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Information iconVisitor services specialists. Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge in Texas. (Photo: USFWS)

A career with us might be just what you’re looking for if you’re passionate about science, water quality, nature, air quality, fish, birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, native plants or education.

No surprises there.

It also might be the ticket if you’re into law enforcement, information technology, maintenance, real estate, engineering, cartography, finance and budgeting.

The range of work U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees do at national wildlife refuges — or in support of them — is extraordinary. It can be extraordinarily rewarding, too. This page introduces you to a few of our people and their work. It also provides practical information about how to find a job like theirs for yourself.

Six Jobs You Might Love

Visitor Services Specialist

Jessica Jia has been a visitor services specialist at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge in Texas since 2018. For more than half a decade before that, she was a full-time student who squeezed several U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service internships into her education. Her job is sometimes called refuge ranger or, formally, park ranger.

Jessica Jia field Texas Woodland Wildlife Expo

What she loves about the job:
“The fact that I am encouraged to learn and grow, and I have the opportunity to be creative.”

What’s most interesting and rewarding about it:
“The variety of work — from trail trimming to website management to partner programs. It’s never the same job each week. And I find it rewarding to help people feel welcome and cared for.” 

What’s most challenging about it:
“Deciding how to best spend my energy can be a big challenge. There are many plates spinning at all times.”
 

Skills you must have to succeed at it:
You need adaptability, kindness and a persevering optimism.”

Animal she identifies with:
“Labrador retriever. Specifically a black lab — you know, the kind of dog that’s running outside at full speed until it’s passed out in a sunny patch on the ground. Everyone is my new best friend, snacks are my passion, and car windows were made for rolling down.”



To find available refuge ranger or visitor services specialist jobs, go to
USAJobs.gov. Search “0025” and/or “park ranger.” Filter by “U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service” or “Department of the Interior.” The job generally requires a bachelor's degree, including major study or significant coursework in natural resources, history, public administration, the social sciences or a range of other relevant fields. Details about education and experience requirements.

Maintenance Worker

Joe Alvarez, an engineering equipment operator, has been a maintenance worker at San Andres National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico since 2019. For 11 years before that he worked at the International Boundary and Water Commission.

Jose Alvarez

What he loves about the job:
“The support I get from my fellow wage-grade workers assigned to other national wildlife refuges.”

What’s most interesting and rewarding about it:
“Seeing all the wildlife and beauty of the refuge and knowing that I have a huge role in maintaining it for future generations. All the road work, repairs to water catchments and drinkers, erosion control, etc., is done not only for Fish and Wildlife Service purposes but also for biologists or botanists from other agencies wanting to do studies on the refuge. All of that makes me feel really good.” 

What’s most challenging about it:
“Getting used to the agency’s different policies and requirements.”

Skills you must have to succeed at it:
“Problem-solving. A lot of the time you have to come up with a solution on your own. Second would be confidence in your ability to handle any situation when working with heavy equipment or in general maintenance. Third would be willingness to work with others as a team.” 

Animal he identifies with:
“Grizzly bear. Because I don't mind being by myself, and I am a huge fan of wild game meat.”


To find available refuge maintenance-related jobs, go to
USAJobs.gov. Search “WG-3502,” “WG-4749,” “WG-5716,” “laborer,” “maintenance,” “maintenance mechanic” and/or “engineering equipment operator.” Filter by “U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service” or “Department of the Interior.” Standards and experience requirements vary with specific positions. Details about job standards.

Information Technology Specialist

Darika Cease has supervised the information resources and technology management service desk at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service headquarters in Falls Church, Virginia, since 2018. She has been with the agency since 2006.

Darika Cease

What she loves about the job:
“Every day, I'm engaging with customers who sprinkle a little knowledge and joy into my life. We definitely have some outgoing and hilarious people working for us, and their stories bring me so much joy.”

What’s most interesting and rewarding about it:
There’s never a dull moment. Anything that could go wrong or right in IT just may. Keeps you on your toes. The most rewarding part is knowing that I keep hard-working people in the field working. The mission cannot be achieved without the behind-the-scenes contributions of IT.”

What’s most challenging about it:
“New apps and services are created every day. There's this crunch time to figure out how they work, what they do, etc., before customers find out about them and start asking questions.”

Skills you must have to succeed at it:
“Great customer service skills first and foremost. You also have to be willing and able to adapt at any moment to change.”

Animal she identifies with:
“Tiger. I think I have some of the primal instincts and confidence of a tiger. I'm also super passionate and full of energy. These traits help me to evolve to the ever-changing environment of IT.” 

To find available IT-related jobs, go to
USAJobs.gov. Search “2210” and/or “information technology.” Filter by “U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service” or “Department of the Interior.” The job requires specialized IT-related experience. Details about experience and education requirements.

Wildlife Biologist

Stephanie Koch is a supervisory wildlife biologist at the Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Previously, she was a wildlife biologist at other New England refuges. She has been with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service since 1995.

Stephanie Koch near Monomoy Refuge

What she loves about the job:
“It immerses me in the natural world — across large intact tracts of hardwood forest, to the edges of vernal pools, through winding rivers, and to barrier beaches and saltmarshes of the coast. I feel privileged to work in beautiful landscapes, studying and conserving fascinating plants and animals. What’s not to love?”

What’s most interesting and rewarding about it:
“One of my goals is to learn something new every day. I’ve been true to that goal for more than 20 years. Some days my ‘something new’ is boring, like successfully navigating a new administrative task. But with the incredible diversity across our refuges, I usually don’t have to look far for a new tidbit of biological wisdom. Working with other biologists, schools and conservation partners is rewarding. It encourages me to think bigger and broader.”

What’s most challenging about it:
“Prioritizing my work and accepting that I just can’t do it all. It’s tough to admit that. Continually revisiting priorities is important. It requires flexibility and open-mindedness.” 

Skills you must have to succeed at it:
“A persistent can-do attitude and a willingness to change course or viewpoint. Basic knowledge of statistics and GIS helps.” 

Animal she identifies with:
“Humpback whale. Whales make long-distance ocean migrations through magical and mysterious places. I love to travel, wander and explore.” 


To find available wildlife biologist jobs, go to
USAJobs.gov. Search “0486,” “wildlife biologist,” “0401,” “natural resources management” and/or “biological sciences.” Filter by “U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service” or “Department of the Interior.” The job requires a bachelor’s degree in biological science with specialized study related to wildlife biology, animal ecology, zoology, botany and a range of other relevant fields. Details about education and experience requirements.

Federal Wildlife Officer

Bruce Butler is a zone supervisor overseeing law enforcement at national wildlife refuges in north Florida and Georgia. Before that he was a zone officer and field officer in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He has been with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service since 2004.

Bruce Butler

What he loves about the job:
“I have the opportunity to go places for work that many others pay to visit on vacation or recreation. I help to provide a safe place for refuge staff, visitors and wildlife.”

What’s most interesting and rewarding about it:
“No two encounters are the same. We have to be ready at a moment’s notice to respond anywhere in the country to perform law enforcement functions. Most rewarding is when a visitor tells me about a successful hunt, fishing trip or seeing a wildlife species. It really warms my heart, especially when a young person is experiencing it for the first time.”
  
What’s most challenging about it:
“At times, you are working alone in remote areas with little backup. You have to constantly think about doing your job safely.”

Skills you must have to succeed at it:
“The ability to work independently and quickly adapt to various situations. Last summer I was at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge on the Texas/Mexico border, apprehending individuals attempting to enter the U.S. illegally. Two weeks later, I was in Washington, DC, for the Independence Day Celebration, standing shoulder to shoulder with U.S. Park Police officers in front of protesters.”    

Animal he identifies with:
"Wolf."


To find available federal wildlife officer jobs and education requirements, go to the
Refuge Law Enforcement career information page. Or search “GL 1801” and/or “GS 1801” at USAJobs.gov; filter by “U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service” or “Department of the Interior.”

Refuge Manager

Jennifer Owen-White is the first manager at New Mexico’s Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge, which was established in 2012. Before that, she was refuge manager and visitor service manager at refuges in South Texas. She has worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service since 2010.

Jennifer Owen-White field with neighbors of ValleDeOro Refuge

What she loves about the job:
“Our staff, volunteers and interns are some of the most dedicated, creative and passionate people I have ever known. Our 100+ partner organizations are incredible. Our amazing community members are the backbone of the refuge and the guiding force behind our work and ultimately our success.”

What’s most interesting and rewarding about it:
This eight-minute TED Talk that White gave in 2015 in Albuquerque says it all.

What’s most challenging about it:
“There are so many opportunities to make a difference and only so many hours in a week. I know I need to find balance. I have a responsibility to set the tone and model for my staff and partners the importance of being a well-rounded healthy person working toward work-life balance.” 

Skills you must have to succeed at it:
“Humility. A willingness to really listen. And perseverance.”  

Animal she identifies with:
“Texas horned lizard or New Mexico whiptail lizard. They represent my two homes, and they adapt. They can be timid when need be and camouflage. Or they can be bold and stand up and fight. They are resilient. They can have a loss — like losing a tail to a potential predator — and will keep on going and grow a new tail.” 


To find available refuge manager jobs, go to
USAJobs.gov. Search “0485” and/or “wildlife management.” Filter by “U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service” or “Department of the Interior.” The job requires a bachelor’s degree in biological science and specialized study related to wildlife biology, animal ecology, zoology, botany and a range of other relevant fields. Details about education and experience requirements.
Information iconFederal wildlife officer. Vieques National Wildlife Refuge in Puerto Rico. (Photo: Raul Sanchez/USFWS)