Zoologist: Education and Career Information
If you enjoy the study of animals, you may want to consider becoming a zoologist. There are a number of specializations in the field. Students who have pursued this area of study have a vested interest in the biological makeup of an animal and their overall behavior. This career path is very detailed and complex, usually requiring frequent travel based on the specific job requirements.
What does a zoologist do?
Zoologists handle a variety of duties, including the development and collection of information to perform experimental studies, collection of biological data for analysis, development of conservation plans, development of recommendations for wildlife conservation, write reports, research papers and articles to explain the findings from analysis. Zoologists may work alone or with a research team of scientists and technicians.
Zoologists work to help the population understand specific information on wildlife, paying close attention to the characteristics of animals, how they interact with other species, how they reproduce, handle diseases and movement. Due to the nature of the job, these individuals may work for long periods of time in the office and in the field. You can find zoologists working for the federal government, in research companies, as a consultant, or an educator.
Zoologists work in diverse areas to develop and test new drugs, improve agricultural crops and livestock, monitor disease and pest control, work on animal welfare and education, and help to develop policies and regulations for governmental agencies. They conduct extensive research in a variety of climates and weather conditions, studying multiple species, ecosystems, population interactions and behaviors.
How much does a zoologist earn?
The pay for a zoologist varies based on location, education, experience and type of facility where the job is located. The median annual average for zoologists in May 2012 was $57,710. On the low scale, zoologists made about $37,000, and high paying areas made about $95,000. This field of study is anticipated to grow by five percent through 2022, which is slower than average compared to most occupations.
What types of skills are required to be a zoologist?
Due to its specialized nature, there are certain skills needed to be successful in this career:
Planning: In order to put together information for the masses and help establish regulations, this person must have an intense grasp on planning and how to navigate value. Because there is a huge possibility of frequent travel, being able to properly plan for the unknown is key.
Analytical skills: Studying animals is a complex process. This position requires the ability to deeply analyze a number of scientific methods, tests and other materials to do the job effectively.
Problem-solving skills: When dealing with this subject matter, there are a number of problems that may arise. Keeping a level head while helping to find resolutions in solving the problem is key.
Communication: Being able to communication on a variety of levels through speaking, interviews and writing is essential in this position. Because it is centered on science, there must be strong writing skills to properly disseminate all information.
Organization: This is a highly organized position, especially dealing with animals, testing and other scientific methods. There is a lot of information to be collected and extracted. Being able to keep up with the tests, information and communications to the different agencies takes a high degree of organization to keep things in order.
Science: A good understanding of science and anatomy is important in this career field. There are a number of scientific concepts and methods needed to carry out this position. Knowing biology and chemistry are essential in understanding research and concepts that can assist in creating alternatives and new recommendations for making things better.
Outdoor skills: This position works in the field quite a bit, and must be able to adapt to outdoor living and surroundings on a frequent basis. Depending on the location, zoologists may have to utilize camping skills, generators and other equipment in a number of climates.
Collaboration: Being able to collaborate with others is important in this career path, having patience, perseverance and the ability to be part of a multi-disciplinary team to assess a number of components.
While requirements for each program differ, most internships for the zoology program are 40 hours per week for about 15 weeks. Each degree program (bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral) requires an internship that can be done in a variety of settings, including hospital labs; foundations; businesses; national parks; private institutes; federal government and state health labs.
To become a zoologist, you must obtain a bachelor’s degree in zoology, animal ecology, animal behavior or conservation. Individuals who wish to become a zoologist can also obtain a degree in biology while completing coursework in zoology to prepare for this position. For positions on a higher scale, a master’s degree will be needed to progress. Once these degrees have been obtained and the individual is working in the field, they may want to start conducting independent research or teaching. For these positions, a Ph.D. is required. At the doctorate level, individuals must also be familiar with statistical software and computer programming.
Coursework in this field includes:
When obtaining the Ph.D., a detailed research project in collaboration with other colleagues to develop research skills is required. Students will also have to present a thesis based on the findings of the research report, and be prepared to be interviewed about the research that was conducted.
Unlike a number of other professions, there are no licensing requirements in the field of zoology. Advancing in the career will be based on level of experience and recommendations based on work ethic and relationships with others.
This can be a very rewarding career path for someone who cares about the overall welfare of the animal population and how things work. Not only is it interesting, but can become more lucrative over time for additional rewards.