Equine Scientist: Salary and Career Facts

Equine scientists perform research that can improve the nutrition, health and performance of horses. Read on to find more information about degree programs, areas of specialization and potential earnings. Schools offering Animal Care degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is an Equine Scientist?

An equine scientist is a type of animal scientist who conducts research on horses. Since animal scientists typically focus on finding the most efficient methods of animal care to increase productivity, equine scientists might focus on what is necessary to create strong, healthy horses, whether they are used for work or, as is now more common, leisure. Their studies include genetics, reproduction, growth, nutrition and diseases, and they will sometimes advise farmers on breeding, sheltering, and other forms of care for horses to maximize the animals' life expectancy, health and overall well-being.

How Do I Become an Equine Scientist?

The road to becoming an equine scientist typically begins by earning a bachelor's degree in equine science or animal science with a concentration on horses. Programs can be found at many schools around the country that provide instruction on the newest advances in equine nutrition, injury rehabilitation, exercise physiology, reproduction and genetics. Many institutions feature equine research or medical facilities, or both, where you may do labs and internships working directly with horses. You could also participate in a college's equine extension program, learning to provide community education.

As you learn more about horses, there may be an area you'd like to specialize in, such as equine disease or reproduction. At that point, you can decide to pursue a master's or doctoral degree in animal or equine science and do graduate-level research. Another option is to enter veterinary school and complete a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program. Graduates at all levels are eligible to join the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists and the Equine Science Society, though neither membership is required for professional practice.

What Could I Research?

Opportunities in horse research are varied and you may by employed by places such as a university, feed company or pharmaceutical company. Most research projects are designed to benefit horses, but the results may also provide insight into human genetics or disease. One popular research area is nutrition; studies in this area include projects that examine the effects of high and low starch levels in the diet, quality of mare's milk on foals and forage grazing.

Another common area of equine research is immunology, where projects focus on the role of chromosomes in immune strength or explore the immunity of foals that are vaccinated against West Nile virus, a disease to which horses are very susceptible. You may also study genetics, such as mapping equine conditions like swayback and parrot mouth, or horse behavior. Some researchers work only indirectly with horses, for example, on a study of the economy's impact on the horse industry.

How Much Would I Earn?

Your salary varies depending on the specific career path you chose and your level of experience. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) veterinarians in general, including equine vets, earned a median annual wage of $88,490 as of May 2015 (www.bls.gov).

If you decide to pursue a career as a horse researcher, your earnings also vary by experience, employer and level of education. As cited by the BLS, animal scientists in general made a median annual salary of $60,390 in May 2015; however, animal scientists who worked for the federal government made a mean salary of $104,080 and those who worked in the scientific research and development industry earned a mean wage of $97,380.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Other farm animals, such as cattle, pigs and sheep, also need veterinarians. Food animal veterinarians specialize in the care required for animals raised specifically for product. They consider vaccination techniques and housing for these animals. A companion animal veterinarian is a another similar career. These veterinarians typically work with cats and dogs, although they must also be prepared to perform check-ups on hamsters, hedgehogs, rabbits and birds. All veterinarians must have a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.

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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