The Ultimate Guide to Jobs Working with Bears!

Working with Bears

If you are one of the hundreds of thousands of children or learners who want to work with animals one day, then you might also be aware that career guidance on this subject is extremely limited. And this is a global phenomenon that even the United Nations is trying to address. The internet doesn’t always help either. Search engines such as Google, where a search for “different jobs in working with bears,” give you almost nothing of value to help you plan your career path.

So, how do you find out about all of the various careers that you can choose from?

Well, One Zoo Tree is compiling the world’s first fully digital career guidance system for those who want to work with animals. And to show you what can be found when looking into specific careers, here is The Ultimate Guide to Jobs Working with Bears!

Bear Facts


Bears are large mammals belonging to the family Ursidae. They are characterized by their robust build, stocky bodies, and plantigrade posture, walking on the soles of their feet with both heel and sole touching the ground.

Types of Bears:

Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis): Distinguished by a hump on their shoulders, grizzlies are found in North America, including parts of Alaska and Canada.

Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus): Adapted to Arctic environments, polar bears are excellent swimmers and primarily inhabit sea ice and surrounding waters.

American Black Bear (Ursus americanus): The most common bear species in North America, black bears vary in colour from black to brown and can be found in a wide range of habitats.

Asian Black Bear (Ursus thibetanus): Native to Asia, these bears have a distinct V-shaped marking on their chest and are found in various forested habitats.

Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca): Native to China, giant pandas are recognized by their distinctive black and white fur and primarily consume bamboo.

Appearance and Anatomy

Size and Weight: Bears vary in size, with the smallest being the sun bear (Malayan sun bear), weighing around 60–150 pounds, and the largest being the Kodiak bear, which can weigh over 1,500 pounds.

Fur: Bear fur color ranges from black, brown, and cinnamon to white in polar bears. Fur is dense and often includes an insulating underlayer.

Claws and Paws: Bears have strong, non-retractable claws adapted for digging, climbing, and catching prey. Their large, powerful paws contribute to their ability to walk long distances.

Facial Features: Bears typically have a large head, a short neck, and a snout. Their sense of smell is highly developed, making it a crucial tool for locating food.

Habitat and Distribution

Bears are adaptable and can inhabit a variety of environments, including forests, tundra, mountains, and swamps. They often establish home ranges that provide access to food, water, and suitable shelter.

Bears are found on four continents: North America, Europe, Asia, and South America. Different species have specific ranges, with some adapted to colder climates and others to more temperate regions.


Bears are omnivores, with diets varying based on species and habitat. They consume vegetation, fruits, insects, fish, and, in some cases, small mammals.

Many bears hibernate during the winter months to conserve energy when food is scarce. During this period, their heart rate and metabolism decrease significantly.

Bears are generally solitary animals, with the exception of mothers with cubs. Some species, like polar bears, may exhibit more social behaviour, especially during mating season or when congregating near food sources.

Bears communicate using vocalizations, body language, and scent marking. Roaring, growling, and woofing are common vocalizations, while standing on hind legs can be a display of dominance or curiosity.

Threats and Conservation

Encroachment of human settlements into bear habitats can lead to conflicts. Bears may raid crops, leading to retaliation from farmers, and encounters in residential areas can pose risks to both humans and bears.

Deforestation, urbanisation, and climate change contribute to the loss of bear habitats, forcing them into closer proximity with human activities.

Bears face threats from illegal poaching for their body parts, such as gallbladders and paws, which are sought after in traditional medicine and the illegal wildlife trade.

Changes in climate can affect the availability of food sources for bears, particularly those dependent on specific climates or ice-covered environments.

You can learn more bear basic facts by visiting our free short courses:

All our beginner-to-advanced-level courses are open to visitors and do not require you to sign in or be a member

Bear Facts and Taxonomy Course
Polar Bear Facts and Taxonomy Course

Working with Bears

Bears, majestic creatures that roam the wild, have captured the imagination of humans for centuries. Working with bears offers a unique opportunity to connect with nature while contributing to conservation efforts and scientific research. This article explores the fascinating world of bear-related careers, shedding light on the pros and cons of such professions and outlining the top five careers that involve these incredible creatures.

  • Wildlife Biologist: A Wildlife Biologist observes and studies terrestrial animals and plants found on land, in the air, and in freshwater, with a focus on fieldwork, academic research, laboratory work, consulting, charity, outreach, or policymaking.
  • Veterinarian: Veterinarians who specialise in wildlife medicine can work with bears in zoos, wildlife rehabilitation centres, and research institutions. They are responsible for providing medical care to bears and other animals, including preventive care, diagnosis and treatment of illnesses, and emergency care.
  • Zookeeper: Zookeepers who work with bears are responsible for their daily care, including feeding, cleaning, and providing enrichment activities. They also monitor the animals’ health and behaviour and work closely with veterinarians to ensure the animals are healthy and thriving.
  • Wildlife Photographer: Wildlife photographers and videographers who specialise in bears can help raise awareness about these unique animals and the threats they face. They may work independently or for media outlets and travel to remote locations to capture footage of bears in the wild.
  • Field Guide: Field guides work with tourists to provide educational and informative experiences related to wildlife and nature. Bears are a popular attraction for ecotourists, and guides who specialise in bears can lead tours to observe these animals in their natural habitats while educating visitors about their importance to the ecosystem and conservation efforts.
  • Wildlife Educator: Also called conservation educators, they design and deliver educational programmes on bear safety, conservation, and ecology.
  • Online Publication Editor: Online publication editors are specialists who plan, manage, and produce online (digital) magazines for readers on various topics, such as bear conservation or facts.

These are just a few examples of potential careers working with bears around the world. Other career paths may include research assistants, field technicians, and wildlife rehabilitators. Whatever career path one chooses, working with bears can be a fulfilling and important way to contribute to conservation efforts and protect these unique animals for generations to come.

There are actually 12 different career categories in OZT, of which most will allow you to work with bears. Some only require observation of the animal to replicate them in some way, such as in art, design, media, photography, and publication. Other categories require physical interaction, such as careers in animal care, health, protection, and conservation.

Have a look at all of the

Different Categories

Skills, Knowledge And Equipment

Skills and Knowledge required to work with Bears

Working with bears requires a combination of specialised skills, education, and practical knowledge to ensure the safety of both the professionals and the bears. Whether pursuing a career in research, conservation, rehabilitation, or education, individuals working with bears should possess the following skills and knowledge:



Observation Skills: Ability to keenly observe bear behaviour in various environments and contexts.

Communication Skills: Effective communication is crucial for conveying information to the public, fellow professionals, or when engaging in educational outreach programmes.

Physical Fitness: Many roles involve working in challenging outdoor environments, requiring physical endurance and the ability to navigate difficult terrain.

Problem-Solving: Critical thinking and problem-solving skills are essential, especially in situations where immediate decisions may be required to ensure safety.

Wilderness Survival Skills: Proficiency in wilderness survival skills is crucial for those working in remote areas, where access to resources may be limited.

Animal Handling: For roles involving direct interaction with bears, proficiency in safe and ethical animal handling techniques is essential.

Conflict Resolution: Skills to manage human-bear conflicts and mitigate potential risks through non-lethal means.

Teamwork: Many bear-related projects involve collaboration with interdisciplinary teams. The ability to work effectively with others is vital.

Adaptability: Given the unpredictability of working with wild animals, individuals must be adaptable and able to respond to changing circumstances.

Patience and calmness: Working with bears requires a calm demeanour and patience, especially during stressful or high-risk situations.


Biology and Ecology: In-depth understanding of bear biology, ecology, and physiology to inform conservation strategies and effectively work with the species.

Wildlife Management: Knowledge of wildlife management principles, including population dynamics, habitat conservation, and ecosystem interactions.

Ethology (Animal Behaviour): Understanding animal behaviour is crucial for interpreting bear actions and reactions and identifying signs of stress or discomfort.

Conservation Science: Knowledge of conservation principles and practices, including the ability to contribute to conservation initiatives and habitat preservation.

Environmental Science: Understanding the broader environmental factors affecting bear habitats, including climate change, deforestation, and pollution.

Research Techniques: Proficiency in research methodologies, including data collection, statistical analysis, and interpretation of findings.

Legal and Ethical Considerations: Awareness of local and international laws governing wildlife protection and ethical considerations in working with wild animals.

First Aid and Emergency Response: Basic knowledge of first aid and emergency response protocols, especially in the context of working in remote areas.

Public Outreach and Education: Familiarity with effective methods of public outreach and education to promote awareness and understanding of bears and their conservation.

Risk Assessment: The ability to assess potential risks associated with specific activities and develop strategies to minimise them.

Tools or Equipment used in working with Bears

Working with bears often requires a range of specialised tools and equipment to ensure the safety of both humans and the bears involved. The specific tools used can vary depending on the nature of the work, whether it involves research, conservation, rehabilitation, or education. Here are some common tools and equipment used in different aspects of working with bears:

  • GPS collars Used to track the movements and behaviour of bears in the wild, providing valuable data for research on habitat use and population dynamics.
  • Telemetry Equipment: Radio transmitters and receivers for tracking bears in real-time, particularly in studies focusing on home range and migration patterns.
  • Tranquillizer Guns/Darting Equipment: Essential for safely immobilising bears for research purposes, veterinary procedures, or relocation efforts.
  • Camera Traps: Deployed in the field to capture images and videos of bears, helping researchers monitor behaviour, population size, and distribution.
  • Remote Sensing Technology: Satellite imagery and aerial surveys aid in habitat mapping, monitoring vegetation changes, and assessing overall ecosystem health.
  • Enclosures: Enclosures are designed to simulate natural conditions for controlled studies, providing researchers with a controlled environment for experiments.
  • Bear-Resistant Containers: Used to store food and waste securely, preventing bears from accessing human-related food sources and reducing human-bear conflicts.
  • Electric Fencing: Deployed in bear habitats or around campsites to create a deterrent barrier, preventing bears from entering human-occupied areas.
  • Non-Lethal Deterrents: Tools such as bear spray, noise makers, and rubber bullets deter bears from approaching human settlements without causing harm.
  • Wildlife Release Crates: specialised crates designed for transporting and releasing rehabilitated bears back into the wild.
  • Veterinary Equipment: Basic medical supplies, including anaesthesia, syringes, and diagnostic tools for health assessments and medical interventions.
  • Capture and Handling Equipment: Tools for safely capturing and restraining bears during relocation efforts or medical procedures, including snares, nets, and bear-resistant containers.

How can YOU prepare for a career working with Bears?

Here are a few important steps to remember on the path to securing a job where you can work with Bears:

  • Reflect on your values, interests, and strengths. These important characteristics can show you which categories of careers to look into
  • Research different careers. Don’t just settle on a career because it sounds good. Research as much as possible before you make a decision.
  • Explore your options. Look at what you would like to do after school. Do you want to study further or start your own business? Where do you want to study?
  • Seek guidance from trusted sources. Use trusted sites, such as OZT, and talk to people who know about career guidance or who have expertise in certain fields.
  • Make a decision and take action. Once you have a general idea, start looking at gaining experience handling animals. DON’T WAIT UNTIL AFTER COMPLETING SCHOOL!

The above steps can all be planned and completed while still in school!

These steps are explained in more detail in our free Short Course:

The WHAT NEXT Courses


One Zoo Tree is a FREE resource for children and students of all ages who want to work with animals. Our primary objective is to ensure that our members have ALL of the data available to ensure that they can make practical career choices. To achieve this, we have put together a career database (the leading database of its kind in the world) with over 500 comprehensive career profiles. We have also designed thousands of free short courses to help members prepare for a future career.

Use the site for in-depth career research, or join our online Community to interact with other members around the world as well as gain access to loads of extra career tools and information!


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