Careers Working with Wildlife

Getting familiar with an exciting and rewarding field

There are many ways for people to get involved in working with wildlife.

Volunteer feeding a squirrel

Whether working in wildlife medicine, rehabilitation, education, and/or conservation, the general advice from experts in this field is to get hands-on experience and get to know the professionals who are working in the areas in which you want to be involved! 

This page organizes a number of resources for students and others seeking advice on how to get started. Many of these pieces focus on current and former staff members and offerings at the Wildlife Center.  

  • The Find Out section features a wealth of information about what life is like in a busy wildlife hospital. 
  • The Volunteer section connects to a number of volunteer opportunities at the Center. 
  • The Train and Learn section offers links to training opportunities and online courses through Wildlife Care Academy and the Call of the Wild Conference.
  • Becoming a Wildlife Rehabilitator links to an overview of essential  information for getting started in this rewarding field. 

Find Out

What's It Like? Days in Photos

What happens in a typical day for a wildlife vet, rehabilitator, or administrator? More than you might think! Follow Wildlife Center staff members through these photo journals, giving you a glimpse into what it's like to be a part of a non-profit wildlife hospital. 

Being in Wildlife Conservation: E-Interviews with Staff & Colleagues

What does it take to work in the wildlife field, and what are some of the most surprising and memorable moments when working with wild animals?  Check out this series of online "interviews" with staff, students, and our colleagues in the field of wildlife. Many of these were created for the first season of UNTAMED: Life is Wild, a television series that looks at the wild and often perilous world of wildlife, as seen through the eyes of the patients of the Wildlife Center of Virginia. 

Where Can it Take Me?

Many wildlife professionals have passed through the Center’s doors over the years. These former veterinary interns and fellows, along with wildlife rehabilitators and education professionals, have gone on to continue to contribute significantly to the field of wildlife medicine and rehabilitation.

Where can a career in wildlife medicine take you? Click on the names below to find out!

Name

Position at WCV

Dates at WCV

Amber Dedrick

Wildlife Rehabilitator

2011 – 2014

Dan Grove, DVM

Veterinary Intern

2002 – 2003

Camille (Harris) Hopkins, DVM, MS, PhD

Veterinary Intern

2005 – 2006

Terra Kelly, DVM, Ph.D., Dipl. ACZM

Veterinary Intern

2001 – 2002

Madis Leivits, DVM

Intern for Veterinary Diagnostics

2009 – 2010

Adam Naylor, DVM, MScWAH, CertAVP (Zoo Med) MRCVS

Veterinary Intern

2011 – 2012

Miranda Sadar, DVM, DACZM

Veterinary Fellow

2010 – 2012

Be Like Ed: Preparing for a Job in Wildlife Conservation

In 2019, Wildlife Center co-founder Ed Clark was interviewed about Season 1 of the Wildlife Center television show UNTAMED: Life is Wild. In the course of the interview, Ed was asked: 

“What is your advice for someone who wants to work in the wildlife field?” His answer was illuminating:

“To some extent, my advice to people who are looking for their dream job is to get to know your own dreams first!  Don’t try to put yourself into what you imagine to be someone else’s dream job.  Give real consideration to what gives you joy, and the things about which you are passionate in life—not just causes, but lifestyles, values, ethics, and activities ...”

Read the full interview with Ed.

Volunteer

Volunteer coordinator with volunteerOne of the best ways to explore a career in wildlife conservation is to dive in and volunteer. The Wildlife Center offers several avenues for donating time and skills. We need veterinary volunteers for various hospital or housekeeping tasks. Transport volunteers help bring rescued wildlife to and from the Center. Outreach volunteers work with our education team to communicate messages to the public about the lessons learned in our clinic. Find out more:

 

Train and Learn

Working with wildlife requires dedication and expertise. Since its inception, the Wildlife Center has focused on developing programs to help emerging and established professionals gain that expertise and advance in the profession. In addition to internships and externships in the field, the Center offers other educational opportunities for wildlife professionals.

Wildlife Care Academy logo

Wildlife Care Academy

The Wildlife Center of Virginia established the Wildlife Care Academy to provide comprehensive instruction on a wide array of topics, including wildlife rehabilitation, wildlife medicine and diagnostics, capture and restraint, as well as related disciplines regarding conservation education and organization management. The Academy offers courses that are appropriate for those with established careers seeking continuing education,  and for those just getting started in the profession.

Learn More

Veterinarian workshopping physical exams in a seminar room

Call of the Wild

The Center’s annual wildlife rehabilitation conference offers lectures and workshops for wildlife rehabilitators, veterinarians, veterinary technicians, educators, and conservation professionals for continuing education credit. The annual conference is co-sponsored by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources and takes place in the fall with both online and in-person components.

Learn More

The Wildlife Center also offers on-site,  hands-on training opportunities through internships and externships for veterinarians and veterinary technicians, wildlife rehabilitators, and those interested in conservation education and outreach

Becoming a Wildlife Rehabilitator

To rehabilitate wildlife in Virginia, individuals and organizations must have a permit. The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) is the agency that issues state wildlife rehabilitation permits; federal permits (for rehabilitating migratory birds) are obtained from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The links above provide details on the permit application process and specific regulations pertaining to wildlife rehabilitation. The conditions also describe the different types of rehabilitation permits that are issued.

The Wildlife Center has resources dedicated to explaining the process of becoming a wildlife rehabilitator in Virginia. Details include various stages in the permitting process, including sponsorship and opportunities for hands-on training and continuing education at the Wildlife Center.