What Is the Typical Salary of a Zoologist?

Research what it takes to become a zoologist. Learn about their salaries, job duties and education requirements to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Biology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Zoologist ?

Zoologists work with animals to learn about their behavior, physiology and environment. They may carry out their work in the animals' natural habitat or work with animal specimens in a laboratory setting. Zoologists usually focus on one type of animal, such as mammals or reptiles, or a particular species, such as spotted owls. They generate findings by executing experimental studies. Not only do they examine how creatures function and interact with one another, but how human activity impacts them as well. They design programs to foster healthy breeding, and present conservation plans to the general public. Take a look at the following chart for an overview of how to enter this field.

Degree Required Bachelor's, master's and/or PhD
Education Field of Study Zoology, animal conservation
Key Skills Carrying out field research, sometimes in remote areas; conducting lab research; knowledge of animal behavior, classification, development
Job Growth (2014-2024) 4% for zoologists and wildlife biologists*
Average Salary (2015) $64,230 for zoologists and wildlife biologists*

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

What Can I Expect to Make as a Zoologist?

Salaries for zoologists vary widely by state and employer. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2015, the average annual salary of a zoologist was $64,230 (www.bls.gov). The highest employment levels were in state and federal government agencies, scientific research and scientific consulting. The annual average salary rates in these industries were:

  • State governments - $55,400
  • Federal government - $80,710
  • Scientific research - $65,920
  • Scientific consulting services - $61,670

During the same year, states with the highest concentrations of zoologists were Alaska, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana; however, with average salaries between $57,710 and $74,760, these were not among the top-paying states. The states with the highest average annual salaries were:

  • Maryland - $93,070
  • Connecticut - $91,240
  • Rhode Island - $84,980
  • Massachusetts - $84,120

What Would My Job Duties Be?

A zoologist is a scientist who studies the animal kingdom, focusing on animal behavior, classification and development. As a zoologist, you observe animal behavior in the wild, study the animal's environment and conduct experiments. You'll likely study one type of animal, such as mammals, reptiles or birds. You'll work in the field, often in animals' natural habitats, and sometimes in remote locations. Whether you choose to study living animals in their natural habitats or with deceased animals in a laboratory setting, you'll study solutions to habitat, health and social issues surrounding a species.

You'll usually be referred to as a scientist who studies a particular species or type of animal and not as a zoologist. For instance, herpetologists study reptiles while ornithologists study birds.

What Education Will I Need to Enter this Field?

To become a zoologist, you may need a bachelor's, master's or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in an area such as zoology or animal conservation. In such programs, you'll study sciences such as botany, vertebrae morphology, biology, zoology, mammalogy, parasitology and ecology. Many programs feature courses that allow you to look at the behaviors and evolution of animals throughout history.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Some related careers are conservation science/forestry and agricultural/food science. Conservation scientists/foresters focus on the quality of land and natural resources. Agricultural/food scientists are concerned with the quality of our food supply. They complete research and use their findings to enhance crop capacity. A bachelor's degree is needed for these careers.

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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