Guide to Pursuing a Career as a Zoologist

Guide to Pursuing a Career as a Zoologist

Are you passionate about animals and their habitats? Do you dream of working with exotic wildlife or studying endangered species? If so, pursuing a career as a zoologist may be the perfect path for you. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the steps you need to take to become a zoologist, the education and training required, job opportunities in the field, and tips for success in this rewarding and fulfilling career. Whether you are just starting out or looking to advance your career in zoology, this guide will provide you with all the information you need to achieve your goals.

Education and Training for Zoologists

When pursuing a career as a zoologist, it is essential to have the right education and training to excel in this field. Here are the typical educational paths for aspiring zoologists:

Bachelor’s Degree in Zoology or Related Field

A Bachelor’s degree in Zoology or a related field, such as biology or wildlife biology, is the first step towards becoming a zoologist. This undergraduate degree provides a solid foundation in the principles of zoology, ecology, animal behavior, and evolution. Coursework may also include genetics, physiology, and conservation biology.

To stand out in this competitive field, students are encouraged to gain hands-on experience through internships, research projects, or volunteering at zoos, wildlife rehabilitation centers, or research labs. Building a strong network and seeking mentorship from experienced professionals can also be beneficial for career advancement.

Master’s Degree or PhD in Zoology for Advanced Positions

While a Bachelor’s degree can qualify individuals for entry-level positions as zoologists, pursuing a Master’s degree or a PhD can open up more advanced career opportunities. Graduate programs offer specialized coursework in areas such as animal physiology, ecology, taxonomy, and conservation biology.

Many zoologists choose to focus their research on specific animal species or habitats, leading to opportunities for publication in scientific journals and presenting findings at conferences. Advanced degrees can also lead to teaching positions at colleges and universities, as well as leadership roles in research institutions or government agencies.

Overall, a combination of formal education, hands-on experience, and continuous learning is key to a successful career as a zoologist. By staying current with advancements in the field and actively participating in research projects, aspiring zoologists can make meaningful contributions to the study and conservation of wildlife.

Skills and Qualities Needed for Zoologists

Passion for Wildlife and Conservation

Zoologists are required to have a deep passion for wildlife and conservation in order to succeed in this field. A genuine love for animals and the environment is essential for those pursuing a career as a zoologist. This passion will drive them to work towards the protection and preservation of various species and their habitats.

Analytical and Critical Thinking Skills

Zoologists need to possess strong analytical and critical thinking skills to effectively study and understand animal behavior, biology, and ecosystems. They must be able to analyze complex data and draw meaningful conclusions from their research. These skills are crucial for making informed decisions and recommendations for wildlife conservation efforts.

Strong Communication and Research Skills

Effective communication and research skills are essential for zoologists to convey their findings and recommendations to colleagues, policymakers, and the public. Zoologists must be able to write reports, publish research papers, and give presentations that are clear, concise, and scientifically accurate. Additionally, strong research skills are needed to design and conduct experiments, collect data, and analyze results in order to advance our understanding of the natural world.

Job Opportunities for Zoologists

As a zoologist, there are several exciting job opportunities available in various sectors. Some of the most common job opportunities for zoologists include working in zoos and aquariums, wildlife rehabilitation centers, and research institutions and universities.

Zoos and Aquariums

Working in zoos and aquariums is a popular career choice for zoologists. In these settings, zoologists have the opportunity to work directly with a wide variety of animal species, educating visitors about conservation efforts, conducting research, and helping to care for the animals. Zoologists in zoos and aquariums may work as animal care specialists, researchers, educators, or curators.

Wildlife Rehabilitation Centers

Another rewarding job opportunity for zoologists is working in wildlife rehabilitation centers. In these centers, zoologists help injured or orphaned wild animals recover and return to their natural habitats. Zoologists in wildlife rehabilitation centers may provide medical care, behavioral enrichment, and training for animals before releasing them back into the wild.

Research Institutions and Universities

For zoologists interested in scientific research, pursuing a career in research institutions or universities can be a great option. In these settings, zoologists conduct research on various aspects of animal biology, behavior, and conservation. They may publish their findings in scientific journals, teach classes, and mentor students pursuing degrees in zoology or related fields.

Overall, the field of zoology offers a wide range of job opportunities for those passionate about animals and conservation. Whether working in zoos and aquariums, wildlife rehabilitation centers, or research institutions, zoologists play a crucial role in studying and protecting the diverse species that share our planet.

Salary and Career Advancement for Zoologists

As a zoologist, you can expect a competitive salary that reflects the specialized skills and education required for this career. The salary range for zoologists can vary depending on factors such as experience, education, location, and employer.

Average Salary Range for Zoologists

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for zoologists was $63,420 in May 2020. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $41,150, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $102,830. Entry-level positions may offer lower salaries, but with experience and advanced education, zoologists can earn higher salaries.

Career Advancement Opportunities

Zoologists have various opportunities for career advancement, such as moving into supervisory or management positions, conducting research in specialized fields, or teaching at universities. With experience and expertise, zoologists can also become consultants for government agencies, conservation organizations, or private companies. Networking within the field and staying updated on advancements in zoology can help zoologists advance in their careers.

Specialization and Continuing Education

Zoologists can choose to specialize in specific areas of study, such as marine biology, conservation biology, or wildlife ecology. Specializing in a particular field can open up more career opportunities and allow zoologists to focus on their areas of interest. Continuing education through workshops, conferences, and advanced degrees can also help zoologists stay current in their field and advance their careers. Pursuing certifications or licenses in specialized areas can further enhance career prospects for zoologists.


Becoming a zoologist is a rewarding career path for those who are passionate about animals and the environment. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can pursue a successful career in zoology. From obtaining the necessary education and experience to specializing in a specific area of interest, there are many opportunities available in this field. Whether you dream of working in a zoo, conducting research in the field, or educating others about conservation efforts, a career as a zoologist offers a variety of fulfilling and impactful opportunities. So, if you have a love for animals and a desire to make a difference, consider pursuing a career as a zoologist.