How to Become a Mammalogist

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Mammalogy is a branch of zoology that focuses on the study of a variety of mammals. Mammalogists are biological scientists that specialize in the study of many different species of mammals.


Hey, I'm Joshua T. Osborne

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What does a mammalogist do?

Mammalogists focus on the study and identify a wide variety of mammals including living and extinct species. They focus on the structure, function, ethology, taxonomy, and evolutionary history of many different types of mammals. They study the habitats of mammals and how different species interact with their environment. They also examine the interactions between mammals and humans. Some mammalogists study many topics on a particular species and others examine one aspect of many different species. Many mammalogists conduct a variety of research tasks on many different mammal specimens. Mammalogists usually conduct research alone, but sometimes they collaborate with many other biological scientists. Mammalogists often share their research findings with other professionals and organizations or publish them in scientific journals. Mammalogists often work for universities, zoos, museums, wildlife organizations, government agencies, and private research institutes.

What kind of training does a mammalogist need?

Mammalogists typically need a doctorate degree in zoology with concentration on mammalogy or other related degree. A master degree may be sufficient for some positions. Prospective mammalogists typically complete courses in zoology, etology, morphology, mammalogy, chemisty, cell biology, and research and statistics. Many aspiring mammalogists complete internships or volunteer experiences while pursuing their education to gain practical experience and establish valuable contacts. Many mammalogists that complete doctorate degrees complete a great deal of postdoctoral fieldwork. Many mammalogists join the American Society of Mammalogists to remain competitive in the field. Mammalogists often complete continuing education throughout their careers to keep their skills current and stay up to date with advancements in the field.

What are the prospects for a career as a mammalogist?

Employment of all mammalogists is expected to grow much faster than average for all professions, increasing 21% from 2008 to 2018 (1). The increase in biotechnological research and development will drive job growth.

Job prospects should be very good with some competition for research positions. Mammalogists with extensive experience will have the best job opportunities. Some job openings will result from the need to replace mammalogists that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do mammalogists make?

As of March 2010, the average annual salary for mammalogists is $46,000; average salaries for nationwide mammalogist jobs are 29% lower than average salaries for all nationwide job postings (2).

A career as a mammalogist is a great choice for people with a strong interest in mammalogy and the study and classification of a variety of mammal species. Mammalogists must have a solid understanding of the concepts and philosophies of mammalogy and many different research methods. Patience, detail orientation, critical thinking, and good problem solving skills are essential characteristics. Mammalogists must have good communication and the ability to work independently and as part of a team.

Joshua T Osborne

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