National Wildlife Refuge System

Student Employment Opportunities

Employment with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is an effective way for students to gain work experience, earn money, and establish a career in conservation and natural resources.  There are employment opportunities for students in high school through graduate school ranging from summer work to year-round internships that could lead to permanent positions.

Program Overviews

Youth Conservation Corps (YCC)

Credit: USFWS

Ages 15-18

The Youth Conservation Corps is a summer program for young men and women between the ages of 15 and 18 years old.  Participants in YCC are members of a crew comprised of other high school students who work on a local wildlife refuge. Typical jobs include trail work, invasive species removal, and general facility maintenance.  Students typically work 40 hours per week and earn minimum wage.  The Youth Conservation Corps is an excellent way for young people to gain exposure to careers in conservation while making new friends and earning money.

Pathways Programs

The Pathways Programs provide students from high school through graduate level with opportunities to work in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), while still in school and getting paid. Students who successfully complete the program may be eligible for conversion to a permanent job in the USFWS or other federal agencies.

USAJOBS information for students and interns

Internship Program

The Internship Program is for current students, replacing the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) and Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP). The new Internship Program provides students in high schools, colleges, trade schools and other qualifying educational institutions with paid opportunities to work in agencies and explore Federal careers while completing their education. To find an Internship go here. Enter DOI or USFWS in the advanced search engine.

Recent Graduates Program

Credit: Rodney Breeding, USFWS

The Recent Graduates Program provides developmental experiences in the Federal Government. It is intended to promote possible careers in the civil service to individuals who, within the previous two years, graduated from qualifying educational institutions with an associate, bachelor, master, professional, doctorate, vocational or technical degree or certificate from qualifying educational institutions.

To be eligible, applicants must apply within the previous two years of degree or certificate completion except for veterans precluded from doing so due to their military service obligation, who will have up to six years after degree or certificate completion to apply. For more information about Federal employment information for veterans, go to OPM's Feds Hire Vets Web site.

Find Recent Graduate positions here. Enter  DOI or USFWS to find out what positions are available and how to apply.

Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program

For more than three decades, the PMF Program has been the Federal Government's premier leadership development program for advanced degree (e.g., masters or professional degree) candidates. Executive Order 13562 expands the eligibility window for applicants, making it more "student friendly" by aligning it with academic calendars and allowing those who have received a qualifying advanced degree within the preceding two years to participate. It also directs OPM to set eligibility requirements and minimum qualification standards, and to make the PMF experience more robust and substantive for participants.
To apply for a Presidential Management Fellows position click here.

Cooperative Programs

Credit: Lamar Gore, USFWS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has established cooperative programs with several partners to hire individuals interested in conservation related work.  Visit the Student Conservation Association and the Corps Network.

Instructions for Applying

People who work for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are forward-thinking, motivated, and resourceful.  Finding a position will require a little research and persistence.  Imagine that finding and applying for a position is your first assignment.  You will have to: 

  1. Read about the various programs and employment opportunities for students.
  1. Select the program best suited for you.   
  1. Decide where, you want to work.  While YCC students typically work at a refuge within commuting distance from their homes, other programs offer on-site housing and more flexibility.  Perhaps you currently live inland, but you would like to work at a coastal refuge to gain experience with shorebirds.  Maybe you want to travel to a refuge in New Mexico to learn about desert ecosystems.  The choice is yours.
  1. Use the refuge locator to find a refuge in the geographic area of your choice.
  1. Contact the refuge manager and inquire about the position you are seeking.  While you may not find the right opportunity on the first try, it helps to be persistent and flexible.  Remember that volunteering is also a great way to gain experience and open the door to other opportunities.


Careers and Employment

Volunteer Opportunities

Frequently Asked Questions

Youth in Natural Resources Main Page

Last updated: April 17, 2018