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Harold Scoggins

My Advice to Anyone Wanting to Pursue a Fisheries Career Path

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I graduated PSU with a Fisheries Science degree. I worked for the Wyoming Game & Fish, Pennsylvania Fish and Game, and a private environmental consulting company working with coal and gas companies. Government agencies have good benefits, but there's no money in any of it. So if you think you'll pay off $100,000 in student loans doing it, goddddd blesssss you. Masters is also the norm now so chalk that up to $140,000 debt. Basically be happy with being broke and struggling doing something you enjoy. Otherwise change your path. 

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On 4/3/2019 at 10:21 PM, RobbyZ5001 said:

I graduated PSU with a Fisheries Science degree. I worked for the Wyoming Game & Fish, Pennsylvania Fish and Game, and a private environmental consulting company working with coal and gas companies. Government agencies have good benefits, but there's no money in any of it. So if you think you'll pay off $100,000 in student loans doing it, goddddd blesssss you. Masters is also the norm now so chalk that up to $140,000 debt. Basically be happy with being broke and struggling doing something you enjoy. Otherwise change your path. 

Harsh truth. Luckily my college was free but I indeed stay broke 

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My friend works for the USDA and I was quite surprised when he told me how little he makes. 

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Money isn't everything.  I switched from a process engineering job at a top 5 bank to become an elementary school teacher and have zero regrets.  Do i miss the money, absolutely because I took a substantial pay cut in the process but it has all been worth it.  

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17 minutes ago, flyfisher said:

Money isn't everything.  I switched from a process engineering job at a top 5 bank to become an elementary school teacher and have zero regrets.  Do i miss the money, absolutely because I took a substantial pay cut in the process but it has all been worth it.  

I agree 100%

 

Fisheries was fun most of the time. Unless it's Dec-Feb sloshing around in snow and streams for 10 hours a day, or getting rained on all day when its 40 degrees out. Some great times, and I def miss it some days. 

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15 hours ago, RobbyZ5001 said:

Fisheries was fun most of the time. Unless it's Dec-Feb sloshing around in snow and streams for 10 hours a day, or getting rained on all day when its 40 degrees out. Some great times, and I def miss it some days. 

Every once in a blue moon I debate about trying to use the degree,  but financial security is something I won't leave.

 

I have found if you reach out to local state parks or conservation officers they do look for volunteers for time to time for help with projects.  I helped with some wood duck banding a few years ago and then a fish structure project before the WCO I knew well retired. 

 

They just did a trap net survey on a local lake that I would have loved to taken part in.

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16 hours ago, flyfisher said:

Money isn't everything.  I switched from a process engineering job at a top 5 bank to become an elementary school teacher and have zero regrets.  Do i miss the money, absolutely because I took a substantial pay cut in the process but it has all been worth it.  

I agree completely money isn’t everything. I too took a pay cut to go where I am now for two reasons. 1: I’m home more to actually watch my son grow and 2: the ability to climb the ladder quicker. I’m a lot happier now, than I have been in over 12 years in my profession. 

 

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6 hours ago, WVU-SCPA said:

Every once in a blue moon I debate about trying to use the degree,  but financial security is something I won't leave.

 

I have found if you reach out to local state parks or conservation officers they do look for volunteers for time to time for help with projects.  I helped with some wood duck banding a few years ago and then a fish structure project before the WCO I knew well retired. 

 

They just did a trap net survey on a local lake that I would have loved to taken part in.

Yeh, I may look into that. Chances are they wouldn't let volunteers do more of the fun stuff though like electrofishing ect. 

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It can also depend on what locality you live/work in.  A government salary goes nowhere in the Bay Area but in many parts of the country, it goes pretty far.  I used to be an intern for the Minnesota DNR (Department of Natural Resources) and all of the full time employees that worked there did just fine with their salaries.  Was it a six figure salary?  No.  But it was good for the area they lived in.  Most federal employees in the Washington DC area make a pretty reasonable amount but the cost of living there is pretty outrageous.  The other item that may offset some of the lesser income is the job security.  Its almost bullet proof, even when the economy turns south.

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I have a friend who is a Ranger in a state park and he does not make much from what he and his wife told me. He does it since he has a passion for the Outdoors. I personally will not work for so little and will stick to my profession but I am glad people like him exist to protect our natural resources. We also need Fisheries Biologist and hope they get paid better wages as time passes.

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