How to Become a Zoologist

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Zoology is an important branch of biology that concentrates on the study of animals and their structure, behavior, and function. Zoologists are important trained professionals that study and care for animals and wildlife.


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What does a zoologist do?

Zoologists are biological scientists that focus their studies on animals and wildlife. They examine animal origin, life processes, behavior, conditions, and diseases. They often study animals and how they live and thrive in their natural surrounding as well as artificial and laboratory surroundings. They study the way animals interact with other animals, how they react to change in their habitat, and how they can adapt to new surroundings. Some zoologists are directly associated with creating adequate zoo environments for animals. They often spend time in an animal’s natural habitat to understand the conditions and observe daily behavior. Some zoologists provide direct care on animals in zoos and veterinary settings.

Many zoologists work in research and development. They carry out basic research to learn more about particular animals. Some experiment with live animals in natural or controlled environments and others examine and dissect dead animals. Zoologists also gather and investigate biological information to determine the effect on the environment caused by the current and future uses of areas of land and water.

The group of animals they study typically categorizes zoologists. Mammalogists study mammals, ornithologists study birds, ichthyologists study fish, and herpetologists study reptiles.

What kind of training does a zoologist need?

Most zoologists need at doctoral degree in zoology or other related area of biological science. A master degree may be adequate for some positions. Zoologists typically have a strong background in biology, chemistry, and mathematics. While pursuing their education, many aspiring zoologists volunteer or work part-time at zoos, veterinary clinics, farms, and other places to gain hands-on experience with working and caring for animals. Many zoologists also complete internship programs.

What are the prospects for a career as a zoologist?

Employment of all biological scientists including zoologists is expected to grow about as fast as average for all professions, increasing 9% from 2006 to 2016 (1). The growth and development of biotechnical research drives job growth as well as the need to care for animals.

Job prospects are expected to be good with keen competition. Zoologists with advanced education and extensive experience will have the best prospects.

How much do zoologists make?

As of July 2009, the middle 50% of zoologists earned annual salaries between $51,748 and $77,919. The highest 10% earned annual salaries of more than $91,336 (2).

A career as a zoologist is a great choice for individuals who have a genuine interest in all types of animals. Zoologists should be able to work effectively independently or as part of a team. Good communication, self-discipline, patience, and good physical stamina are also desirable qualities. Zoologists must also be able to think quickly in emergency or dangerous situations.

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