How Do You Become a Zoologist?

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Individuals who enjoy the outdoors and would like to study animals often wonder what it would take to become a zoologist. Zoologists study animals and animal behaviors as well as the environment surrounding them. Because a zoologist’s work may take him or her to remote wilderness areas or indoor zoos, the individual must be willing to move around. There is also education that’s required to become a zoologist. Here are all the facts for aspiring zoologists.

Education Requirements to Become a Zoologist

To become a zoologist, you must typically earn at least a bachelor’s degree in zoology, wildlife biology, ecology or a related field. One example might be a bachelor’s degree in biology with a concentration in zoology or wildlife biology. A bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement to become a zoologist, but many choose to advance their education and pursue a graduate degree. It typically takes four years to complete the bachelor’s degree program.

Many zoology students find internships extremely helpful towards obtaining hands-on training while still earning the degree. As an intern, you might collect and analyze biological data to learn the environmental effects of the past and present use of water or land habitats. Completed internships are also more impressive to potential employers.

Earning a master’s degree in zoology or wildlife biology will qualify you for aoology of a more scientific or investigation nature. Master’s degree programs generally take two years more than the bachelor’s degree. The zoologist who wants a career performing research or teaching at a university would typically need to earn a Ph.D.

Coursework to Become a Zoologist

Students in a zoologist program take many science courses such as anatomy, cellular biology, chemistry, ecology, physics, botany and wildlife management. They may also take certain courses if they’re focusing their studies on a specific group of animals, such as birds or reptiles, etc. Because of the complex data analysis performed by zoologists, they should also have strong background in statistics and math.

Zoologists should also be proficient in computers because they use a lot of different computer software as they perform their work. Students learn about the diseases, origins, genetics and life processes of wildlife and animals in general. Zoology programs may offer the student the option of specializing in wildlife research or management.

Career Outlook for Zoologists

Zoology is a field where, like many others, better positions become available when the candidate gains experience or advanced education. Immediately after earning the bachelor’s degree, a candidate might find positions as an animal care specialist, zoo assistant, environmental specialist or research associate. Earning an advanced degree or obtaining work experience may result in a position as a wildlife biologist or senior zookeeper.

Zoologists are expected to experience an employment growth of eight percent between the years 2016 and 2026 according to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report. The BLS also reported that zoologists earned an average annual wage of $66,250 as of May 2017. Zoologist wages ranged from as low as $39,000 to more than $99,700.

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Working in the field of zoology can be exciting and definitely filled with variety. It also offers the opportunities to help animals while learning more about them. If you enjoy learning about animals and think this career might be a good fit, you may way want to begin the process to become a zoologist.