Is becoming a mammalogist right for me?

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What do mammalogists do?
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How to become a Mammalogist

Becoming a mammalogist involves a combination of education, field experience, and specialization. Here are the general steps you can take to pursue this career:

  • Earn a Bachelor's Degree: Start by obtaining a Bachelor's Degree in Biology, Zoology, Ecology, or a related field. It's important to take courses that focus on mammalogy, ecology, evolution, and animal behavior during your undergraduate studies.
  • Gain Experience: Gain practical experience through internships, volunteer opportunities, or research assistant positions in mammalogy or related fields. This hands-on experience will help you build important skills and make connections in the field.
  • Continue Education: While a bachelor's degree may be sufficient for some entry-level positions, many mammalogists pursue advanced degrees for more specialized roles or research opportunities. Consider earning a Master's or Ph.D. in Mammalogy or a closely related field to further your expertise.
  • Specialize: Mammalogy is a diverse field with many sub-disciplines, such as conservation biology, ecology, genetics, and taxonomy. Consider specializing in a specific area that aligns with your interests and career goals.
  • Network: Build a professional network by attending conferences, joining professional organizations like the American Society of Mammalogists, and connecting with professionals in the field. Networking can lead to job opportunities, collaborations, and mentorship.
  • Gain Field Experience: Mammalogists often spend time conducting fieldwork to study mammals in their natural habitats. Seek out opportunities to participate in field research projects or expeditions to gain valuable experience working with different species and ecosystems.
  • Job Search: Once you have the necessary education and experience, start searching for job openings in academia, government agencies, non-profit organizations, museums, or consulting firms that specialize in mammalogy or wildlife biology.
  • Professional Development: Consider pursuing certifications or additional training to enhance your skills and credibility as a mammalogist. This could include certifications in wildlife biology, GIS (Geographic Information Systems), or specialized techniques relevant to your field of interest.

Organizations and Associations
There are several organizations and associations dedicated to the field of mammalogy. These organizations provide resources, networking opportunities, and support for professionals and enthusiasts interested in the study of mammals. Here are some notable ones:

  • American Society of Mammalogists (ASM): The ASM is one of the primary professional organizations for mammalogists in North America. It promotes the study of mammals through research, education, and conservation efforts.
  • Society for Marine Mammalogy (SMM): The SMM is dedicated to the study and conservation of marine mammals worldwide. It brings together scientists, educators, and policymakers to advance the understanding and protection of marine mammal species.
  • The Wildlife Society (TWS): TWS is a professional organization that encompasses various fields of wildlife biology, including mammalogy. It offers networking opportunities, publications, and professional development resources for wildlife professionals.
  • Ecological Society of America (ESA): The ESA is a broad organization that covers various aspects of ecology, including mammalogy. It hosts conferences, publishes journals, and advocates for ecological research and conservation.

There are several certifications and training programs that can enhance your skills and credibility in the field. Here are some options to consider:

  • Wildlife Biologist Certification: The Wildlife Society offers certification programs for wildlife biologists, including the Certified Wildlife Biologist (CWB) and Associate Wildlife Biologist (AWB) designations. While not specific to mammalogy, these certifications demonstrate your expertise in wildlife biology and can be valuable for career advancement.
  • GIS (Geographic Information Systems) Certification: Geographic Information Systems are commonly used in mammalogy for mapping habitat distributions, tracking animal movements, and conducting spatial analyses. Consider earning a certification in GIS to enhance your technical skills and make yourself more competitive in the job market.
  • Wilderness First Aid Certification: Mammalogists often work in remote or rugged environments where access to medical care may be limited. Obtaining certification in wilderness first aid can be valuable for fieldwork safety and may be required by employers or research organizations.
  • Animal Handling and Capture Training: If you plan to work with live mammals in research or conservation projects, consider completing training programs in animal handling, capture techniques, and chemical immobilization. These skills are essential for conducting field studies and ensuring the safety of both researchers and animals.