Career Information for a Degree in Animal Science

Degrees in animal science typically cover livestock production, genetics, nutrition, and microbiology. Find out about the requirements of these programs, and learn about career options, job growth, and salary info for animal science graduates.

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Some of the careers that graduates of an animal science degree program can pursue include jobs in farm management, animal science, and veterinary medicine. While a bachelor's degree may or may not be required for aspiring farm mangers, the education and training for vets and animal scientists is quite significant. Veterinarians must have a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree and animal scientists need to complete a doctoral degree in an area such as animal nutrition or reproduction.

Essential Information

A degree in animal science can lead to many careers with wide ranges in job duties and salaries. An animal science degree is offered on all levels, and many programs provide students the opportunity to work with animals.

Career Title Veterinarian Animal Scientist Farm Manager
Education Requirements Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree Doctoral degree High school diploma, though a bachelor's degree is increasingly required
Other Requirements North American Veterinary Licensing Exam None Farm experience
Projected Job Growth* (2014-2024) 9% 7% -2%
Median Salary* (2015) $88,490 $60,390 $64,170
(Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers)

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Animal Science Degree Information

An animal science degree program can prepare students for careers in the management, science and medicine fields. Individuals who earn this degree may be self-employed or work in hospitals or for major companies. The employment outlook and annual salary can vary greatly between professions.

Animal science degrees are offered at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Many programs incorporate work experience into the curriculum, and some institutions may have facilities for students to learn hands-on. These programs focus heavily on the biological sciences and include many laboratory-based classes. Some animal science programs offer concentrations, like management.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Animal Health Sciences
  • Animal Nutrition
  • Dairy Science
  • Farm Animal Breeding
  • Livestock Management
  • Poultry Science


According to O*Net Online, veterinarians diagnose and treat animals by giving medication and performing surgeries (www.onetonline.org). They can work for animal hospitals, research facilities or in a private practice. Some veterinarians work with all animal types while other vets, such as equine veterinarians, focus on one species. Veterinarians may choose to become specialists and focus on a single area of medicine.

Prospective veterinarians need to complete a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.) degree program after finishing an animal science program. Prospective programs must be accredited by the Council on Education of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Programs last four years and involve extensive clinical time in the fourth year.

Upon completion of veterinary school, many individuals undergo an internship to gain experience or a residency program to become board certified. All states require that veterinarians be licensed. While there is some variance in requirements, all states require that individuals hold a D.V.M. and pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), veterinarians were predicted to see a 9% increase in employment from 2014 to 2024 (www.bls.gov). The BLS stated that the median annual salary for veterinarians was $88,490 in 2015.

Animal Scientist

Animal scientists use scientific principles to solve problems that plague animals. These professionals typically focus on either companion animals or livestock and can work in specific research areas, such as reproduction or nutrition. Animal scientists can be employed by feed and pharmaceutical companies, government agencies, national organizations or universities.

Many animal scientist jobs are research-based and require a graduate degree, especially for university positions. Students may consider graduate degrees specific to their own interests, such as animal nutrition or animal reproduction.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

Employment opportunities for animal scientists were forecasted to increase 7% between the years 2014 and 2024, according to the BLS. The annual median salary of animal scientists in 2015 was $60,390.

Farm Manager

Farm managers direct the operations of farms, often specializing in one area, such as finances or animal care. They develop procedures and work with owners to maintain long-term plans that increase productivity. Farm managers begin their careers by managing one area of the farm, but may later advance to general manager positions and supervise other managers. Many are employed by large commercial farms.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

The BLS estimates that employment opportunities for farm managers will decrease 2% between the years 2014 and 2024, as more corporations continue to purchase farms. The median salary for farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers as of May 2015 was $64,170.

In addition to their specialized degree from a four-year program recognized by the Council on Education of the American Veterinary Medical Association, veterinarians must also be licensed, which involves successfully completing the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam. Animal scientists often work in research and are commonly employed in industries such as academia, pharmaceutics, and government. It is important for farm managers to have previous hands-on experience in agriculture, as well as a specialization, such as animal care or finance.

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