Animal Physiologist: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an animal physiologist. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and necessary skills to find out if this is the career for you.

Essential Information

Animal physiologists study how animals react to internal and external elements in their environment. Individuals in this profession may work as instructors, scientists, or consultants. The minimum requirement for a career in animal physiology is a bachelor's degree, though a graduate degree may be required for some positions

Required Education Degree requirements vary by employer, ranging from a bachelor's degree to a Ph.D. in animal physiology or related field
Other Requirements Must be able to carry out research and perform experiments
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)*19% for all biochemists and biophysicists; 5% for all zoologists and wildlife biologists
Mean Salary (2013)*$91,640 for all biochemists and biophysicists; $62,610 for all zoologists and wildlife biologists

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Animal Physiologist Job Description

Animal physiologists study and research cellular and organ structure in animals. They also study animal functions such as reproduction, movement, and growth in natural and artificial environments. Physiologists may perform controlled experiments to see if certain factors have an affect on animal nutrition, breeding, or health.

Animal physiologists may be employed by pharmaceutical companies, research organizations, or museums for their expertise. They also may work in schools, instructing students who aspire to work as veterinarians, animal scientists, or physiologists. Builders may employ physiologists as consultants for advice on housing environments for livestock. Feed suppliers might consult with physiologists on animal dietary needs.

Since research and experiments are often team-based, it's helpful for animal physiologists to be able to communicate and work well with others. Patience and endurance are also useful characteristics for conducting lengthy and thorough research projects.

Duties of an Animal Physiologist

In addition to studying and conducting experiments, animal physiologists typically have a wide variety of duties. They may develop research plans, protocols, and testing procedures. Physiologists also study reproductive cells and chromosomes. They may evaluate hormonal status and presence of abnormal changes in exfoliated or abraded cells.

Animal physiologists may assess animal metabolism and nutrition. They might evaluate animal housing to ensure that it meets optimum temperature, humidity, and space requirements for animal health. Physiologists also study and analyze animal tissue microscopically.

Education Requirements of an Animal Physiologist

Depending on the type of position, some employers require applicants to have a bachelor's or master's degree in animal physiology or pharmacology; others may require a doctoral degree (Ph.D.). A bachelor's degree typically takes four years to complete and a master's degree program can usually be completed in one to two years. A Ph.D. in animal physiology, physiology, or animal sciences commonly takes four years to complete.

Salary Info and Job Outlook

The employment of biochemists and biophysicists is projected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, to grow about 19% between 2012 and 2022, while job opportunities for zoologists and wildlife biologists could grow approximately five percent during the same decade. The BLS published salary estimates in May 2013, reporting the average salary earned among biochemists and biophysicists was $91,640 and zoologists and wildlife biologists earned an average of $62,610.

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