Become a Poultry Scientist: Education and Career Roadmap

Mar 09, 2020

Learn how to become a poultry scientist. Research the education requirements, certification information, and experience required to begin a career in poultry science.

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Poultry Scientist Career Info

A poultry scientist researches the growth, development, physiology, genetics, nutrition, behavior, and breeding of birds that are domesticated for the purpose of human consumption. They also apply their knowledge of such disciplines as biology and chemistry to improve the production and management of poultry. These professionals often work in laboratory or office environments, though they may be called on to do fieldwork at farms or in processing facilities. They should have good critical-thinking skills, the ability to analyze data and make decisions, familiarity with scientific and database software, and the ability to use animal husbandry equipment. In 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that animal scientists in general made a slightly higher than average median pay of $58,380 per year.

Career Requirements at a Glance

Degree Level Bachelor's degree; some organizations prefer a graduate degree
Degree Fields Agricultural science, animal science
Experience Gained via coursework
Certification Voluntary certification is available
Key Skills Good communication and critical-thinking skills; ability to analyze data and make decisions; familiarity with scientific and database software, basic office software, and email; an ability to use scientific or animal husbandry equipment associated with the field
Salary (2018)* $58,380 per year (median salary for all animal scientists)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*Net Online

Obtain a Bachelor's Degree

Although education levels for poultry scientists vary depending on the nature of their work, virtually all of these professionals have acquired at least a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. Majors such as animal science, poultry science, and agriculture provide excellent training for future poultry scientists. Specific topics for discussion may range from nutrition to egg evaluation, and advanced courses may explore more intensive concepts in bacteriology, immunology, and poultry processing.

Consider an Advanced Degree

O*Net Online reports that the majority of animal scientists have completed a graduate degree program. Additionally, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that poultry scientists considering advanced research or teaching positions typically need to complete a master's or doctoral degree program. Students in these advanced degree programs may specialize in such fields as animal breeding or nutrition. Accordingly, coursework may range from food regulations to labs on virology.

Find Employment

Poultry scientists may work for poultry farms, research and development laboratories, postsecondary institutions, and government agencies. Their duties may range from planning and conducting experiments on chickens to teaching undergraduate students. These professionals may also use their expertise in poultry to work for sales, marketing, or consulting firms.

Attain Certification

Professional certification isn't required to become a poultry scientist, but it may help job seekers find employment. These professionals may look to specific certifications based on their job functions. For example, poultry scientists working in farm management may become Accredited Farm Managers, while those working in consulting may become Certified Agricultural Consultants. To be eligible, candidates typically need a combination of education and work experience, after which they may take a qualifying exam to earn their credentials.

Join a Professional Organization

Joining professional associations also provides numerous benefits for poultry scientists. For example, members of the American Society of Animal Science are given an avenue to network with other agricultural professionals, access to a body of knowledge in the form of industry journals, and the opportunity to ascend to leadership positions within these associations. All of these aspects of membership can be beneficial to career advancement.

In sum, poultry scientists can work in a variety of environments, but first they must complete a bachelor's degree, and oftentimes an advanced degree as well, before going out into the field of their choice.

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