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Wildlife rehabilitation, is it a good career choice?

Living in a country full of such rich wildlife is incredibly inspiring, especially with how unique and fascinating these majestic creatures are. But sometimes our native species need a helping hand. That’s where wildlife rehabilitation comes in.

If you have a passion for wildlife and animals, rehabilitation could be the dream job for you. But is it a good career choice? Are there other options for working with wildlife? And can you make decent money as a wildlife rehabilitator? 

We’re here to answer all these common questions and more. To help you discover exactly how you can put your passion for animals into action. 

Wildlife rehabilitation- what is it?

Wildlife rehabilitation primarily involves the temporary care and treatment of injured, sick or even orphaned wildlife.

Whilst non-domesticated native species should always remain in the wild, rehabilitation is sometimes called for in order to support their survival. By helping sick or injured animals, the purpose of rehabilitation is to nurse these animals back to health, so they can be released back to their natural habitat.

Help can be required after natural disasters, like bushfires for example. Or after human interference, such as road traffic accidents, destruction of wildlife habitat, poisoning, or being caught in traps & fishing lines.

Therefore, wildlife rehabilitation can be a rewarding, but also very challenging career choice. Seeing injured animals is not for the faint-hearted. On the other hand, releasing these gorgeous animals after recovery can be extremely fulfilling too.

What does the job entail?

The work of rehabilitation workers often involves the following:

  • Cleaning cages and pens
  • Managing rescue facilities
  • Receiving calls from the public and determining the best course of action
  • Daily rounds and observations of animal wellbeing
  • Humanely resolving human/animal conflict or household pest situations
  • Administering and following veterinary advice for injured animals
  • Assisting with veterinary examinations and surgeries
  • Physical therapy/exercise sessions for the animals in your centre
  • Caring for orphaned or injured baby animals
  • Clerical duties and administrative tasks such as bookkeeping and fundraising
  • Researching species to determine the best diet, caging and release practices
  • Releasing healthy wildlife into suitable environments
  • Public education on wildlife and habitat conservation

Wildlife rehabilitation is not a 9-5 job. The work varies season to season, with summer being chock-full of baby animals in need of care. This could mean 16 hour days in some months! However, winter is generally much quieter.

Where do rehabilitators work?

Wildlife rehabilitators can work in various environments. This includes government agencies, zoos, sanctuaries, humane societies or nonprofit groups.

Many rehabilitators work part-time, having another primary job elsewhere. Some are a vet, vet assistant, zoologist, or biologist and use their skills to help wildlife in need around their job.

Some rehabilitators specialise in working with specific species. Such as birds, small mammals, marsupials or marine life. However, most gain experience with a wide variety of animals first, before focusing on a specific interest.

Some rehabilitators work in emergency response teams that respond to alert calls. These teams travel to animals in distress, such as the site of an oil spill, hurricanes, wildfire or illegal zoos.

What makes a good wildlife rehabilitator?

Wildlife rehabilitators can work in various environments. This includes government agencies, zoos, sanctuaries, humane societies or nonprofit groups.

Many rehabilitators work part-time, having another primary job elsewhere. Some are a vet, vet assistant, zoologist, or biologist and use their skills to help wildlife in need around their job.

Some rehabilitators specialise in working with specific species. Such as birds, small mammals, marsupials or marine life. However, most gain experience with a wide variety of animals first, before focusing on a specific interest.

Some rehabilitators work in emergency response teams that respond to alert calls. These teams travel to animals in distress, such as the site of an oil spill, hurricanes, wildfire or illegal zoos.

How do you become a wildlife rehabilitator?

While no formal education is needed to become a rehabilitator, experience in skills such as animal care, welfare & handling, wildlife studies, business and administration will be indispensable.

To be able to jump in and start with a foundation of knowledge will help you secure a role in this fast-paced and passionate industry.

What do wildlife rehabilitators earn?

Most wildlife rehabilitators are volunteers. Paid positions do exist, however, but they are more competitive to secure.

The average wildlife rehabilitator salary is between $20,000 and $40,000, with senior positions at the largest facilities having salaries of up to $50,000. Salaries often depend on the resources and fundraising ability of each individual centre.

The greater the preparation and the number of skills you have beforehand, the better positioned you are to secure a paid role. Which is why we have a range of courses built to suit anyone looking to become a paid rehabilitator, with our certificates in Wildlife Conservation & Management, Animal Welfare & Animal Care.

These will equip you with comprehensive knowledge and understanding of all the essential skills a rehabilitator needs. Such as:

  • Administration & centre management
  • Health and safety training
  • Common diseases & ailments
  • Common treatments
  • Animal behaviour
  • Rehabilitation practices
  • Ecology & wildlife Habitats
  • Wildlife management techniques

Meaning you will be equipped to offer relevant and useful skills to a rehabilitation team, standing you in great stead to start your dream career as a wildlife superhero!

What if rehabilitation isn’t for me?

If you love wildlife but aren’t sure rehabilitation is for you, there are many other ways to work with our numerous native species. We have certificates in Zoology, Bird Care, Marine Studies & a Vet Assistant course too.

Whatever your animal kingdom passion, we’ll help you master the skills with a wildlife certificate, so you can make a difference to our incredible native species.