Animal Scientist: Salary and Career Facts

Animal science encompasses a variety of activities. Animal scientists may perform cutting-edge research in clinical pharmaceutical or food production trials. They may advise farmers, ranchers and food manufacturers on safe and cost-effective breeding, nutrition and food processing techniques. Read below for more information on career options for animal scientists, job duties, required training, education programs and median salaries. Schools offering Animal Care degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Animal Scientist?

Animal scientists study the manufacturing, production and processing of animal products. They're responsible for evaluating current methods of food production and devising new ones, typically with an eye towards increasing the efficiency of production cost, speed or sanitation. These scientists also understand cross breeding and use techniques to improve the overall health of the animals. Check out the table below to learn how to enter this career field.

Degree Required Master's degree or above for animal science research
Education Field of Study Animal science
Key Duties Run clinical trials, research drug effects on animals, work in food processing, advise people in agriculture, farming and food processing
Job Growth (2014-2024) 7%*
Median Salary (2015) $60,390*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Are My Career Options in Animal Science?

As an animal scientist, you may study living animals being used in clinical trials or livestock being used for the manufacturing of food products like steak and ground beef.

Animal scientists' exact job titles and working environments may vary widely based on exact area of interest. If you're studying animal experiments, you may work in a research laboratory, where you'll be responsible for observing the effects of drugs, vaccines or other products being tested.

If you work with animal food products, you may work in food processing or housing facilities, where you'll observe conditions and offer advice on how to improve products. Some animal scientists advise ranchers, farmers or product manufacturing companies on a freelance or consultant basis.

What Kind of Training Do I Need?

You can earn a Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Master of Science (M.S.) or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Animal Science. Degree programs of all levels may offer several specific areas of concentration, such as animal nutrition, food science or microbiology. The level of education you'll need to become an animal scientist may vary depending on the exact line of work you want to pursue. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that in most cases, a master's or doctoral degree is needed to go into the research end of animal science (www.bls.gov).

What Will I Learn in a Degree Program?

Undergraduate programs will educate you in the general tenets of animal health sciences. You may take foundational courses in animal anatomy and physiology, microbiology, nutrition, genetics and disease control. You'll also learn the best methods for breeding, housing and feeding various forms of livestock. Last but not least, you'll learn specific food production techniques for beef, swine, poultry and dairy products.

In a master's or doctoral degree program, you'll take laboratory-based science courses, such as immunobiology, organic chemistry, genetic engineering and reproductive biotechnology. You'll also be required to take several courses in specific areas of animal science research, like vaccinations, breeding, endocrinology and energy metabolism.

Master's and doctoral degree programs require completion of a thesis or dissertation, respectively, both of which must include original research. Both master's and doctoral degree programs often require at least one clinical practicum. Doctoral programs may also require a residency at an animal research, breeding or processing facility.

What Kind of Salary Might I Earn?

Average salary ranges for animal scientists vary depending on the exact line of work. As of May 2015, the BLS reported a median annual salary of $60,390 for animal scientists, which was classified as a research occupation (www.bls.gov). Salary information website Salary.com reported that the 25th-75th percentile annual salary range for animal scientists was $43,455-$54,665.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Other career options that are similar to animal scientists include zoologists, wildlife biologists and microbiologists. Zoologists and wildlife biologists study animals and wildlife. They examine how animals act in their ecosystem, as well as their characteristics and behaviors. Microbiologists study microorganisms like bacteria, fungi and parasites. These careers also require a bachelor's degree.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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