Become a Zoologist
Do you love animals and wildlife? Do you often wish you could go out to live and work with animals? Well, if you become a zoologist you can do just that!
A zoologist is often referred to as a wildlife biologist and is one of the natural sciences where you have to study various animals in their natural habitats, as well as their behavior when in captivation, or in laboratories. Most entry level jobs require you to have an undergraduate degree in biology majoring in zoology, but for most research jobs you will be required to have your PhD. The job outlook for zoologists is good, with a predicted 13% increase in jobs over the next 8 years, so now is the perfect time to go become a zoologist.
A zoologist is not simply an animal behavior expert, but also studies animal diseases, life process, reproduction, feeding habits, and the number of certain animals. Most zoologists tend to specialize in one type of animal that appeals to them and interests them the most, for example, mammalogists study mammals, ichthyologists study fish, ornithologists study birds, and herpetologists study reptiles. Some zoologists go one step further and decide to only study elephants, or sharks.
To become a zoologist you should start out when you are in high school volunteering at zoos, animal shelters, kennels, and aquariums to gain experience working with animals. Subjects you should take include mathematics, chemistry, biology, and physics.
The next step is to get your undergraduate degree in zoology or biology with suggested additional classes like genetics, botany, anthropology, evolution, animal psychology, stats, chemistry, mathematics, ecology, conservation and biochemistry. If you want to get accepted into the best jobs, you should also think about taking extra courses in English, a foreign language and technical writing, as you will need top communication skills in this line of work. If you want to teach zoology, go into management positions, or conduct research you will need to advance your qualification with a Master’s and Doctorate degree.
A zoologist has the ability to work in government and may eventually get to head up a national wildlife refuge facility once they have enough experience. Currently the federal government offers the highest number of zoologist jobs, but you can also find work in zoos, national parks, nature reserves, research labs, and museums. If you decide to move into the research side of things, then you also need to understand how to write and apply for government funding and acquire the necessary grants in order to carry out the research. Some zoologists end up becoming vets, animal dentists, or go into teaching biology or science at schools or colleges.
With zoology being an important job, there are also various scholarship programs offered by various organizations including The National Science Foundation, The Howard Hughes Medical Institute, The Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, The Association for Women in Science, Iowa Lakes Community College, Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, and the Rocky Mountain Biological Lab just to name a few.
It is common for a zoologist to work a regular 40 hour week, but sometimes when conducting research or in the field longer hours are expected, with zoologists working into the night, and occasionally over weekends and holidays.
An important part of being a zoologist is working outdoors in the field and you have to be prepared to travel extensively and work outdoors for periods of time in cold or hot conditions. You should be fit and healthy with a calm personality that sooths the animals you are working with. Depending on what animals you study, the job can have a certain element of danger, so extra precautions and preventative measures should always be taken. You should also be prepared to dissect dead animals to learn more about them.
Becoming a zoologist is something that many people think about because they love animals, but then never do. Don’t let this be you.
Zoologist Salary Information
Quick Facts About Zoologist Positions
Job Title: Zoologist
Office: Laboratory, an office, or out in the field.
Description: The study of wildlife and animals.
Certifications/Education: A Bachelor degree in zoology or biological sciences is needed for entry level jobs, but for managerial positions and research, a Master’s and PhD is required.
Necessary Skills: Dedication, patience, able to communicate effectively, knowledge of computers, must be a team player, able to lead, and have an analytical mind.
Potential Employers: Zoos, National Parks, Nature Reserves, Museums, Research labs, and Government Organizations.
Pay: The annual average income of a zoologist is $61,000 with Maryland being the highest paying State offering $91,000 on average for a zoologist.
Association of Zoos and Aquariums
International Congress of Zookeepers
American Association of Zookeepers
Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory
Association for Women in Science
The Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology
National Science Foundation
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Grants for Science