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Equine Scientist: Job Description & Career Info

Equine science is a specialization within animal science, which involves the study of the reproduction, physiology, behavior and nutrition of horses. Job opportunities may include professional riding instruction, horse training and stable management. Read on to learn more about educational requirements, helpful skills, job outlook and salaries for equine scientists.

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Career Definition

Equine scientists apply their knowledge of the field to improve the welfare of both equine athletes and leisure horses. They may also use their expertise to enhance the relationship between a horse and rider. One of the most common occupations associated with equine science is that of a horse trainer, and the responsibilities of the job go beyond simply teaching a horse to respond to specific commands. A skilled equine scientist might also oversee the diet, breeding and rehabilitation of one or more horses.

How to Become an Equine Scientist

Required Education

Aspiring equine scientists must earn at least a bachelor's degree to convert their love of horses into a livelihood. Programs are available at vocational schools and colleges that emphasize agricultural studies. Coursework includes topics in horse anatomy, reproduction and breeding, equine disease and equine rehabilitation. Some equine scientists consider their education to be the first step in achieving a veterinary degree, which requires an additional four years.

Required Skills

A passion for horses and the horse industry are necessary for a successful career in equine science. Previous hands-on experience with horses is also helpful. A comfort with scientific methods and equipment will be advantageous for an equine scientist.

Career and Salary Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), animal trainers who performed tasks like training horses or providing riding lessons earned a mean annual income of $30,340 in May 2012. Jobs for animal care and service workers, who may be responsible for training animals, were expected to grow by 15% from 2012 to 2022, a faster-than-average rate in comparison to all other occupations.

Those who continued their education and became veterinarians received a mean annual income of $93,250 in May 2012. Veterinarian jobs in general were expected to increase by the fast-as-average rate of 12% between 2012 and 2022; opportunities in farm animal care may be higher (www.bls.gov).

Alternate Career Options

Veterinary Technologists and Technicians

Veterinary technicians and technologists can assist or execute many of the same tasks performed by veterinarians, including diagnostic lab tests and the administration of serums and vaccinations. They may also maintain and sterilize machines and equipment or provide assistance during surgical procedures. An associate degree in veterinary technology is required to work as a technician; technologists will need a bachelor's degree. As required by individual states, both technicians and technologists must be certified, licensed or registered.

As reported by the BLS, employment opportunities for technicians and technologists are anticipated to increase by 30% between 2012 and 2022, or much faster than average in comparison to other occupations. In May 2012, technicians and technologists received mean annual salaries of $31,470 (www.bls.gov).

Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists

A bachelor's degree in ecology, wildlife biology and zoology is the minimum educational requirement for obtaining an entry-level position in this field. Higher-level and research positions typically require a master's or doctoral degree. In general, zoologists and wildlife biologists investigate how animals behave and interact with their environments. Research topics can include animal behaviors, characteristics, development and diseases.

Between 2012 and 2022, job opportunities for zoologists and wildlife biologists are projected to increase by a slower-than-average rate of 5%, according to the BLS. Professionals employed in this field in May 2012 earned mean annual wages of $62,500 (www.bls.gov).

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics