Education Requirements

For most rehabilitators, NWRA recommends a college degree in biology or ecology. The curriculum should include ornithology, mammalogy, animal behavior, ecology, and related wildlife and environmental subjects. Wildlife rehabilitators include veterinarians, veterinary technicians, biologists, educators, and people from diverse backgrounds. Although a college degree is not required to become a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, a biology-related degree has several advantages:

  • provides knowledge essential for quality hands-on animal care;
  • develops an understanding of wildlife as is relates to humans and the environment;
  • gives you an edge in this increasingly competitive field.

Which colleges and universities offer wildlife rehabilitation degrees?

Until recently, there were no programs that offered degrees specifically in wildlife rehabilitation; however, many schools offer degrees in biology, ecology, wildlife management, animal science, and other related fields. Within biology or animal ecology degree programs, several schools now offer areas of specialization in wildlife, wildlife care, and/or pre-veterinary medicine. Many schools offer classes related to wildlife rehabilitation such as wildlife management, behavior, ecology, field techniques, restraint, raptor physiology, and others. There are more than 60 colleges offering accredited veterinary technology or animal health technology programs in North America. Some schools are affiliated with or located near wildlife rehabilitation facilities where students can volunteer or extern. Valuable training and experience is gained by working with either a private wildlife rehabilitator or at a clinic or center.

There are 27 veterinary schools at universities in the US and 4 in Canada. Many of these schools now offer specific courses or additional study opportunities in wildlife medicine. Some of the veterinary schools even have wildlife rehabilitation centers where students can get hands-on training diagnosing and treating injured wildlife. 

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