Wildlife rehabilitation is an emerging profession which blends veterinary medicine, natural history, animal behaviour, and environmental and animal ethics, with public service and education. Wildlife rehabilitators offer first-aid, supportive care, exercise, and re-training to injured, sick, orphaned, and distressed wildlife, with the goal of releasing them back into their natural habitat.
Find current job opportunities available at the BC SPCA Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre (Wild ARC).
Education and experience
As demonstrated from the diverse educational backgrounds and experience of our staff, there are many paths to careers in wildlife rehabilitation.
Wildlife rehabilitators learn mostly through experience, many beginning as volunteers and interns, study from a variety of rehabilitation resources, and take basic and advanced skills workshops offered by the professional wildlife rehabilitation bodies. The International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council offers basic and advanced skills courses throughout the US and Canada, as well as on-line learning opportunities.
Technician animal care training can be obtained through the Thompson Rivers University (formerly Cariboo College) Animal Health Technology Program and other AHT programs across Canada.
Finally, a variety of biological sciences applicable to wildlife rehabilitation are also offered by B.C.'s colleges and universities including:
Many skills obtained through wildlife rehabilitation training are transferable to other fields such as wildlife research, conservation biology, nature interpretation, education, animal welfare, zoo biology, and veterinary medicine.
Volunteering and practicums
The best way to know if this field is right for you is to volunteer at your local wildlife rehabilitation facility. In addition, participating in your provincial or state wildlife rehabilitation network will introduce you to rehabilitators in your area, and inform you of what opportunities are available. Even better, you can attend conferences and symposiums to take part in workshops and skills training in wildlife rehabilitation.
A practicum is a great way to gain in-depth hands-on experience in the field of rehabilitation. In return for your time and efforts, the knowledge and techniques acquired will benefit your future goals. Most practicum participants have an education in animal sciences, a veterinary or veterinary technology background, or past wildlife experience. However, candidates with a strong environmental and community conscience with demonstrated community and/or volunteer work, may also be awarded practicum positions.
Careers in wildlife rehabilitation
While most rehabilitators are volunteers, paid positions in wildlife rehabilitation have increased over recent years. Typically it is the larger facilities in urban centers that have the resources for paid staff positions, and more opportunities exist in Ontario and the United States. Often there are seasonal opportunities at rehabilitation facilities for summer student employment through subsidized government grant programs.
Paid, intern, and volunteer rehabilitation positions are advertised by individual facilities and on the following websites: