”

For additional opportunities with other agencies review the Fish Biologist Series Definition that is available on our site. Other agencies hire in this series.

The NPS has opportunities that are as wide open as the vastness of its parks. So, if you like the great outdoors, than you should try the NPS.

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About The Author

A Pennsylvania native, Betty Boyd moved to the Tennessee Valley in 1994. She retired in early 2012 after 30 years of Government service. Boyd was an Acquisition Manager/IT Manager/ Project Manager during her 30-year career. Boyd also served as a supervisor and team leader during her career. In 2012 Boyd founded a consulting firm, Boyd Consulting Services, which offers writing services to clients and companies. For more information about these writing services see the following website: http://www.BettyBoydWriting.com/. Betty attended Athens State University, Athens, AL and received a B.B.A. in Management of Technology in 2000. She received her Masters of Science degree from Syracuse University with a concentration in Information Management in 2007. Boyd is a certified Level III contracting professional and she received a Masters level certificate in Project Management from the National Defense University in 2008.