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Top 11 Wildlife Biologist Certifications

This article provides an overview of the top certifications for wildlife biologists and the requirements to obtain them.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 18 min read

Certifications are important for a wildlife biologist in the job market because they demonstrate to employers that the individual has achieved a certain level of knowledge and expertise in their field. Certification programs may include courses, exams, internships, and other activities that demonstrate mastery of a specific area of study. A certification can provide an edge over other applicants for a position by showing potential employers that the applicant is knowledgeable about the subject matter and has taken the initiative to acquire additional qualifications beyond their academic credentials. Certifications also provide assurance to employers that the applicant has met standards set by professional organizations and can be trusted with difficult tasks related to wildlife management or research.

The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the various certifications available to wildlife biologists and explain how they can help advance their careers.

What are Wildlife Biologist Certifications?

Wildlife biologist certification is a process by which wildlife biologists can demonstrate their knowledge and experience in the field of wildlife biology. Certification is achieved through rigorous examination and evaluation administered by professional organizations such as The Wildlife Society (TWS). This evaluation includes an extensive written exam, practical field work, and an oral interview.

The Wildlife Society administers the Certified Wildlife Biologist (CWB) program, which is the most widely recognized certification for wildlife biologists in the United States. By becoming a CWB, one demonstrates to employers and colleagues that they have achieved a high level of competence in their chosen field. This certification can help potential employers assess the qualifications of potential employees more accurately, allowing them to select individuals who possess a greater depth of knowledge than those without formal certification. Additionally, it provides recognition to experienced professionals who have made significant contributions to the field of wildlife biology. For those already employed in this field, achieving CWB status can be seen as an indication of commitment to the profession and may open up opportunities for advancement within their organization or lead to increased pay scales. Furthermore, certification can also provide access to professional networks and resources that are not available to non-certified individuals.

Pro Tip: When considering wildlife biologist certification, research the different certifications available and make sure it is from a reputable source. Ensure that the certification reflects your desired level of expertise and coursework, as well as any additional requirements such as field experience or continuing education.

Related: What does a Wildlife Biologist do?

Top 11 Wildlife Biologist Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Wildlife Biologists today.

1. Certified Wildlife Biologist (CWB)

A Certified Wildlife Biologist (CWB) is a professional designation awarded to individuals who have demonstrated expertise in the field of wildlife biology. The certification is granted by The Wildlife Society, an international non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the science and practice of wildlife management.

In order to become a CWB, applicants must meet certain educational requirements and pass an examination administered by The Wildlife Society. Applicants must have at least a bachelor's degree in wildlife biology or a related field from an accredited university or college, as well as two years of professional experience in the field.

The application process for becoming a CWB typically takes between four and six weeks. Once all required materials have been submitted, applicants will be notified within two weeks if their application has been accepted. If accepted, applicants will then receive instructions on how to register for the certification exam.

The cost of becoming a CWB varies depending on whether you are already a member of The Wildlife Society or not. If you are not currently a member, becoming certified will cost $250 plus an additional $50 for the exam fee. For current members, the cost is reduced to $200 plus the exam fee.

2. Certified Wildlife Habitat Manager (CWHM)

Certified Wildlife Habitat Manager (CWHM) is a certification program offered by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). The program provides training and certification to individuals who are interested in managing and restoring wildlife habitat.

The CWHM program consists of an online course, which takes approximately 8-10 hours to complete. The course covers topics such as wildlife biology, habitat management, and conservation planning. Upon successful completion of the course, participants will receive their CWHM certificate.

To get the CWHM certification, you must first register for the online course through the NWF website. The cost of the course is $99 USD. Once registered for the course, you will have access to all of its materials and resources for one year. After completing the course, you will be required to submit a final project that demonstrates your understanding of the material covered in the course. Once your project is approved by NWF staff, you will receive your CWHM certificate.

3. Certified Wildlife Educator (CWE)

Certified Wildlife Educator (CWE) is a professional certification program offered by the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association (NWRA). The CWE program was created to recognize wildlife rehabilitators and educators who demonstrate a high level of knowledge, expertise, and dedication to wildlife education. The program is designed to provide a comprehensive overview of the field of wildlife rehabilitation and education, as well as an opportunity for individuals to demonstrate their commitment to excellence in this field.

The CWE program consists of two parts: a written exam and an oral presentation. The written exam covers topics such as basic anatomy, physiology, nutrition, behavior, ecology, husbandry and medical care of wild animals. The oral presentation focuses on the applicant’s experience in teaching or presenting about wildlife rehabilitation and education.

It typically takes between 6-12 months to complete the CWE program. To get started, applicants must submit an application form along with supporting documents such as proof of educational background in biology or related fields and evidence of experience working with wild animals. Once accepted into the program, applicants will be assigned a mentor who will guide them through the process.

The cost for the CWE program varies depending on the type of coursework taken and other fees associated with it. Generally speaking, applicants should expect to pay between $500-$1000 for the entire process.

4. Certified Wildlife Rehabilitator (CWR)

A Certified Wildlife Rehabilitator (CWR) is a professional who has been certified by the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council (IWRC) to provide care for injured, orphaned, and displaced wildlife. CWRs are trained to assess the health of an animal, provide appropriate medical treatment, and release it back into its natural habitat. The certification process requires a minimum of 40 hours of training in wildlife rehabilitation and includes both classroom instruction and hands-on experience. To become a CWR, applicants must pass an exam administered by the IWRC.

The certification process typically takes between 6 months and 1 year to complete. Applicants must first register with the IWRC and pay a registration fee of $50 USD. After registering, applicants will be provided with access to the IWRC’s online course materials which they must complete in order to take the certification exam. Once applicants have successfully completed all required coursework, they can register for the exam which costs $150 USD. Upon passing the exam, applicants will receive their CWR certification from the IWRC.

In addition to completing the required coursework and passing the certification exam, applicants may also need to obtain state or local permits in order to practice as a CWR in their area. Requirements vary by location so it is important for applicants to check with their local wildlife authorities before beginning their certification process.

5. Certified Wildlife Conservation Professional (CWCP)

Certified Wildlife Conservation Professional (CWCP) is a professional certification program designed to recognize individuals who have demonstrated knowledge, experience, and commitment to the conservation of wildlife. The program is administered by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), and it is open to any individual who has a passion for wildlife conservation.

The CWCP certification process consists of two parts: an online course that covers topics such as wildlife law, habitat management, and species identification; and a field examination that tests the applicant’s knowledge of wildlife biology, ecology, and management. To become certified, applicants must complete both parts of the exam with a passing score.

The online course takes approximately 4-6 weeks to complete. The field examination can be completed in one day or over several days depending on the applicant’s availability.

The cost of the CWCP certification varies based on whether you are an NWF member or non-member. For NWF members, the cost is $250; for non-members, it is $350. This fee includes access to both the online course and field examination materials.

6. Certified Master Wildlife Conservationist (CMWC)

The Certified Master Wildlife Conservationist (CMWC) program is an advanced certification program that provides a comprehensive understanding of wildlife conservation and management. The program is offered by the National Wildlife Federation and is designed for individuals who are passionate about wildlife conservation and want to make a difference in their local communities.

The CMWC program consists of three levels: Core, Advanced, and Master. It takes approximately two years to complete all three levels, depending on the individual's experience level. The Core level focuses on basic wildlife conservation principles, while the Advanced level covers more specialized topics such as habitat management and species identification. The Master level provides an in-depth exploration of wildlife management strategies and techniques.

To become a Certified Master Wildlife Conservationist, individuals must complete all three levels of the program and pass a final exam. To enroll in the program, individuals must pay a fee which varies depending on their location. Once enrolled, students have access to online resources such as webinars, e-courses, field trips, workshops, and mentoring opportunities with experienced professionals in the field.

The cost of becoming a Certified Master Wildlife Conservationist depends on several factors including location and course materials purchased or rented. Generally speaking, it can range from $500-$2,000 USD for all three levels combined.

7. Certified Wildlife Management Professional (CWMP)

Certified Wildlife Management Professional (CWMP) is a certification program offered by the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA). The CWMP program was created to recognize individuals who have achieved a high level of knowledge and experience in wildlife management. It is designed for professionals working in the field of wildlife management, such as biologists, foresters, natural resource managers, hunters, land owners and others.

The CWMP program consists of four levels: Level 1 – Basic Knowledge; Level 2 – Advanced Knowledge; Level 3 – Professional Practice; and Level 4 – Leadership. Each level requires passing an exam and completing coursework or field experience. To become certified at each level, applicants must demonstrate knowledge and experience related to the topics covered by the exams.

The amount of time it takes to complete each level varies depending on the individual's background and experience. Generally, it takes between one and three years to complete all four levels.

To get started with the CWMP program, applicants must first submit an application form along with a nonrefundable fee of $50 USD. Once accepted into the program, applicants will be provided with access to study materials for their chosen level and will be able to register for exams when they are ready.

The cost of taking each exam varies depending on which level you are attempting. For Levels 1-3, there is a $125 USD fee per exam; for Level 4 there is a $150 USD fee per exam. Additionally, applicants may need to pay additional fees for study materials or courses related to their chosen level if required by their state or organization.

8. Certified Wildlife Damage Management Professional (CWDMP)

Certified Wildlife Damage Management Professional (CWDMP) is a professional certification program offered by the National Wildlife Control Operators Association (NWCOA). The CWDMP is designed to recognize individuals who have achieved a high level of knowledge, experience, and expertise in wildlife damage management.

The CWDMP requires applicants to pass an exam that covers topics such as species identification, habitat management, legal issues, trapping techniques, and other topics related to the control of wildlife damage. The exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions and must be completed within three hours.

To be eligible for the CWDMP certification, applicants must have at least two years of experience in wildlife damage management and have received a minimum of 40 hours of formal training in the field.

The cost for taking the exam is $250 USD. After passing the exam, applicants will receive their CWDMP certificate. This certificate is valid for five years and can be renewed by taking additional continuing education courses or participating in other activities related to wildlife damage management.

9. Certified Fisheries Professional (CFP)

Certified Fisheries Professional (CFP) is a certification program offered by the American Fisheries Society (AFS). It is designed to recognize individuals who have achieved a high level of professional competence in fisheries management, research, and education. The CFP program is open to any individual with at least five years of professional experience in fisheries-related fields.

To become certified, applicants must demonstrate knowledge and experience through an application process that includes submitting a portfolio of work samples, references from employers and colleagues, and successful completion of an oral examination. Applicants must also meet minimum educational requirements (a bachelor’s degree in fisheries or a related field) and pass a written examination.

The entire process takes approximately one year to complete. After submitting the application materials, applicants will receive an invitation to take the written exam. Once the written exam has been passed, applicants will be invited to take the oral exam. Upon successful completion of both exams, applicants will be awarded their CFP designation.

The cost for the CFP certification program varies depending on whether you are an AFS member or non-member. For AFS members, the cost is $500; for non-members it is $750.

10. Certified Natural Resources Manager (CNRM)

Certified Natural Resources Manager (CNRM) is a professional certification program offered by the Society of American Foresters (SAF). It is designed to recognize individuals who have achieved a high level of expertise in natural resource management. The program focuses on the principles and practices of sustainable forestry, wildlife management, wetland conservation, and other related areas.

To become certified as a CNRM, applicants must have at least five years of professional experience in natural resource management. They must also pass an exam administered by the SAF. The exam covers topics such as ecology, forest economics, forest policy and law, silviculture, and wildlife management.

The cost for taking the CNRM exam is $200 for SAF members and $250 for non-members. The exam can be taken at any time during the year at one of the SAF's regional offices or online through their website. Once an applicant passes the exam, they are officially certified as a CNRM and receive a certificate from the SAF.

In order to maintain their certification status, CNRMs must complete continuing education credits every three years. These credits can be obtained through attending workshops or conferences sponsored by the SAF or other organizations that focus on natural resources management.

Overall, becoming certified as a CNRM requires dedication and hard work but can provide many benefits such as increased job opportunities and recognition from peers in the field.

11. Registered Professional Biologist (RPBio).

Registered Professional Biologist (RPBio) is a designation granted by the College of Applied Biology (CAB) in British Columbia, Canada. It is a voluntary professional designation that recognizes individuals who have met the academic, experience and ethical requirements established by CAB.

To become an RPBio, applicants must hold a degree in biology or a related field from an accredited institution, have at least three years of professional experience in the biological sciences, and demonstrate their commitment to ethical practice. Applicants must also pass an examination administered by CAB to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the profession.

The process for becoming an RPBio typically takes about six months to complete. The first step is to submit an application package with supporting documents such as transcripts, references, and proof of experience. Once your application has been approved, you will be invited to take the examination. After passing the exam, you will be eligible for registration as an RPBio.

The cost of applying for RPBio varies depending on the type of application submitted. For example, applications for initial registration cost $400 CAD while applications for reinstatement cost $200 CAD. Additional fees may apply depending on your circumstances.

Do You Really Need a Wildlife Biologist Certificate?

Yes, you do need a wildlife biologist certificate if you want to pursue a career in the field of wildlife biology. The certification is important as it will help prove to potential employers that you have the knowledge and skills necessary for the job. With the certification, it will demonstrate that you have taken the time to further educate yourself on the subject matter and are ready to apply your knowledge in a professional setting.

The certification also shows employers that you are committed to the profession and have dedicated yourself to learning all there is to know about wildlife biology. This could make all the difference when an employer is looking for someone who can come in and hit the ground running with their knowledge and experience. In addition, having a certification may give you an edge over other candidates who do not possess one.

Overall, if you want to pursue a career in wildlife biology, then obtaining a wildlife biologist certificate is essential. It will give employers confidence in your abilities and show that you are serious about being successful in this field.

Related: Wildlife Biologist Resume Examples

FAQs About Wildlife Biologist Certifications

1. What certifications do Wildlife Biologists need?

Answer: Wildlife Biologists typically need to obtain a bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology, ecology, or a related field. Some employers may require certification from the Society of American Foresters (SAF) or The Wildlife Society (TWS).

2. How do I become a certified Wildlife Biologist?

Answer: To become a certified Wildlife Biologist, you must first earn a bachelor's degree in wildlife biology, ecology, or a related field. After completing an accredited program and gaining relevant experience, you can then apply for certification through the SAF or TWS.

3. How long does it take to get certified as a Wildlife Biologist?

Answer: The time frame for becoming a certified Wildlife Biologist depends on your educational background and experience level. Generally speaking, it could take anywhere from 2-5 years to complete the necessary coursework and gain the necessary experience required for certification.

4. Are there any continuing education requirements to maintain my certification?

Answer: Yes, most certifying organizations such as SAF and TWS require that certified professionals complete certain amounts of continuing education credits each year in order to maintain their certification status.

5. Is there financial assistance available to help cover the cost of obtaining certification?

Answer: Yes, some certifying organizations such as SAF and TWS offer scholarship and grant programs designed to help cover the cost of obtaining certification for eligible applicants.