Courses in animal science are designed to show students the fundamentals of animal management and care in agricultural and domestic settings. At both levels of study, students learn about animal nutrition, health, anatomy and reproduction. Bachelor's degree programs may include more advanced courses, such as genetics. Degrees in this discipline can lead to entry-level employment or further studies in subjects like veterinary medicine.
Prerequisites for both programs include a high school diploma or its equivalent. A strong background in life and physical science, as well as mathematics, is encouraged for applicants to an associate's degree program.
Associate's Degree in Animal Science
Whether for veterinary care or livestock and dairy production, 2-year associate's degree programs in animal science introduce students to the fundamentals of animal well-being.
Associate's degree programs give students introductory knowledge in different fields of animal husbandry. Students learn about livestock and dairy production and are given an overview of equine science. Students also learn about agricultural economic and business operations and industry terminology in order to communicate with those both inside and outside the industry. Some common course topics include:
- Feeds and feeding
- Livestock behavior
- Livestock nutrition
- Equine nutrition
- Small animal management
Bachelor of Science in Animal Science
A baccalaureate degree in animal science prepares students looking to continue their education and work with animals in veterinary school or upper level agricultural management. These 4-year programs emphasize animal welfare for both domesticated and agricultural settings.
Students pursuing a bachelor's degree in animal science learn about animal anatomy and physiology as well as animal reproduction and genetics. A school may also offer students the opportunity to manage and care for animals through internship programs in agricultural environments. Students also need to complete courses in general biology and chemistry in order to fulfill degree requirements. Some common course topics include:
- Animal biology
- Animal management
- Animal behavior
- Animal nutrition
- Animal breeding
Popular Career Options
Those with an undergraduate degree in animal science can go on to continue their education in veterinary science at the graduate level. Other opportunities for those with a bachelor's degree in animal science can also be found in farm management, agricultural sales and marketing, and animal promotion and information. Those with an animal science degree can also find jobs in the fields of:
- Pre-veterinary medicine
- Animal training
- Agricultural consulting
- Agricultural store management
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Individuals with an associate's degree in animal science can find entry-level positions in the agriculture industry. Career opportunities can also be found outside the farming industry as private companies, government agencies, and universities look for animal science researchers. Other possible entry-level career opportunities can include veterinary assistant, zookeeper, or kennel manager positions.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that non-farm animal caretakers earned a mean salary of $23,630 as of May 2015. However, earnings varied widely depending on the type of employer. The average salary for non-farm animal caretakers with the federal government, for instance, was a much higher $39,200. Job growth for animal care and service workers of all types was projected by the BLS to increase 11% between 2014 and 2024, a rate higher than the national average.
Both associate's and bachelor's degree programs in animal science cover topics in animal health, nutrition and management to prepare graduates to work in a variety of environments. These include agricultural opportunities on farms and ranches, as well jobs in veterinary offices, sales and marketing, training and consulting.