The Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences degree (B.S.) with a Fisheries Focus prepares students for careers as fisheries professionals with state and federal agencies, conservation organizations, environmental consulting, and graduate school. Graduates are qualified for federal positions with agencies such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Geological Survey and others. The degree also prepares you for higher academic degrees, and about 15% of graduates go on to earn a Master’s degree. Students majoring in the Fisheries focus meet the certification requirements of The American Fisheries Society as an Associate Fisheries Professional upon graduation.
Hands-on experience is a major component of all Fisheries courses at VCSU and is applied in both laboratory and field settings. In addition, students are encouraged to seek real world experience through volunteering and summer employment opportunities with fisheries professionals. This real world experience in professional settings increases VCSU graduates’ marketability when entering the workforce. VCSU faculty use established relationships with multiple state and Federal agencies to aid students in acquiring summer employment. In addition, faculty members often offer summer employment opportunities in aquatic research to current students.
You have the choice of majoring in the Fisheries, Wildlife or Conservation Law Enforcement. Many students do major in more than one Focus.
The Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences degree (B.S.) with a Wildlife Focus prepares students for careers in natural resources with state and federal agencies, conservation organizations, environmental consulting, and graduate school. Graduates are qualified for federal positions with agencies such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Geological Survey and others. State agencies that graduates commonly work for include the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, North Dakota Parks and Recreation, and the North Dakota Forest Service. Non-profit conservation organizations include Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, Delta Waterfowl, and The Nature Conservancy. The degree also prepares you for higher academic degrees. On average 15% of our graduates go on to earn a Master’s degree. Students majoring in the Wildlife focus meet the certification requirements of The Wildlife Society as an Associate Wildlife Biologist upon graduation.
Multiple field trips involving hands-on experience are taken in all wildlife courses. Faculty strongly encourage students to obtain summer work experience through summer internships. Internships provide students with great practical experience, and make VCSU graduates more competitive in the job market. Each summer around 50 students have an internship in some area of natural resources. VCSU faculty have a close working relationship with multiple state and Federal agencies, which enables students to get hands-on experience through field trips while also networking with professionals.
The Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences degree (B.S.) with a Conservation Law Enforcement Focus prepares students for law enforcement careers related to natural resource protection with state and federal agencies. The most commonly held position with this focus is that of a Game Warden. Game Wardens are certified peace officers that dedicate their careers to enforcing laws related to natural resources. Game wardens may also be called conservation officers, game protectors, wildlife control agents, wildlife officers, and special agents. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has Federal wardens that are called Special Agents or Wildlife Inspectors, and often Refuge Managers also carry out law enforcement duties. Wildlife inspectors are responsible for ensuring that all wildlife shipments coming in and out of the country comply with federal laws.
Graduates are also qualified for positions as Park Rangers with agencies such as the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department and the National Park Service. In addition, this focus should benefit you in any natural resource position where you have some enforcement duty as part of your job.
Each agency has specific training requirements related to law enforcement. The Federal system will send employees through the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. North Dakota Game and Fish Department will send newly hired Game Wardens through the ND Peace Officer Training Program.
Multiple field trips involving hands-on experience are taken in all wildlife and fisheries courses. Faculty strongly encourage students to obtain summer work experience through summer internships, and to do a ride-along with a ND Game Warden.
Seasonal and fulltime jobs in Natural Resource Management can be competitive. Make sure you are applying for many jobs early in the season. Talk to one of our faculty members at VCSU about making your resume/C.V. as competitive as possible. At VCSU, 93% of our graduates find jobs in the field. Below are some great resources and available jobs.
- Texas A&M job board – provides a variety of wildlife, botany, and fisheries jobs along with graduate school opportunities.
- Subscribe to the Eco-log list serve – The University of Maryland hosts this email chain, which sends out postings for dozens of jobs a day. Although it is a deluge of emails, you will find many job opportunities not found in other places. Directions for signing up in link.
- USA Jobs – The Federal governments job site. The only place to apply for jobs with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The National Park Service, The Forest Service, and The Bureau of Land Management.
- Minnesota Government Website – Apply for jobs with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources here.
- North Dakota Government Website – Apply for jobs with the North Dakota Game and Fish here.
- South Dakota Government Website – Apply for jobs with the South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks here.
- Student Conservation Association – Apply for internships with the SCA, which provides opportunities to see the country and gain some on the job experiences. These jobs are relatively easy to attain.
- Conservation Job Board – Non-profit and environmental consultant work is available here.
- Environmental Career Opportunities – A website with a variety of state and county job opportunities in Natural Resources Management.
- Conservation Careers – A website focused on non-profit career opportunities.
- The Nature Conservancy – A non-profit focused on science-based management.
- Audubon Career Center – An organization focused on bird watching and conservation.
- American Fisheries Career Job Board – Jobs in fisheries management and associated careers.