See a list of Zoology Programs by Clicking Here!
What is Zoology and Animal Biology?
Zoology and Animal Biology is the study of animals, their environments and interactions, and the cellular makeup and processes that keep them alive. Degrees in zoology and animal biology can be obtained at the associate level and continue until the PhD, though most individuals will typically pursue at least a bachelor's degree. Zoology and animal biology is considered a very broad sub-field of biology, and provides skills and knowledge in scientific research, laboratory science, along with chemistry, physics and genetics.
How to Become a Zoologist
To become a zoologist, you will need to earn a college degree. Many entry-level positions in the field require at least a bachelor’s degree in zoology or a related degree program such as wildlife biology, ecology, biology, forestry, fishery science, wildlife management, or wildlands science. Zoologists are required to understand environmental systems, anatomy, biological processes, and the ecology.
Earning a master’s degree or PhD in zoology will help you secure a job beyond an entry-level position. An online master’s degree in zoology will typically last 1-2 years and PhD programs an additional 2-4 years depending on the number of classes taken at a given time and area of concentration selected. A graduate degree in zoology can lead graduates into a number of exciting career professions that include: research for government agencies, college professor, non-government agencies, environmental consultants, extension specialist, research biologist, wildlife manager, wildlife services administration, and conservationist.
Individuals enrolled in a zoology and animal biology programs will study the various aspects of animal life, particularly the physiology of a given animal and how it has adapted to operate in its natural environment. Students will be learn to utilize scientific analyses and research, utilizing actual specimens to study both in the wild and in a laboratory setting. Student will also learn how to apply the information obtained from the various sciences into applicable use, particularly when studying animals at cellular and molecular levels. Schools with programs in zoology and animal biology typically have resources such as wildlife preserves, estuaries, or other such locations from which to perform tests and experiments, allowing for the development of practical knowledge and experience prior to pursuing internships or career opportunities.
A curriculum in zoology and animal biology may include:
- Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
- Animal Physiology
- Animal Behavior
- Organic Chemistry
Zoology and animal biology as a career is a narrow field that is predominantly occupied with research. There are job opportunities available and job growth is expected to remain steady, but these opportunities will be limited. Careers in zoology and animal biology are typically defined by the field of study.
- Ornithologist (Birds)
- Mammalogist (Mammals)
- Herpetologist (Reptiles)
- Ichthyologist (Fish)
- Entomologist (Insects)
Schools Other Students Requested Information From:
Due to the nature of zoology and animal biology, career opportunities are highly competitive, often requiring individuals to participate as interns for two or more projects prior to obtaining a paid position. Those who obtain positions will either do so through research proposals, or as a member of an existing agency or project. Research studies and projects may be funded by the government, colleges or universities, private business or a combination of these. Many individuals will work in parks, incorporating study opportunities into a preservation work, often identifying changes in patterns or behaviors in animals that may adversely affect the environment or animal populations.
Common Job Titles of a Zoologist
When looking for jobs within the zoology sector, you will need to get familiar with common titles used to describe similar jobs. Below we have detailed a cross-section of the most common job titles in zoology and animal biology to help you with your quest towards a gratifying career in the field.
- Aquatic Biologist
- Wildlife Manager
- Assistant Research Scientist
- Fishery Biologist
- Environmental Consultant
- Animal Biologist
- Fish and Wildlife Biologist
- Research Biologist
- Conservation Resources Management Biologist
- Environmental Specialist
- Fisheries Biologist
- Wildlife Biologist
Top Job Duties of a Zoologist
In a recent survey by the U.S. Department of Labor, a number of wildlife biologists provided insight into their jobs. One of the most important pieces of information to come from the survey included insight into what practitioners do on a daily basis. As such, we have listed the top duties of a wildlife biologist to help you further understand the job from location to location.
- Studying a variety of animals in their natural habitats through assessments and data collection to determine the effects of environment and humans on animals & solutions to remediate problems
- Collecting data on wildlife populations and animal inventories
- Organizing experimental studies with specific animals in controlled or natural surroundings
- Consulting stakeholders and making policy recommendations on management systems for wildlife populations and wildlife habitat
- Publishing reports, while papers, and articles
- Providing presentations to trade organizations, interest groups, schools, clubs, and park programs
Top Employers of Zoologists
- State Government
- Federal Government
- Scientific & Technical Consultants
- Science Research & Development
- Local Government
States with the Highest Employment of Zoologists
- California 2,200
- Washington 1,990
- Florida 1,750
- Oregon 920
- Alaska 730
Top Paying States for Zoologists
- District of Columbia $106,820
- Maryland $94,270
- Rhode Island $86,590
- Connecticut $85,410
- Massachusetts $83,340
Salary, Job Growth and Related Fields
The average salary of zoologists and animal biologists is $60,520 per year. The primary employer of zoologists and animal biologists is the federal government through research grants. The obtaining of available grant money is competitive due to the large number of proposals put forward by individuals or groups in a given year, and competition is expected to be higher as the number of PhDs awarded increase each year. Because the grants are typically long term and budgeted for in the year the grant is awarded, grantees are less affected by recession than other professions. Individuals working in non-research positions but employed by local, state or federal governments are subject to budgetary constraints in a given year. Those who work in the private sector typically earn higher and have greater job security.
Additional Resources for Zoologists
- Zoology Association of America
- US Fish and Wildlife Services
- US National Parks
- The Wildlife Society Working Groups
- Wildlife Damage Management Working Group
- Wildlife Management Institute
- The Wildlife Society
Those interested in a degree in zoology and animal biology may also wish to consider a degree in biology, wildlife biology and animal behavior and ethology. As an additional resource, you can also read our blog post titled Top College Degrees for Animal Lovers for more information.