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Zoologist: Employment Info & Career Requirements

Learn about a career as a zoologist. Read the job description, duties, education requirements, salary and employment outlook to decide if this is the right career for you.

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Career Definition for a Zoologist

Zoologists are responsible for observing animals in their natural habitats and looking after them in a laboratory or zoo setting in order to gain as much information about animal life as possible. Zoologists usually specialize in a particular family or species of animal. They begin by studying an animal's origins and developing an understanding of its evolution over time. Zoologists observe how animals interact with their environment and other animals. Zoologists also conduct research on how diseases develop and how traits are passed on to each generation.

Education Doctoral degree in zoology, undergraduate work in biology or zoology
Job Skills Independent and team work, interpersonal skills, communication skills and patience
Median Salary (2015)* $59,680 (zoologists and wildlife biologists)
Job Outlook (2014-2024)* 4% growth (zoologists and wildlife biologists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements

Many zoologists are required to complete a zoology doctoral degree and must also major in biology or zoology as an undergraduate. While earning a graduate degree, prospective zoologists will conduct research related to their chosen specialty. Some entry-level industry positions may only require a bachelor's degree, but these types of positions are limited in their responsibilities, pay and advancement opportunities.

Required Skills

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a zoologist must be able to work as part of a team and independently. Interpersonal skills are essential, and scientists must be able to communicate effectively. Zoologists must be able to maintain a strong sense of patience, because a research project can turn into a long and tedious process.

Employment and Salary Outlook

Most zoologists work for the government or for private sector research and consulting companies. The BLS reported that zoologist and wildlife biologist jobs were expected to increase 4% from 2014-2024, which was slower than average. The BLS also stated that the median annual income for zoologists and wildlife biologists in 2015 was $59,680.

Alternate Career Options

Similar career options to zoologists include:

Veterinarian

Vets are required to earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, along with a state license, in order to diagnose and treat animals. Average employment growth of 9% was anticipated by the BLS from 2014-2024, and a median annual wage of $88,490 was reported in 2015.

Conservation Scientist and Forester

Earning a minimum of a bachelor's degree in forestry or a related field, conservation scientists and foresters are employed by private landowners or government agencies to manage forests, other lands and various natural resources. Job growth of 8% was predicted for foresters through 2024 by the BLS, and a 7% growth rate was projected for conservation scientists. In 2015, the median annual salaries were $58,230 for foresters and $61,110 for the conservation scientists, according to the BLS.

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