Learn about ethology and understand the effects of biology on behavior. See what your career choices are in this field and what education is required to obtain a job. Find out about areas of academic specialization available to you and what people in this career field earn.

Is Ethology for Me?

Career Overview

Ethology is the biological study of behavior, both in animals and humans. Job titles for those working in ethology fields include psychologist, teacher, researcher, animal trainer, zoologist and veterinarian. Depending on the job, you may work in a kennel, stable, zoo, veterinary clinic, school or lab.

Employment Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for a few different ethology careers was positive for the period 2012-2022 ( Employment of veterinarians was expected to increase by 12%, while that of animal trainers was projected to grow 15%. Predicted job growth for zoologists and wildlife biologists was slower than average, however, with 5% growth projected during the same period. If you want to focus on human ethology, you might like to know that the expected employment growth of psychologists was 12%.

As of May 2012, the yearly median salary for psychologists was $69,280. Veterinarians earned a median annual wage of $84,460, and zoologists and wildlife biologists made $57,710. Animal trainers took home a median yearly salary of $25,270, all per the BLS.

How Can I Work in Ethology?

Undergraduate Education

Many ethology-related jobs require an advanced degree; however, you may qualify for some jobs, such as animal trainer, with a high school diploma and on-the-job training. In this career, you might train pets to be obedient, show horses to carry riders or dogs to assist blind individuals.

If you'd like to pursue formal education, you might begin with a bachelor's degree in animal behavior. Coursework may cover topics like animal cognition, neuroethology and behavioral ecology. Classes focusing on behavior among primates, birds or insects may also be available. If your school doesn't offer this major, you may find a bachelor's degree in zoology, biology or psychology to be a helpful starting point. Courses in these programs might include chemistry, calculus and neuroscience. If you can't major in ethology, you might at least be able to enroll in some courses; these may cover how genetics, migration, predation and cognitive processes affect animal behavior.

Graduate Education

If you'd like to attain an ethology-related graduate degree, you can pursue a master's degree or Ph.D. in zoology or psychology; some previous training in the biological sciences and social sciences, respectively, is typically required for entrance. With a science-related undergraduate education, you could also go after a Ph.D. in Veterinary Science or a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM).

Some of the courses you may take as a zoology graduate student are ecology, ichthyology, biogeography and animal physiology. In an advanced-level program in psychology, you may be able to choose from animal behavior, clinical psychology and developmental psychology concentration options.

To become a veterinarian, you'll need to earn a DVM. Coursework may cover both biomedical and clinical aspects of animal care, covering topics such as bacteriology, parasitology, immunology, anesthesiology, cardiology and diagnostic imaging. If you're more interested in conducting research or educating others on animal behavior, you could pursue a Ph.D. and seek a career in academia.

Related Articles for Ethology

  • Ethology Majors

    With a degree in ethology, you'll use psychological and scientific approaches to study the behavior of animals and how they respond to their environment. Learn about ethology majors, coursework and career options.
  • Ethology Graduate Programs

    Ethologists study how animals communicate, learn and socialize. Find out what graduate programs are available in this field and specializations within them, what courses you will study, as well as career options in this field.
  • Ethology Degree Programs and Schools

    Ethology is the study of an animal's behavior in its natural surroundings. Find out what degree programs are available, see what you'll study, and learn about possible careers in the field of ethology.

View More Articles

Related Videos

  • What is CAT Scan Technology? - Video

    CAT Scan Technology, or CT Scan Technology as it is also known, is an x-ray technique used to capture images of the body. Students who study this medical technology can work as CAT Scan Technicians or CT Technologists. Learn more about careers in CAT Scan Technology here.
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • The George Washington University

    The George Washington University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at The George Washington University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Trident University

    Trident University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Trident University:

    • Doctoral

    Online Programs Available

  • Penn Foster

    Penn Foster responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Penn Foster:

    Online Programs Available

  • Fortis College

    Fortis College responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Fortis College:

    • Certificates

    Campus Locations:

    • New Jersey: Wayne
  • Penn Foster High School

    Penn Foster High School responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Penn Foster High School:

    Online Programs Available

  • Muskingum University

    Campus Locations:

    • Ohio: New Concord
  • Hampshire College

    Campus Locations:

    • Massachusetts: Amherst
  • Franklin and Marshall College

    Campus Locations:

    • Pennsylvania: Lancaster
  • Southwestern University

    Campus Locations:

    • Texas: Georgetown
  • Carroll University

    Campus Locations:

    • Wisconsin: Waukesha