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What is Animal Science?
Animal science refers to the study of domesticated animals for a variety of reasons, including areas such as breeding, nutrition, behavior and biotechnology. Originally the study of animal science was used for farm animals, though over the course of its development has expanded to include domesticated pets, and other such animals, and as a result has also become a precursor to studying veterinary science.
Individuals wishing to study animal science will find that programs are available in colleges and universities throughout the United States. Such programs take approximately four years to complete, varying based on student course load. Upon completion students will have received an education that combines practical experience with a variety of sciences in order to better equip the individual student with the skills necessary to perform their given tasks and duties. Graduate level studies in the field allows for greater specialization of one's education, with PhD studies typically being pursued by individuals interested in research.
Programs may include courses in:
- Animal Behavior
As mentioned above individuals may pursue animal science as a precursor to veterinary studies, which in turn requires additional study in order to be able to operate and treat a variety of animals in a medical setting. Such study involves understanding animal physiology, biology, behavior and can be intensive. Additionally, specialization can also be pursued in this field, with veterinarians working on domesticated animals, livestock or exotic animals.
Individuals with a degree in animal science have a variety of career options available to them in both the public and private sector. The level of interest and type of employment desired typically dictates the areas an individual will enter into, allowing for great diversity of employment for a single area of study. Individuals may work with breeding programs, farms, zoos, biotechnology companies, provide behavior modification services and more. Due to the nature of the field some individuals may choose to establish their own businesses relating to the care, treatment and training of animals for domestic purposes.
Employment may also be pursued in public organizations, such as awareness groups, shelters, or and the like, or for non-profit organizations that promote better treatment of animals. Private companies involved in research require individuals with higher levels of education, allowing for the development of treatments and products geared at animals. Education positions also require higher level degrees, particularly for those seeking to teach at the college level.
Job Growth, Salary, and Related Fields
Animal Science careers are expected to see continued growth over the next decade, primarily for in the area of food production with animals that provide meat and poultry for consumption. The increase in employment opportunities is attributed to the need for more efficient and healthier food sources through better breeding methods and care giving technologies. The average salary for an animal scientist is $59,000 annually but may vary greatly based on education, experience, and area of employment.
Individuals interested in animal science may also be interested in animal nutrition, poultry science, and livestock management.
The American Society of Animal Science (ASAS), is a national and international organization that provides its members resources related to the field of animal science, and promotes the development of methods and technologies in order to better the relationship between humans and animals. This is accomplished through the dissemination of information of information regarding scientific care, the application of new technologies, diversity of membership and the assertion that animals are necessary for human life and well being.
The American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists (ARPAS) provides certification examinations for individuals seeking employment and professional growth. The organization works with five professional societies in order to promote its services and goals. Membership to ARPAS provides professional credibility, education services, access to publications in advances in the field, and other relevant services for professionals.
As an additional resource, you can also read our blog post titled Top College Degrees for Animal Lovers for more information.