Do You Want To be a Zoologist?

By: Raquel Eichelmann

Salary

  • Median income of $57,430 in 2010
  • The range of pay can be significant depending on the location and type of work.
  • Zoology work in metropolitan areas often pays over $100,000 annually.

Skills, Talents, and Experience

Zoology professionals combine a compassion for animals with expert clinical and scientific skills. Depending on individual talents, zoologists may serve as ecologists, laboratory technicians, microbiologists, biology teachers, veterinary specialists, cattle ranch managers and many other occupations. Of course, some do find work in the most obvious place – a zoo. Jobs in zoology are centered on animals and the environment. Interest in a zoology career is usually driven by a deep-seated love of animals and a desire to study and care for them. This is essential for a career that will usually involve hands-on or up-close interaction with the animal kingdom.

Education and training

To become a zoologist, you need to begin by earning a Bachelor of Science degree in zoology. Completing undergraduate coursework in wildlife biology, conservation biology, ecology, zoology, chemistry and mathematics is a great way to build an educational foundation for your career as a zoologist. Depending on where your career ambitions and interests lie, you will likely need a graduate degree in zoology or biology to become a zoologist. Depending on the requirements of the employer, a Master’s degree in zoology is typically sufficient for many applied research positions. To become a zoologist who works in research and university teaching positions a PhD in Zoology is needed. Zoologists must also complete education throughout their careers in order to keep their skills current stay up to date with advancements in the field.

Who can do this job

Zoologists observe animals in their natural habitats and in laboratories in order to study animal life. They must study the origin and development of animal species as well as their habitats and behaviours. Zoologists also study how animal traits are passed from one generation to the next.

Benefit

Zoologists work with animals in zoos, wildlife habitats and their natural environments. Some study animal genetics and diseases to improve the animals' life, while others research how species live to assist in securing proper recreation and conditions for them in enclosed living spaces. The work of a zoologist can be physically challenging, so those that enter this profession do so because they are passionate about their work.

Typical day


Obviously, the average day for a zoologist or wildlife biologist differs considerably depending upon whether or not they are in a lab or academia setting versus being in the field in a remote wilderness location engaged in research and collecting data. While in the field, zoologists and wildlife biologists may face tough working and living conditions, maybe exposed to harmful organisms and, on occasion, dangerous wild animals. This is clearly in stark contrast to their work in the lab.

Job duties

  • Monitoring wildlife health and creating recovery plans
  • Communicating with the public by conducting field trips to point out scientific, historic and natural features of a park
  • Setting up equipment to monitor and collect pollutants from sites, such as smoke stacks, manufacturing plants and mechanical equipment
  • Conducting experimental studies indoors and outdoors
  • Studying the origin, interrelationships, classification, life histories, diseases, development, genetics and distribution of organisms in basic research.