Education Career Articles

Connect Facebook Connect Twitter Connect Google+ Connect Pinterest Connect Stumbleupon

How to Become a Zoologist

Majors Overview January 14, 2013

Zoologists study living organisms and focuses specifically on animals. Their areas of study may include specific species of animals or their behaviors, population interactions, and several species within a certain ecosystem. Their work involves the collection and analysis of data in outdoor environments and laboratories. While some zoologists select research work or become teachers in universities, many others seek work with federal agencies that proclaim concern for wildlife, but some seek employment at zoos.

Schools offer both undergraduate and graduate degree programs majoring in zoology. Entry level jobs require job seekers to possess a minimum qualification of a bachelor degree; however, an aspiring zoologist who seeks a higher-level position with higher wages and responsibilities should aim for a master degree. Positions that involve development of plans for management or conservation and performance of original research require a Ph.D. degree from aspiring job seekers. Students enrolled in degree programs can gain hands on experience by completing research and participating in courses that form part of the program. The key skills a zoologist needs for a successful career in the field include skills in areas such as writing, active learning, decision making, complex problem solving, critical thinking, and science. Prospective zoologists are also expected to have computer skills, including knowledge of scientific software used in the analysis of data; in addition, word processing software and spreadsheets (such as MS-Word and Excel) (sources: O Net OnLine; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).

In this article, we will look at the various steps a prospective zoologist should take in order to pursue their career.

Stage One: Completing a Bachelor’s Degree Program in Zoology

At some schools, students enrolled in bachelor degree courses can major in zoology while at other schools; students may not be able to specialize in the field. Mathematics, physics, chemistry and general biology are among the core subjects taught in most bachelor degree programs. In some programs, organismic and molecular biology are treated as separate specializations. Prospective zoologists can also consider specializations in zoo and aquarium science, animal behavior, genetics, ecology, or marine biology. These specializations are based on students selection for specific elective courses. A candidate who has completed a bachelor degree program can aspire to be an entry level wildlife biologist or zoologist. Once they have gained some experience, the candidate can try for a higher-level position. Organizations that employ entry level wildlife biologists and zoologists sometimes involve these employees in research work.  If a candidate wants to perform independent and original research work; they will need to complete a graduate degree program.

Participation in internships and volunteer work will not only earn college credit, but allow students to network in work settings that will be beneficial later in their career. It may be difficult to get an internship; students may have to settle for volunteer work initially that could prepare them for possible internship participation. Participants in some internship programs may receive a paycheck or stipend depending on the company.

Stage Two: Getting Employed with a Bachelor Degree

This is an optional step because some may choose to enter a graduate program immediately after graduating from a bachelor degree program. This is an option for those who do not want to wait for a job till they have completed a master degree program. Gaining professional connections along with experience are advantages while doing some work in the field before seeking admission to a graduate degree program. Some may choose to continue working rather than go on to earn a master degree. While zoos are potential employers for zoologists, these professionals are different from zookeepers. Zookeepers take care of animals in a zoo and focus on feeding them, a zoologist’s work involves research on animals. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service among other federal agencies are other potential employers of zoologists, as are conservation organizations.

Stage Three: Completing a Graduate Degree Program in Zoology

Coursework related to graduate and doctoral degree programs in zoology generally cover similar topics as a bachelor degree program. However, bachelor degree programs are not as advanced as graduate programs, which are delivered through a seminar-like format and place greater emphasis on research. Students are given thesis and non-thesis choices in a graduate degree program; the non-thesis program will involve taking an exam instead of participating in a research project. A doctoral program focuses on a thesis project where original research has to be completed and recorded and written about by students. They also have to make an oral defense about the research by addressing faculty members and peers. Some specific research topics could focus on foraging behavior of wolf spiders, or the effect of nutrient availability on phytoplankton communities.

Stage Four: Seeking Work with a Graduate Degree

Once a student has completed a graduate degree program in zoology, they may apply for a higher-level position offering a bigger paycheck and involving more research opportunities. Doctoral degree holders can target research and teaching jobs. Doctoral research in zoology can revolve around providing greater depth of knowledge about an animal species or focus on development of new plans and ideas relating to the conservation of some other species.

Searching Searching ...

Matching School Ads
1 Program(s) Found
Fortis Institute , Grand Prairie
  • Gain Knowledge and Skills While You Earn Your Nursing Degree at Fortis!
  • Accredited
  • Financial Aid
1 Program(s) Found
  • Ready to earn your business degree? If you identify with at least one of the statements below, GCU could be a good fit for you!
  • I have worked in the business field for a number of years and want to further my education in order to qualify for promotions, leadership positions, and salary increases.
  • I am graduating from high school and am interested in pursuing a career in a business field, but I first need the skills experience.
  • I am interested in a Bachelor's, Master's or Doctoral degree in my specialized business area of focus.
  • I want flexible course offerings, such as the option of 100% online, evening or campus classes.
  • I need a university that provides quality educational offerings through academic excellence and real-world relevance. Does this sound like you? Apply today!
Good for Working Adults
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
1 Program(s) Found
  • Earn your Master of Public Health Online from GW in 12 months.
  • GRE waivers available for qualified applicants.
  • Advance your career in a range of industries, including epidemiology, public health and biostatistics.
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
4 Program(s) Found
  • Recognized as a Top 20 Best Online Bachelor’s Program by U.S. News & World Report in 2016.
  • Online, campus-based, and evening courses offered in 95 areas of study, including Business, Nursing, Psychology, & more.
  • Endorsed by G.I. Jobs and Military Advanced Education magazine as a Military Friendly School in 2015.
  • Features small class sizes, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 23 to 1.
  • 88% of Regent University students receive financial aid, with $18 million awarded in institutional scholarships & aid each year.
  • Online Courses
1 Program(s) Found
  • Designated a 2015 Military Friendly School by Victory Media for the 4th consecutive year.
  • Listed on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll in 2013, for the sixth consecutive year
  • Links students to hundreds of training opportunities (beyond their traditional internships and practicum) at their many “partner agencies” in each of their local communities.
  • Accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WUSCUC).
  • Online Courses
  • Financial Aid
  • Education Connection is a 100% Free College Matching Service used by 50,000 People Daily.
  • Get Matched to Psychology, Counseling, Human Services, Organizational, and Clinical Psychology Degree Programs and MORE.
  • View Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate and Graduate Certificate Degree Programs in Psychology and Human Services Near YOU!
  • Accredited and Flexible Psychology Degree Programs to Fit Your Time and Budget. Use Our Matching Service - It's Easy and FREE!
  • Online Courses

Searching Searching ...

Matching School Ads
1 Program(s) Found
  • Ready to earn your business degree? If you identify with at least one of the statements below, GCU could be a good fit for you!
  • I have worked in the business field for a number of years and want to further my education in order to qualify for promotions, leadership positions, and salary increases.
  • I am graduating from high school and am interested in pursuing a career in a business field, but I first need the skills experience.
  • I am interested in a Bachelor's, Master's or Doctoral degree in my specialized business area of focus.
  • I want flexible course offerings, such as the option of 100% online, evening or campus classes.
  • I need a university that provides quality educational offerings through academic excellence and real-world relevance. Does this sound like you? Apply today!
Good for Working Adults
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
1 Program(s) Found
  • Earn your Master of Public Health Online from GW in 12 months.
  • GRE waivers available for qualified applicants.
  • Advance your career in a range of industries, including epidemiology, public health and biostatistics.
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
1 Program(s) Found
  • Recognized as a Top 20 Best Online Bachelor’s Program by U.S. News & World Report in 2016.
  • Online, campus-based, and evening courses offered in 95 areas of study, including Business, Nursing, Psychology, & more.
  • Endorsed by G.I. Jobs and Military Advanced Education magazine as a Military Friendly School in 2015.
  • Features small class sizes, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 23 to 1.
  • 88% of Regent University students receive financial aid, with $18 million awarded in institutional scholarships & aid each year.
  • Online Courses
1 Program(s) Found
  • Designated a 2015 Military Friendly School by Victory Media for the 4th consecutive year.
  • Listed on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll in 2013, for the sixth consecutive year
  • Links students to hundreds of training opportunities (beyond their traditional internships and practicum) at their many “partner agencies” in each of their local communities.
  • Accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WUSCUC).
  • Online Courses
  • Financial Aid
  • Education Connection is a 100% Free College Matching Service used by 50,000 People Daily.
  • Get Matched to Psychology, Counseling, Human Services, Organizational, and Clinical Psychology Degree Programs and MORE.
  • View Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate and Graduate Certificate Degree Programs in Psychology and Human Services Near YOU!
  • Accredited and Flexible Psychology Degree Programs to Fit Your Time and Budget. Use Our Matching Service - It's Easy and FREE!
  • Online Courses

Login to your account

Can't remember your Password ?

Register for this site!