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How to Become a Zoologist: Your Complete Career Guide
Becoming a zoologist takes hard work and dedication — but if you’re passionate about marine or wildlife biology you’ll find careers in zoology are extremely rewarding.
If working closely with different animals and understanding how they live, behave, and evolve fascinates you, then a zoology job sounds like the perfect match.
The pathway to careers in zoology is typically through a higher education science or applied science degree (like a bachelor’s degree and/or a master’s degree), but with so many job opportunities within the field, getting a start in zoology is easier than you think.
According to the Australian Government’s Labour Market Insights report, the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry is expected to grow by more than 5% in the next few years. So if you’re passionate about improving the quality of life of animals and protecting our ecosystems, why not study a degree in zoology?
What is a zoologist?
Put simply, zoologists study animals and animal behaviour in natural environments, captivity and laboratories. They use their findings to conduct group or independent research to resolve challenges for animals. Zoologists focus on conservation, wildlife management, health, growth, reproduction, and survival, and there are various areas you can specialise in, including:
An entomologist specialises in studying insects and how they interrelate with humans and the wider environment. As an entomologist, you’ll contribute to various industries, including pest control, pharmaceutical epidemiology, biological diversity, and other fields of science.
A herpetologist is someone who specialises in reptilian and amphibian species. In studying herpetology, these specialised zoologists provide care and conduct research on species like frogs, snakes, turtles, crocodiles and lizards looking at their behaviour, genetics, anatomy, health etc.
Ornithology looks at the biological and applied research on birds, including their evolution, structure to habitats and other trends. They are a specific wildlife biologist looking at their physical structure, behaviour, environmental issues and even diseases.
Ichthyology comes under the study of marine biology, where an ichthyologist is knowledgeable about all fish species, including their habitats, history, and developmental patterns. It is common for these specialised zoologists to conduct deep-sea and underwater research, therefore requiring a SCUBA certification.
A mammalogist studies a variety of mammals and wild animals/species in their natural habitats and their biology. Mammalogists typically work at zoos and reserves but can also be found in an academic setting like at museums.
Parasitology is the study of parasites and parasitic diseases. Specifically, it’s the distribution, biochemistry, physiology, molecular biology, ecology, evolution and clinical aspects of parasites, including the host response to these agents. Parasitologists focus on parasites, such as lice, mites, protozoa and worms.
A typical zoologist's salary is
What does a zoologist do?
There are a variety of responsibilities for zoologists, including:
- Researching the inter-relationships between animals and their environment by studying animals in their natural surroundings, in captivity and in laboratories
- Studying and performing experiments to identify species and gather data on growth, nutrition, reproduction, prey and predators
- Collecting and analysing biological data and specimens
- Writing papers, reports, and articles that explain the findings of research projects
- Promoting animal welfare education through various initiatives such as wildlife awareness programs
- Undertaking surveys of fauna and preparing reports for management agencies
- Educating the public on animal welfare and wildlife conservation
- Devising methods of population control, especially for vermin and pests
- Managing the population of wild animals and animals in captivity
- Preparing or supervising the preparation of laboratory reports and scientific papers
How to become a zoologist
The pathway to a career as a zoologist is simpler than you may think. A degree in zoology is available at both undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications.
The minimum education requirement in this field is a bachelor’s degree, typically a Bachelor of Science majoring in zoology — this is the most common zoologist qualification. Completing a master’s degree is optional, but it qualifies you for higher-level careers in zoology, as well as increased pay and responsibilities.
To be accepted into a Bachelor of Science for zoology, you need to have completed high school, and the zoologist prerequisites usually include English, biology, maths, environmental science, physics, and chemistry. These prerequisites vary depending on where you choose to study, and some education providers will have more flexible arrangements than others.
It is important that throughout your zoology course, you undertake a variety of practical experiences such as internships or volunteer work in wildlife parks, zoos, animal conservations, or sanctuaries. This will increase your opportunities for employment and make the transition from studying to entering the industry full-time much smoother.
To be successful in a zoologist job, there are a few skills you need to have. Employers will typically look for:
- A background in science
- Critical thinking
- Problem-solving skills
- Good written and verbal communication skills
- Ability to work independently or in a team
Beyond this, it’s your genuine passion for improving the quality of life of animals that will land you your dream job. Because at the end of the day, employers want someone on their team who wants to see animals and the wider ecosystem thrive just as much as they do.
Jobs for zoologists
After finishing your zoology degree, there are a variety of careers to pursue. Be in the thick of it all and work up close with animals in wildlife reserves and zoos — or if you prefer to be off the field, work as a professor or lecturer. If you’re highly technical and scientific, you may also enjoy working in a lab-based environment. Below is a list of zoologist jobs you can do based on which qualification you choose.
Bachelor's degree zoology jobs
- Veterinary nurse
- Animal nutritionist
- Scientific technical writer
- Marine scientist
- Environmental manager
- Research scientist
Master's degree zoology jobs
- Conservation scientist
- Natural science manager
Doctorate degree zoology jobs
- Zoology professor
Most zoologists work in government agencies across veterinary, agricultural, biotechnology and research organisations. Here are some companies you could work for:
- Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
- EPA Victoria: Environment Protection Authority
- Environment Australia
- Department of Natural Resources and Environment
- Parks Victoria
- Agriculture Victoria
- Ecology Australia
- SLR Consulting
What is an animal carer and how can you become one?
Learn everything there is to know about this rewarding career.
Other career opportunities
Being a zoologist is not the only career path that allows you to work with different animal species and their natural habitats.
There are plenty of short courses and certificates out there to complete if you don’t think a zoologist job is exactly right for you, but know this field is calling. There are also many entry-level positions at zoos, vets, ranges etc. that offer practical experience to climb your way up to the job you want.
At Training.com.au, we offer a few short courses that’ll give you the right skills and knowledge to work in related fields, similar to a zoologist job. These zoology certificates offer career outcomes that are a stepping stone to entering the zoology industry, including:
- Zoo assistant
- Wildlife reserve ranger
- National parks ranger
- Wildlife manager
- Pest control
- Captive breeding
- Veterinary services
- Wildlife officer
- Aquarium assistant
- Animal carer
From Retail Manager to Dog Groomer: An Inside Look into the Animal Care Industry
Carla Muscat spent eight years working in retail before a life-changing accident forced her to pursue a new career. Now, with her own dog grooming business, she explains what it’s really like to work with our furry friends.
Zoology is a broad field to explore and offers life-changing experiences where you get to conduct research, work with a variety of animal populations and make a real difference.
Help tackle the world’s biggest issues like climate change, food security, biodiversity, and endangered species, and join the mission of protecting the health of our ecosystems by studying a zoology course today.
Explore the animal world with Learning Online, and equip yourself with the best professional skills to harness your passion and become an animal care expert!
At Learning Online, we deliver comprehensive animal care certificates, developed by industry professionals, to help people get a head-start and build exciting careers.
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