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NCSU or UNCP

Jawbone

Button Buck
This is a school question but since involves biology figured post it here. I started working on my undergraduate in Fisheries and Wildlife Science through Oregon State before I retired from the Army. Now that I am retired I want to finish out either NCSU or UNCP. I live much closer to UNCP and I have already been accepted to their program, however it’s not Fish and Wildlife biology it would be Biology with a track in environmental science.

If I went with NCSU my degree would definitely Fish and Wildlife conservation biology. However, I have not received my decision letter yet so it’s kind of if I get accepted. So, if I do get accepted and attend NCSU I would be commuting roughly 75 miles one way, not preferred but it’s not a decision breaker. We have a house in Fayetteville so relocating the family isn’t really an option.

If anyone has degrees from these schools in these programs any input would be greatly appreciated.

TIA, Dewayne


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woodmoose

Administrator
Staff member
Contributor
Thank you for your Service

I have a daughter that graduated from UNCP and one that graduated from NCSU - NCSU is a higher rated, higher quality education - though UNCP is OK

really depends on what you want to do with the degree afterwards

in my opinion, as a second career person, it is more about what YOU bring to the table then where you got your degree

most haven't even heard of the schools where I got my Bachelors (earned when I was 38) or Masters (when I was 54),,,but that hasn't held me back any because it's what I bring, not where I went to school
 

Jawbone

Button Buck
Thank you for your Service

I have a daughter that graduated from UNCP and one that graduated from NCSU - NCSU is a higher rated, higher quality education - though UNCP is OK

really depends on what you want to do with the degree afterwards

in my opinion, as a second career person, it is more about what YOU bring to the table then where you got your degree

most haven't even heard of the schools where I got my Bachelors (earned when I was 38) or Masters (when I was 54),,,but that hasn't held me back any because it's what I bring, not where I went to school
If agree with 100%. Every field I’ve looked into since I retired is more concerned with experience and what can you bring to the table and the degree comes second.

I don’t have it narrowed down completely but I do know that I had rather be doing field work than sitting behind a desk. Biologist usually spend a fair amount of time doing both and that’s ok as long as long as it equals out.


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took

Ten Pointer
Contributor
Great job in pursuing your goals!
Going back to school is hard when you add in family needs and balancing your time. That 150 mile round trip will cut into your family time, study time, etc. I would vote for the closer location. If you get into it and later decide it is not what you wanted, then transfer.
 

Justin

Old Mossy Horns
Just an FYI. I have a degree in Fish and Wildlife Management. If I had it to do all over again, I’d have went for forestry. Much broader array of things to get in to. Easy to make damn good money too. Fish and Wildlife Management is harder to find a job, let alone a good paying one. Public sectors pay crap in that field, and every Tom, Dick, and Harry with a Farmall Super A or 4 wheeler does their own “management”. It can be done, but I’d center in Fisheries rather than Wildlife if I were dead set on that degree.
I wish I had done forestry. I’m an arborist. If I had, I’d be making a lot more than I am right now, and I still make good money, and no longer beat myself up daily on the job.
 

Jawbone

Button Buck
Just an FYI. I have a degree in Fish and Wildlife Management. If I had it to do all over again, I’d have went for forestry. Much broader array of things to get in to. Easy to make damn good money too. Fish and Wildlife Management is harder to find a job, let alone a good paying one. Public sectors pay crap in that field, and every Tom, Dick, and Harry with a Farmall Super A or 4 wheeler does their own “management”. It can be done, but I’d center in Fisheries rather than Wildlife if I were dead set on that degree.
I wish I had done forestry. I’m an arborist. If I had, I’d be making a lot more than I am right now, and I still make good money, and no longer beat myself up daily on the job.
I’ve talked to a couple of other people who did that same thing. They switched from fish and wildlife to forestry. I’ve never looked into the job market for forestry but you’re right there are not a lot of jobs for Fish and wildlife, however, I am willing to relocate after I complete school. I’d be happy as fish or wildlife technician. Money is always good but I’m honestly going into it because it’s what I genuinely love to do.

If you don’t mind me asking what is the difference between a forester and an arborist? I get the general description I guess am asking to day to day operations.


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Justin

Old Mossy Horns
I’ve talked to a couple of other people who did that same thing. They switched from fish and wildlife to forestry. I’ve never looked into the job market for forestry but you’re right there are not a lot of jobs for Fish and wildlife, however, I am willing to relocate after I complete school. I’d be happy as fish or wildlife technician. Money is always good but I’m honestly going into it because it’s what I genuinely love to do.

If you don’t mind me asking what is the difference between a forester and an arborist? I get the general description I guess am asking to day to day operations.


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Forster manages a stand of trees. Arborist cares for trees on an individual level.
 

Part-time hunter

Ten Pointer
I attended both schools although it was still Pembroke State College back in 67 and I finished up at State in 75. I agree with the others that the degree wasn't that important in my career path. But yours seems to be pretty specific so it may come into play in your case. And I loved my time at NCSU. It is a very good and well respected university with a lot of benefits that a smaller school may not have. I would also like to thank you for your service and I wish you well whichever way you choose to go.
 

curdog

Ten Pointer
Contributor
I know it's not as close and convenient, but if you want to go the wildlife biologist route, a program accredited by the wildlife society will help you out a lot. I know with forestry programs a 4 year school that is accredited by the society of American Foresters would save a lot of headache down the road to become a registered forester. I did the forestry and a wildlife degree and did a couple of seasonal wildlife jobs and enjoyed them, but I was ready to get a full time job and quit moving around, so I'm working in the forestry side of things. The NCWRC required a 2 year degree and at least 2years of seasonal experience for a entry level technician position. I had about 1.5 years in doing seasonal jobs, but decided to switch it up. There are a lot more forestry jobs out there (private or public sector), but if you're willing to move around you could probably find what you're after..
Good luck with your decision, but as far as my free internet advice, I'd look at state. The connections in the field will be made a lot easier in an established accredited program than at other schools.
 

Jawbone

Button Buck
I know it's not as close and convenient, but if you want to go the wildlife biologist route, a program accredited by the wildlife society will help you out a lot. I know with forestry programs a 4 year school that is accredited by the society of American Foresters would save a lot of headache down the road to become a registered forester. I did the forestry and a wildlife degree and did a couple of seasonal wildlife jobs and enjoyed them, but I was ready to get a full time job and quit moving around, so I'm working in the forestry side of things. The NCWRC required a 2 year degree and at least 2years of seasonal experience for a entry level technician position. I had about 1.5 years in doing seasonal jobs, but decided to switch it up. There are a lot more forestry jobs out there (private or public sector), but if you're willing to move around you could probably find what you're after..
Good luck with your decision, but as far as my free internet advice, I'd look at state. The connections in the field will be made a lot easier in an established accredited program than at other schools.
State is my first option and I feel that’s the route I want to go. I have been doing volunteer work with the biologist on Fort Bragg for several years now to get some experience. I’m wanting to transfer to state for the reasons you mentioned. Building a network and getting to know people seems to go a long ways.


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WolfpackHunter

Six Pointer
however, I am willing to relocate after I complete school. I’d be happy as fish or wildlife technician. Money is always good but I’m honestly going into it because it’s what I genuinely love to do.
These couple sentences are the most important.

There are a bunch of good ol' boys with Fish and Wildlife degrees, but growing up on daddy's farm or the high school sweetheart sends them back to their hometown and unwilling to move. Add in the pay (which ain't much) and they are out of the career field before they even start. Not disparaging any of these things...it is just the reality. It is a small career field, any of the good jobs are State and Federal. I think everyone knows people die in these jobs, especially Federal. Not a lot of turnover.

If you are willing to move you will be fine. There are a LOT opportunities for people who are flexible. TAMU Wildlife Job Board will open your eyes to amount of work available. May take a year or two of bouncing around in tech jobs before you stick or have the experience to compete for job openings. It sounds like you will have some military retirement income which will make it a lot easier for you until you can move up and make a little more money.

Go to State. I'm biased obviously...but if Fish and Wildlife Management is what you want to do...then get the degree. A general biology degree will be harder to compete with all the other resumes which will be more specialized. My advice is to find a specific critter or habitat type you like to manage. Deer, quail, turkey, upland pines, rangeland, prairie, etc and get internships or research tech jobs that focus on that. Eventually you will find a permanent job dealing with that critter/habitat.
 

shotgunner

Ten Pointer
These couple sentences are the most important.

There are a bunch of good ol' boys with Fish and Wildlife degrees, but growing up on daddy's farm or the high school sweetheart sends them back to their hometown and unwilling to move. Add in the pay (which ain't much) and they are out of the career field before they even start. Not disparaging any of these things...it is just the reality. It is a small career field, any of the good jobs are State and Federal. I think everyone knows people die in these jobs, especially Federal. Not a lot of turnover.

If you are willing to move you will be fine. There are a LOT opportunities for people who are flexible. TAMU Wildlife Job Board will open your eyes to amount of work available. May take a year or two of bouncing around in tech jobs before you stick or have the experience to compete for job openings. It sounds like you will have some military retirement income which will make it a lot easier for you until you can move up and make a little more money.

Go to State. I'm biased obviously...but if Fish and Wildlife Management is what you want to do...then get the degree. A general biology degree will be harder to compete with all the other resumes which will be more specialized. My advice is to find a specific critter or habitat type you like to manage. Deer, quail, turkey, upland pines, rangeland, prairie, etc and get internships or research tech jobs that focus on that. Eventually you will find a permanent job dealing with that critter/habitat.
Great advice. Saw the same thing happen to guys with Education, Forestry and other degrees. But there are definitley more opportunities with some of those degrees. If your heart is on Fish and Wildlife Biology then that is what you should do. I have a Forestry degree with a minor in Environmental Science and I now teach high school. Pretty much enjoying going to work each day.
 

dc bigdaddy

Old Mossy Horns
Contributor
I don't have any experience from those schools or degrees, but I would choose what degree you want and go there and it sounds like that is NCSU.

Good luck with what ever direction you go.
 

Soilman

Old Mossy Horns
Contributor
I went to State for a degree in Agronomy, and now work as a soil scientist. I've had the opportunity to work with folks who graduated with a "soils degree" from smaller schools, and it was blatantly obvious that they did not receive the same quality of education that I did. The good thing about State is, they offer both top notch wildlife degrees as well as forestry. So, if you decided to switch over, you are already in line for the best school in the state for it.
 

DCdeerhunter

Four Pointer
If all you want is a technician position a two year degree will work but if you ever want to move up more than likely need a 4 year or masters.
 

darkthirty

Old Mossy Horns
I went back to school at 30 at the university of TN and got a wildlife and fisheries degree. I was fortunate that I was able to go full time with the fisheries Dept upon graduating. We moved here for my wife’s job so it wasn’t like I could move anyway. I see a lot of students and have instructed a lot of students and helped them get jobs.
Here’s my personal opinion after working directly with state and federal agencies and having those guys call me personally looking for good people about to graduate. I don’t think it matters where you go to school. What does matter is volunteering, interning and networking with as many professionals as possible while you’re in school. Now, with that, the caveat to schools will be you will most likely run a lot better chance to get volunteering and networking opportunities through N.C. State for no other reason than NCWRC would most likely be partnering/cooperating with any graduate research going on in wildlife and fisheries. And your best bet for volunteering will be with graduate students while they’re doing their field work. The volunteering opportunities I mentioned above will most likely at some point, allow you to cross paths with NCWRC biologists and officers, private land biologists, etc.... which will lead you to increased odds for internships which will help your odds with jobs upon graduation.
Not saying UNCP won’t give you opportunities, but I’d be willing to bet, UNCP will not give you the ability to choose from multiple opportunities like NCSU will. If you go to NCSU, get involved with the wildlife society. Go to meetings. Regardless of where you go, be seen, volunteer, find graduate students and ask to do the work.
 

Jawbone

Button Buck
These couple sentences are the most important.

There are a bunch of good ol' boys with Fish and Wildlife degrees, but growing up on daddy's farm or the high school sweetheart sends them back to their hometown and unwilling to move. Add in the pay (which ain't much) and they are out of the career field before they even start. Not disparaging any of these things...it is just the reality. It is a small career field, any of the good jobs are State and Federal. I think everyone knows people die in these jobs, especially Federal. Not a lot of turnover.

If you are willing to move you will be fine. There are a LOT opportunities for people who are flexible. TAMU Wildlife Job Board will open your eyes to amount of work available. May take a year or two of bouncing around in tech jobs before you stick or have the experience to compete for job openings. It sounds like you will have some military retirement income which will make it a lot easier for you until you can move up and make a little more money.

Go to State. I'm biased obviously...but if Fish and Wildlife Management is what you want to do...then get the degree. A general biology degree will be harder to compete with all the other resumes which will be more specialized. My advice is to find a specific critter or habitat type you like to manage. Deer, quail, turkey, upland pines, rangeland, prairie, etc and get internships or research tech jobs that focus on that. Eventually you will find a permanent job dealing with that critter/habitat.
Thanks for the info. I’m definitely willing to move so that’s not an issue. Being retired military I would like to get in the federal system and since I can claim veterans status that may help. The TAMU job board is great I check it almost daily for any entry level/volunteer positions I could apply for. I like working with deer, but I would be open to almost anything honestly, getting my foot in the door and gaining experience is kind of my goal for now.


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Soilman

Old Mossy Horns
Contributor
Thanks for the info. I’m definitely willing to move so that’s not an issue. Being retired military I would like to get in the federal system and since I can claim veterans status that may help. The TAMU job board is great I check it almost daily for any entry level/volunteer positions I could apply for. I like working with deer, but I would be open to almost anything honestly, getting my foot in the door and gaining experience is kind of my goal for now.


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....And, with a federal position, your military years also count towards your retirement.
 

darkthirty

Old Mossy Horns
Thanks for the info. I’m definitely willing to move so that’s not an issue. Being retired military I would like to get in the federal system and since I can claim veterans status that may help. The TAMU job board is great I check it almost daily for any entry level/volunteer positions I could apply for. I like working with deer, but I would be open to almost anything honestly, getting my foot in the door and gaining experience is kind of my goal for now.


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I know a couple of guys and one presently is looking for a job. They are all combat veterans and have applied for several positions. They all say veterans preference but rarely do they practice what they preach. And the downside to it is at least two of the guys have a valid case for not even getting interviews, both extremely well qualified and met every requirement, but they don’t want to say or do anything for fear of burning bridge or getting black balled. In the case of those two, both positions were filled internally, which is understandable and a common practice, but they never even made it to the interviews.
 

Wildlifer

Twelve Pointer
Most everything has been covered already. I have a fisheries wildlife and conservation biology degree and minor in plant biology from NCSU. I wouldn't trade my experiences in school however I am no longer in the field if that tells you anything. You have a leg up with the veterans status for state and fed jobs. If you want to be much more than a tractor driver look hard at the masters. It's not bad if you end up with a project you are interested in. As far as wildlife programs, NCSU is right up there with the best of them. If you have any specific questions feel free to PM me.
 
I'll second Wildlifer's recommendation to not stop with the BS. degree. I'm a retired Wildlife biologist and 1979 graduate of NCSU in wildlife biology. When I retired we had many Masters degree bios and several Phd folks. It's a competitive field in NC and the pay is not great but the pension is marvelous (in the top 2 nationwide). Pm me with questions if you like.
 

Jawbone

Button Buck
I know a couple of guys and one presently is looking for a job. They are all combat veterans and have applied for several positions. They all say veterans preference but rarely do they practice what they preach. And the downside to it is at least two of the guys have a valid case for not even getting interviews, both extremely well qualified and met every requirement, but they don’t want to say or do anything for fear of burning bridge or getting black balled. In the case of those two, both positions were filled internally, which is understandable and a common practice, but they never even made it to the interviews.
Depending on what there background is I could see that. If they are near the Fayetteville area that makes it hard too, a lot people get out with a lot the same qualifications. But... if the have an IT or intell background they shouldn’t have a problem.


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Jawbone

Button Buck
Most everything has been covered already. I have a fisheries wildlife and conservation biology degree and minor in plant biology from NCSU. I wouldn't trade my experiences in school however I am no longer in the field if that tells you anything. You have a leg up with the veterans status for state and fed jobs. If you want to be much more than a tractor driver look hard at the masters. It's not bad if you end up with a project you are interested in. As far as wildlife programs, NCSU is right up there with the best of them. If you have any specific questions feel free to PM me.
I’ve contemplated a MS like you mentioned. I think going the project route would be good. Then again if I could get an entry level position with an undergraduate I’d be happy. Honestly I’m not concerned with pay as I have my pension to compensate some. However, I wouldn’t turn down more money either lol.


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Jawbone

Button Buck
I'll second Wildlifer's recommendation to not stop with the BS. degree. I'm a retired Wildlife biologist and 1979 graduate of NCSU in wildlife biology. When I retired we had many Masters degree bios and several Phd folks. It's a competitive field in NC and the pay is not great but the pension is marvelous (in the top 2 nationwide). Pm me with questions if you like.
Thanks I’ll do that.


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boomer

Twelve Pointer
I graduate from Pembroke State University way back when with a Field Biology & Environmental Science Degree. Worked great for my career path but if I wanted to work in a fish and wildlife career ,I would suggest you go to NCSU.
 

DRS

Old Mossy Horns
Forster manages a stand of trees. Arborist cares for trees on an individual level.
I am another with a FWS BS from NCSU. I had a room mate that went back into forestry to find a job. I worked in the field for a few years, with time limited jobs. Finally had to get a job to make a living. I think if you wanted to pursue a masters NCSU would be a good choice. I think a BS degree in an environmental science would lead to a wider range of employment opportunities.
 

Ldsoldier

Old Mossy Horns
I just requested my tickets for the fall NCSU graduation. This is my 2nd Fisheries, Wildlife, & Conservation Biology degree from there (B.S., 2013; M.S., 2019). I’ll be starting a job with Wildlife Services in a few weeks. If all you want to do is be in the field then any old 2-year environmental science or general biology degree will get you a technician job as long as you're a good worker. They’ll start you as a temp and then bring you on full-time as a position becomes available. As a tech (at least for the state) you’ll start at $15/hr, and probably won’t ever get above $40K/yr. Its a lot of mowing boat ramps and farm type work, and occasionally you might get your hands on a critter. The good news is that other than fires it’s pretty much a 9-5. A lot of the depots have even gone to 4 10s, so they even have Fridays off.

If you want to go the biologist route you’ll need at least a bachelor's degree. We used to say you’d need a master's, but the last several district biologists the NCWRC has hired have not. They placed a higher value on time served in the organization and specific experience, in my recent experiences. This places the pursuit of a master's degree as a handicap if you’re pursuing that type of job in NC since it keeps you out of the NCWRC and in school for an extra 3 years.

For a species biologist job a masters is basically required, and our current deer biologist has a PhD. These are largely office-based jobs, and we had one excellent biologist leave in the last few years to work as a lineman for Duke Power because he felt he wasn’t getting outside enough. That said, as you get older and more stuff starts to break you might appreciate the office job a bit more. Getting these jobs is extremely difficult since there's usually only one of each per state. Deer biologists, in particular, are a dime-a-dozen.

Federal jobs are very difficult to get. If you think the state is a "good ole' boys club" you haven't seen anything like the feds. Your veteran's preference helps, but it's not the end-all-be-all. I found out the hard way that when you apply to a federal job they only refer the top 5 applicants according to whatever survey the hiring agency is using, which basically encourages everyone to lie on their survey. I seriously had an HR person from a federal agency straight up tell me to lie on the survey if I wanted an interview. I refused to do that so I ended up with a position that didn't go through USAJOBS. This is something that people I know in hiring positions in the federal government hate, but there's nothing they can do about it. From what I understand with the feds once you're in the club you're in. It's just difficult to get your foot in the door.

As has been said before the two keys to landing a job in this field are experience and networking. I know that I've landed jobs because of my references because my boss told me so very plainly. Professional wildlife is a small world. Don't doubt that someone knows someone else. It's not just your references that matter either. It's the colleague in the hiring person's office that says "Oh yeah, I know him. We worked together on such and such project in the Yukon in 2001..." I got to know a very prominent professor at Virginia Tech because I volunteered to go chopping through the pocosin with her looking for a bear collar one day. She knows my name and stops to talk with me every time she sees me now (usually at conferences). I have no doubt if I ever applied for a job in Virginia that she could easily be the make/break random commenter. You meet people through work, volunteering, and organizations. If you go to State be sure to not only get involved with the Leopold Wildlife Club, which is the student chapter of The Wildlife Society there but become an officer. It's not hard, most of the time getting people to run for office is like pulling teeth. Get in there and work your @$$ off, and you'll catch the eye of the professors, who can be powerful allies when it comes time for your job hunt. I started off as just a member, then became the Activities Coordinator, Chairman for the first Wild Foods Supper Committee, and finished off my undergrad career as president. While this earned me an award before I graduated, it more importantly exposed me to officers in the North Carolina Chapter of The Wildlife Society, which helped get my name out and helped me meet people. It also exposed me to friendships that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Experience is gained in several ways. Obviously through work, but you can also do undergrad research, volunteer, etc... Beware, the USFWS loves internships that pay $100/week plus housing, so beware of those. My undergrad research not only became my Master's project, but it allowed me to build a close relationship with the NCWRC and some of their biologists that has literally translated into jobs for me. I wouldn't trade those experiences for anything and hope I can get back into the WRC eventually.

I apologize for the book. I know I've gotten off-topic. As far as the original question NCSU is going to be the better school and program. There will be knowledge gaps going to UNCP, simply because they don't have the focused curriculum in the wildlife field. That said, if your goal is to be a field tech, district biologist, hunter safety coordinator (yes, that's an actual job), or a lower-level biologist then it won't really matter. If you already plan to go on to a Master's then it won't really matter either, since your MS program will catch you up on whatever you missed that you actually need. The biggest advantage with NCSU over UNCP is going to be TWS certification, which is difficult coming from a program that's not a dedicated wildlife program. The advantage is the broader degree opens you up to more possible career fields, where you could find yourself testing water quality, mapping/delineating wetlands, etc... If you go to State (Go Wolfpack!), I would recommend getting either a minor or a second major in forestry, environmental technology, GIS, English, etc... These skills complement the others and help fill gaps that most applicants have. If you're going the biologist route you better get real familiar with GIS and statistical software, particularly R since it's free. Embrace it, because it will open doors for you.

The one thing I love about the wildlife field is that because it's so competitive the riff-raff get weeded out pretty quickly. I truly love almost everybody I work with. Everybody is passionate about what they do and they love what they do, even if they hate certain aspects of it (cough, cough, politics, cough, cough...). Even the crappiest days in the field are awesome when you're with friends, and that's who your colleagues become. I hope you like dealing with people because you'll deal with far more people, especially the public, than you ever will with critters. You're on this page so dead critters obviously don't phase you.

Like I said, sorry about the book. You've got a lot of great advice before my $0.02, just figured I'd throw in another dime for free ;) Feel free to PM me with any questions or just ask on here. I don't check this every day anymore, but PMs go straight to my email, which is checked daily. Good luck!
 
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