Careers in Animal Research Science: Job Options and Requirements

Oct 03, 2019

There are different educational requirements for those pursuing a career in animal research science. For those interested in a specific area of animal research science, a master's or doctorate degree would be the best option for obtaining the desired position. Students who wish to enter the field of veterinary technology need only to obtain a bachelor's degree and state licensing.

Essential Information

Degree programs in animal research science are typically found as undergraduate programs that result in a Bachelor of Science. Undergraduate degrees in scientific fields like biology, microbiology, and chemistry prepare students for future work or further education. A master's or doctoral degree creates opportunities for higher paying positions, such as academic research.

Career Animal Behaviorists Biological technicians Veterinary Technicians and Technologists Marine Biologists
Education Requirements Bachelor's; master's or doctorate for advancement Bachelor's Associate's or bachelor's Bachelor's; master's or doctorate for advancement
Other Requirements N/A N/A License or certification N/A
Job Growth (2018-2028)* 5% for all zoologists and wildlife biologists 19% 7% 5% for all zoologists and wildlife biologists
Median Salary (2018)* $63,420 for all zoologists and wildlife biologists $34,420 $44,500 $63,420 for all zoologists and wildlife biologists

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

Graduates that want to specialize in an animal research science field often continue their education with a master's or doctoral degree that prepares them for careers in a specific area, such as biotechnology or marine biology. However, career options in veterinary technology are available to graduates of a bachelor's program. Below are overviews and detailed descriptions of four possible career options for students.

Animal Behaviorist

Animal behaviorists perform studies to understand the reasons animals act as they do. These professionals observe and evaluate animal behavior patterns in order to help people raise and care for animals more effectively. Animal behaviorists may conduct their research for industrial companies that are trying to improve the production of farm animals, as well as individuals who are trying to discipline their pets.


The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that a bachelor's degree in agricultural science qualifies graduates to work in private industry. Those who want to perform research for universities usually need at least a master's degree or a doctoral degree. Degrees in related scientific fields like biology, chemistry, and physics may also allow graduates to work in agricultural research jobs. Coursework general covers animal anatomy, physiology and psychology.

Career and Salary Information

The BLS estimates that jobs for zoologists and wildlife biologists - including animal behaviorists - will have an average growth from 2018-2028. The agency also reported that the mean salary for people working in these jobs was $67,760 in 2018.

Biological Technician

Biological technicians perform lab tests, clinical tasks and assist with surgical procedures. Pharmaceutical companies and research institutes often employ these technicians.


A bachelor's degree may be enough for some research positions in industry. However, the BLS stated that graduate students who want to work in biotechnology research need a significant background in sciences, such as cell and molecular biology, microbiology, and chemistry.

Career and Salary Information

The BLS predicts that biotechnician jobs will increase faster than average from 2018-2028. The BLS also reported that biotechnician jobs paid a mean salary of $48,060 in 2018.

Veterinary Technician and Technologist

Veterinary technicians or technologists may work in research facilities. Duties may include prescribing medications, preparing laboratory samples and keeping records on the animals' vital statistics, diets, weights and clinical conditions.


Veterinary technicians usually need to complete an associate's degree from an American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) accredited program. Veterinary technologists become qualified by completing a bachelor's degree in the field from an AVMA accredited program. The BLS reported that many states require veterinary technicians and technologists to become licensed or certified by successfully completing an exam. This exam contains oral, written and practical sections. An agency like the State Board of Veterinary Examiners regulates the examination. The National Veterinary Technician exam is used by most states. Many research laboratories prefer technicians who are certified by the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science based on a combination of education and experience.

Career and Salary Information

Veterinary technicians and technologists can expect the number of jobs in the field to grow much faster than average from 2018-2028, according to the BLS. The mean salary for these jobs was $35,560 in 2018.

Marine Biologist

Marine biologists study aquatic life in oceans, seas and other salt water areas. Marine biologists may monitor and record information on plankton, worms, fish and shellfish. Some marine biologists may work for research labs or for commercial fish farms, while others may work in universities or for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


According to the BLS, a bachelor's degree or master's degree may qualify graduates for some types of applied research positions. A Ph.D. is usually required for academic research positions. Doctoral candidates seeking permanent college or university basic research positions need a good record of published research in marine biology or a related field. This is often obtained by completing a postdoctoral research position.

Career and Salary Information

The BLS counts marine biologists with zoologists and wildlife biologists in general; jobs are expected to increase as fast as the average from 2018-2028. The agency also reported that the mean salary for zoologists and wildlife biologists was $67,760 in 2018.

Animal research science is a field with a large variety of career options, depending on your interest and education level. While animal and marine biologists are currently at an average growth of 5%, they earn a higher mean salary of around $68,000 annually. Meanwhile, veterinary technologists are at a faster than average rate of 19%, but earn a lower mean annual salary of about $36,000.

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