Professional Development

Professional Development

Certification Program

Professional Certification, as a Certified Wildlife Biologist or Associate Wildlife Biologist, is a way to demonstrate that your education and training meets standards set by your society and your peers. It’s a program managed by the National or “parent” society, not specifically the Western Section, but we fully cooperate and support the society and our members in this aim. Certification is also recognized by potential employers, graduate school advisors, agency directors and others. We offer Certification Workshops on occasion to help you through the application. It’s not an easy process, but it’s worth it, so enter if you dare…

The Wildlife Society, a nonprofit, scientific and educational organization devoted to stewardship and enlightened appreciation of wildlife and its environments, is committed to the premise that these objectives can be achieved best with the guidance of well-educated, experienced, and dedicated wildlife biologists. The Wildlife Society has sought to promote and strengthen professional standards in all activities devoted to wildlife resources. To this end, the Society has developed a professional certification program designed to evaluate the education and professional experience of wildlife biologists.
A professional wildlife biologist is a person with demonstrated expertise in the art and science of applying the principles of ecology to the sound stewardship and management of the wildlife resource and its environment. An applicant for professional certification who demonstrates this expertise through education and experience and is judged to be able to represent the profession as an ethical practitioner will be designated as a Certified Wildlife Biologist.
Present-day professional wildlife biologists have developed from many disciplines. Strict application of precisely defined certification criteria would be detrimental to the continued development of the profession these biologists have built.
These requirements for certification are intended to be a means of demonstrating the special expertise required to practice as a professional wildlife biologist. If an applicant does not meet the “specified” minimum requirements, a Certification Review Board (CRB), composed of highly qualified wildlife biologists, must determine whether the education, experience, and professional contributions of the applicant satisfy the intent of the established minimum requirements.
The program for certification of wildlife biologists is a service provided by The Wildlife Society for its members, as well as nonmembers and the public, who may desire a peer evaluation statement. Certification constitutes recognition by The Wildlife Society that, to its best knowledge, an applicant meets the minimum educational, experience, and ethical standards adopted by the Society for professional wildlife biologists. Certification does not constitute a guarantee that the applicant meets a certain standard of competence or possesses certain knowledge.
The Wildlife Society has established the objectives, rules, and procedures for certification and the administration of the program. The Society will maintain, annually update, and disseminate a registry of Certified Wildlife Biologists. An appropriate schedule of fees ensures that the program is financially self-sustaining. Certification applications are available from The Wildlife Society.


Professional Development Program and Certification Renewal

Overview and Goals
Advancements in technology, changes in public awareness and expectations, and increased pressures on wildlife habitats and populations require wildlife professionals continually to improve their knowledge and skills to remain effective. The Wildlife Society’s Professional Development Program was developed to recognize individuals who commit themselves to life-long learning and enhanced professionalism. The program also is used to renew certification of Certified Wildlife Biologists.
The Professional Development Program is open to all wildlife professionals. Upon successful completion of the program, as evidenced by an approved Application and Personal Activity Record, The Wildlife Society will issue a Professional Development Certificate and/or certification renewal. Success of the Program depends upon individual integrity and widespread participation. Program goals are to:

  • Maintain and advance the high technical and social skills needed by today’s wildlife professionals
  • Integrate new knowledge, concepts, and techniques into the practice of wildlife management
  • Recognize, through issuance of a Professional Development Certificate or Certification Renewal, those individuals who demonstrate a commitment to excellence through continued learning and professional development.

To obtain a Professional Development Certificate, applicant must:

  • Complete a minimum of 150 Contact Hours of professional development during a 5-year period. Participants may complete the Program in less time.
  • Distribute Contact Hours within up to 5 accepted categories of activities.

To obtain Certification Renewal, applicant must:

  • Complete a minimum of 80 contact hours in Category I during a 5-year period (applicants are encouraged to complete the 150 hours Professional Development Program and receive the Professional Development Certificate).

Applicants for either Certification Renewal or Professional Development Certificate, must also:

  • Maintain a Personal Activity Record of participation in Professional Development activities.
  • Submit an Application for a Professional Development Certificate/ Certification Renewal, a completed Personal Activity Record, and an Application Fee in U.S. Funds (TWS members $25, non-members $40) to the Executive Director of The Wildlife Society.

When the Application and Personal Activity Record have been examined and approved, a Professional Development Certificate and/or Certification Renewal will be issued by The Wildlife Society. Records will be maintained by The Wildlife Society; however, applicants are advised to retain a personal copy of all records for their files.

For Further Information see the national website or contact the Executive Director, The Wildlife Society, 5410 Grosvenor Lane, Bethesda, Maryland 20814-2197; (301) 897-9770; FAX (301) 530-2471; e-mail: