Zoologist: Job Duties, Employment Outlook, and Educational Requirements
Learn about zoologist careers and duties. Find out what types of degree programs are available, graduate areas of specialization and employment prospects. Schools offering Animal Care degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
What Are the Duties of a Zoologist?
Research zoologists might study the behavior of animals in their natural habitat, conduct experiments on animals in captivity or dissect animals. Research zoologists may also be wildlife educators. In addition to research, you would create presentations and displays for visitors on field trips or exhibit animals you've raised.
Other zoologist careers include zookeepers and wildlife rehabilitators. As a zookeeper, you would prepare food for and feed captive animals, monitor their health and discuss animal care with zoo visitors. As a wildlife rehabilitator, you would care for injured or ill animals and release them back into the wild. In some occupations, you might not work directly with animals. For example, you might gather data about animals for environmental impact studies or monitor emissions and effluvia around a factory to make sure they are within safe tolerance levels for animals.
What Are My Employment Prospects?
You can find employment with scientific consulting firms, industrial firms and local, state and federal agencies. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of people working as zoologists and wildlife biologists declined from 19,500 in 2008 to 17,440 as of May 2010 (www.bls.gov). Projections showed an increase in employment to 22,000 by 2018. Retirements, turnover and the number of aspiring zoologists who earn master's degrees and doctoral degrees will influence opportunities in research and postsecondary teaching.
What Degree Programs in Zoology Are Available?
You will need at least a master's degree and possibly a doctorate for career opportunities in field research. Opportunities for bachelor's degree holders include high school teaching, applied research and product development.
Master's degree programs in zoology are research-oriented at some schools and purely academically oriented at others. Doctoral programs in zoology are usually devoted to research. Zoology programs examine the physiology, evolution, behavior and ecosystem dynamics of animals. A specialization is typically required because of the broad nature of the field. Specializations can focus on particular areas of classification such as ichthyology for fish, herpetology for reptiles or ornithology for birds or on sub-disciplines such as biochemistry, genetics or microbiology.
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