Whether an individual chooses to study animal science at the associate's or bachelor's degree level, both of these programs will include core courses in livestock management and animal breeding. However, a bachelor's program may allow students to gain hands-on experience. Many programs incorporate internships at farms or other locations in the animal agricultural industry. Bachelor's programs also include more general education requirements than associate's programs. Graduates of both programs can pursue careers in breeding, farming and related sectors of the agricultural industry.
Both associate's and bachelor's degree programs require a high school diploma or equivalent, and standardized test scores may be required. A bachelor's program may also ask for an admissions essay and letters of recommendation. Some courses and programs are available online.
Associate's Degree in Animal Science
Students interested in animal husbandry can start their education by pursuing an associate's degree in animal science. This 2-year degree program instructs students in the production and management of livestock. Coursework focuses on providing a comprehensive understanding of animal agriculture, with classes in health and sanitation, breeding, livestock evaluation and other topics. Sample core course titles might include:
- Livestock marketing
- Equine nutrition
- Breeding and genetics
- Animal anatomy and physiology
- Housing construction
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Bachelor's Degree in Animal Science
Four-year bachelor's degree programs in animal science vary with regards to the emphasis of the curriculum. Some are designed to prepare individuals for entry-level positions in the animal and food industries. Other programs feature a curriculum designed for the farm owner or operator. Independent of the curriculum emphasis, a bachelor's degree program in animal science teaches the biological and physical processes involved in animal care and utilization. Coursework may include the following:
- Herd health
- Range management
- Food and fiber systems
- Advanced breeding
- Swine nutrition
Popular Career Options
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the increasing cost of land, machinery and other essentials will contribute to fewer employment opportunities for farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers from 2014-2024. Job opportunities are expected to decline by 2% during this decade. This decline will be partially offset by the growing popularity of small-scale, local and organic farming. Some sample job titles are included below:
- Agricultural inspector
- Organic meat and produce farmer
- Animal breeder
Career Outlook and Salary Information
Useful salary information for farmers and ranchers can be difficult to ascertain, owing in part to the annual fluctuations in price and demand for farm output. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for animal breeders was $39,380 as of May 2015. The BLS also reports a median salary of $64,170 for farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers, and $29,830 for general agricultural workers as of May 2015.
Continuing Education Information
For the person interested in a career caring for or breeding farm animals, an associate's or bachelor's degree in animal science is usually sufficient. While graduate degree programs in animal husbandry are extremely rare, master's and doctoral degree programs in animal science are available. These programs are designed to teach the skills and knowledge needed for senior research and faculty positions within the agricultural sector. Related programs, which include an animal husbandry curriculum at the graduate level, include veterinary technology, veterinary medicine, agricultural science and animal management.
Students interested in animal husbandry can pursue an associate's or bachelor's degree in animal science to study animal agriculture, breeding, care, and more. Students can pursue further education or begin careers as farm managers, government workers, or animal breeders.