Zoologist: Job Duties, Employment Outlook, and Educational Requirements

A zoologist job description includes the various zoologist duties that enable these scientists to study unique animal species and their habitats. Here we discuss zoologist jobs, the zoologist job outlook, and how to become a zoologist. Schools offering Biology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Zoologist Job Description

Zoologists are life scientists who study various kinds of wildlife and their natural ecosystems. Zoologist job duties often include planning and implementing different kinds of experiments and research projects to learn more about the characteristics of a specific animal species. Other zoologist duties may include:

  • Collecting data and/or specimens
  • Managing wildlife populations
  • Developing breeding programs and other conservation programs
  • Writing and presenting research findings
  • Identifying at-risk species
  • Studying the behavior, reproduction, movement patterns, and more of a species
  • Observing human impact on ecosystems and species

Zoologist job requirements often mandate that these professionals spend time in the field, a lab, and/or an office. Most of these scientists work full time and usually hold abnormal business hours, especially when conducting fieldwork. Fieldwork may also require extensive travel, time outdoors, strenuous activity, and exposure to different climates.

Zoologist Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the job outlook for zoologists and wildlife biologists was expected to grow 8% from 2016 to 2026. This growth is about as fast as the national average and is expected in part due to the growing need for zoologists to study the impact of the growing human population on animal species and their ecosystems.

How to Become a Zoologist

Zoologists must have at least a bachelor's degree, usually in a life science, like zoology, wildlife biology, or ecology. While there are not many schools with online life science degree programs due to the hands-on nature of the field, there are plenty of on-campus programs in life science available at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

A bachelor's degree in zoology or a related field is typically acceptable for entry-level positions as a zoologist, but most of these scientists need a master's degree for advanced positions and/or a doctorate to conduct independent research. Bachelor's, master's, and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programs are available in zoology and may cover topics like:

  • Marine science
  • Wildlife ecology
  • Plant science
  • Microbiology
  • Animal biology
  • Parasitology
  • Entomology
  • Limnology

It is also important that through these programs and/or internship and other research opportunities that aspiring zoologists gain fieldwork and research experience. Some zoologists may choose to specialize in a particular area, such as marine biology, and attend a marine biology school to earn their degrees. They may also pick up different outdoor skills, such as driving various kinds of machinery.

Zoologist Salary

PayScale.com reported that the median annual salary for zoologists was $51,906, as of July 2019. This median was expected to increase with some work experience, as zoologists with 5 to 9 years of experience made a median salary of $53,000.

The BLS groups zoologists with wildlife biologists and reported that these scientists made an average annual salary of $67,760 in 2018. Most of these professionals worked for state governments, excluding schools and hospitals, and made an average of $58,120. Zoologists and wildlife biologists who worked in the computer systems design and related services industry made the highest average salary of $95,580 for the same year. Other high-paying industries for these scientists included the federal government and the management of companies and enterprises.

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