If you are studying in the Natural Sciences field, I’m sure zoology must have crossed your mind at some point or another. Most of us go into this field because of the animals, but once all the studying is done, where do you go from there? Below are some examples of the types of jobs in zoology.
Zoology is a diverse field, and careers range from fieldwork to laboratory work and education. Zoology itself is a generalized field, so once you have completed a course in it, you can specialize in a field of interest. Most of these jobs pertain to natural science, research and education.
A field that is almost as vast in career opportunities as in what is studied is not always the easiest place to start looking for a job. Sometimes it helps to know what direction you want to go in your career. So you need to ask yourself, what aspect of zoology resonates best with me? How much do I want to earn? And do I like lab work, fieldwork, or education best?
Industries In The United States That Will Hire A Qualified Zoologist
Zoology falls into the category of Natural Sciences. This field of study is linked to many similar scientific fields including, environmental science, biology, and veterinary science, to name a few.
Since zoology is an “umbrella” term, there can be a great deal of specialization within the field.
Fundamentally zoology is a stepping stone into the greater field of natural science, where only your ambition limits you in pursuing an interesting, engaging, and fulfilling career line.
In the United States, there is a growing demand for zoologists and other natural scientists. The entry requirement into the field is a Bachelor’s Degree. However, to remain competitive, and depending on where you would like your career to go, it is recommended to pursue postgraduate qualifications, such as a Master’s Degree and a Ph.D., in your respective field of interest.
The U.S. Bureau Of Labor Statistics conducted a survey and discovered that a zoologist’s average salary in 2020 was $66,350 per year ($31.90 per hour).
According to the Bureau, as a starting point in your career, you can expect to earn approximately $41,720 annually. This is with the minimum requirements of a BSc in Zoology and no work experience.
As you continue your studies and build up experience, you will generally earn more.
Zoology Jobs: Potential Employers In The United States
Once qualified, certain organizations become your prospective employers. These include:
- State Government
- Federal Government
- Scientific Services (including management, technical, and consulting)
- Educational Institutes (Universities, colleges, and schools)
- Research and development (including laboratories and private companies)
Note: Although the following sections make a differentiation between “Fieldwork, Lab work Office work, and Education,” it is important to remember that in any of these careers, there will be overlap.
This is especially true as you progress further into your career and start to take on greater responsibilities.
Examples And Breakdown Of Careers In Zoology
The field of natural sciences and zoology is immense. There are many hundreds of different careers and specializations out there.
Below are some examples of the more frequently found jobs that those who complete a BSc in zoology pursue.
Zoology Careers: Animal nutritionist
Animal nutrition is becoming an increasingly important science. As soil degradation continues and GMO’s are increasingly being used, it is imperative for farmers, breeders, and other animal owners, to ensure their animals are receiving the correct nutrition.
As an animal nutritionist, you will:
- Formulate balanced food diets for specific animal species according to their nutritional needs. This is done by understanding the specific species’ calorie requirements, physical performance needs, nutritional deficiencies, and other needs.
- Through the use of body conditioning scores, nutritionists can adjust and correct animal diets as needed.
- Nutritionists engage in cross-discipline co-operation with veterinarians, zookeepers, managers, and animal professionals for research and teaching.
There is also a large degree of specialization in animal nutrition. Some people choose to work with livestock, some with wildlife, and some with domestic animals.
Animal Nutritionist: Field, Lab And Office Work
As an animal nutritionist, there will be different elements to your job. This would include:
- Evaluating animals through the use of body score indices.
- Meeting with clients to determine their needs, as well as follow-up evaluations.
- Working in a lab to research products and their effects.
- Developing legislation (especially in a government capacity).
Zoology Careers: Aquatic Biologist (Marine And Freshwater)
A Marine or freshwater biologist studies the relationships between plants, animals, and their environment in freshwater (rivers, lakes, dams) or ocean settings. They also study the effects of certain chemicals on these ecosystems. This career has a large focus on research.
You will be able to start this career line with a bachelor’s degree, but further studies into a master’s or Ph.D. are recommended to pursue this field.
There is a huge amount of scope for specialization in this field. Aside from specifically looking into freshwater or marine ecosystems, you can also pursue a career in oceanography or even eco-toxicology.
Aquatic Biologist: Field, Lab And Office Work
As an Aquatic Biologist, you may find yourself in many weird and wonderful places, including:
- On a research vessel following marine animals and collecting data.
- In a lab processing collected samples.
- Conducting water quality surveys for drinking water.
- Pollution surveys.
- Assisting with the creation of legislation for fishing, boating, and pollution.
- Report writing on findings.
Zoology Careers: Ecologist
An ecologist studies the interactions between plants, animals, and their environment, generally in a terrestrial setting.
Ecology, however, is also a broad “umbrella” name, whereby there is plenty of room for specialization.
Ecologists are also generally focused on research, data collection, dissemination, and report writing.
A large focus for ecologists is providing good scientific data for managers to manage their land and resources effectively.
Further studies are required to progress in this field, but to start a BSc is sufficient.
Ecologist: Field, Lab And Office Work
As an ecologist, you will spend your time almost equally between these three.
Some work-related requirements of an ecologist include:
- Data collection from the field (population densities of plants and animals, soil samples, fire mapping, and vegetative succession, to name a few).
- Time spent in the office analyzing the data that was collected to draw conclusions.
- Updating management plans.
- Meeting with managers, colleagues, and others in the scientific community.
- Writing research papers and reports.
- Laboratory work to identify chemicals, their effects, as well as theoretical models.
Zoology Careers: Environmental Consultant
Environmental consultants provide a scientific service for government, the public sector, NGOs, and other interested and affected parties, to name a few.
The purpose of an environmental consultant is to provide sound ecological data and advice within the regulatory framework of the country/state they are working in.
Some of these areas of expertise include:
- Green energy and other initiatives
- Environmental disasters
- Pollution/waste disposal
- Compliance with legislation
- Quality assessments of water, air, and soil
Environmental Consultant: Field, Lab And Office Work
An environmental consultant will spend a lot of time in the field as well as in the office. There will, however, not be much time spent in a lab.
Some of the tasks they conduct include:
- Meeting with clients regarding certain projects.
- Engaging with stakeholders, including private sectors and governments.
- Collecting samples and data from in situ to be assessed.
- Assessing collected samples and data to understand the species present, environmental risks, and importance of an area.
- Writing reports that communicate with stakeholders.
- Drawing up management plans based on findings.
- Providing clients with feedback on findings.
Zoology Careers: Medical And Veterinary Zoologist
The main focus of a medical and veterinary zoologist is to study the role that animals play in disease and their spread to humans, livestock, and domestic animals.
This includes researching vectors such as ticks, protozoans, parasitic worms, and other insects.
Examples of this research include the movement of malaria between humans through a mosquito as the vector and rabies, as passed onto humans via an infected animal.
Industries that benefit most from these specialized zoologists include agriculture, medicine, and veterinary.
Further studies are required for this line of work, and employment can be found with the government, universities, and research institutes.
Medical And Veterinary Zoologist: Field, Lab And Office Work
The responsibilities of medical and veterinary zoologists are based in the field, lab, and office. They include:
- Sample collection from the field (including water, soil, and organic samples).
- Laboratory work to analyze the samples collected and conduct experiments.
- Report writing to communicate the findings to the government (especially if there is a potential epidemic) and other affected bodies.
Zoology Careers: Molecular And Cellular Biologist
Molecular and cellular biologists are the people who study organisms on the microscopic level.
Some of the fields they study include:
- Conservation biology
Through the use of high-tech laboratory equipment, these biologists try to make connections between species, and their relation to others past and present, to gain a better understanding of how all the pieces of the puzzle that is nature and evolution fit together.
A large portion of their work involves DNA and other proteins, so specialized equipment is needed, along with further education.
A BSc may qualify you for a lab assistant position, but to get into this work, you’ll need a Master’s or P.H.d.
Most jobs in this field will be fulfilled in a university or a research institute focusing on zoology and agriculture.
Molecular And Cellular Biologist: Field, Lab And Office Work
Molecular and cellular biologists spend a large portion of their time in the lab. This, however, does not mean they have no opportunity for fieldwork.
Some of their responsibilities include:
- Collecting DNA samples in the field.
- Processing, analyzing, and studying samples in the lab.
- Report writing on discoveries.
- Meeting with others in the field to collaborate work efforts.
Zoology Careers: Museum Scientist
Although a museum scientist and an archeologist are not the same vocations, you will be forgiven for mistaking the two. A museum-scientist (zoologist) focuses on studying systematics (taxonomy), the diversity of animals, and their relatedness to one another.
A major focus of their job is studying museum collections of animals and determining evolutionary connections by examining the traits of these animals.
They also look for unique characteristics in certain species.
A large focus of this career is education through the museum exhibits and discoveries made in the collections.
Zoologists working at museums have specialized in a particular group of animals (e.g., fish, birds, or mammals).
This is a good alternative place of employment for those who would prefer not to do fieldwork or who enjoy meeting with and educating the public.
Museum Scientist: Field, Lab And Office Work
Museum scientists (or zoologists) spend most of their time in the museum, perusing over the collections at hand.
They will, however, also be tasked with obtaining new collections for the museum, which constitutes fieldwork.
Some of their tasks include:
- Collecting, preserving, documenting, maintaining, and studying collections at the museum.
- Interacting with patrons and interest groups and educating them.
- Potentially consultation work for external companies that require expertise in a particular area of zoology.
Zoology Careers: Resource Conservationist
Resource conservationist is not necessarily the correct title for this position; however, it describes the individual’s function.
The role of a resource conservationist is to manage areas of natural resources (plants and animals) to ensure that they will be available for the enjoyment and benefit of current and future generations.
Sustainable utilization is a “buzzword” and ensuring that harvesting (plants and animals), ecotourism, and ecosystem function are all in balance.
There is a large degree of ecology involved; however, more emphasis is placed on management.
Resource conservationists generally work in national parks or other natural areas, balancing all these factors while educating the public.
A degree in zoology will help, but this type of job is better suited to someone who has a broader interest than animals alone.
Resource Conservationist: Field, Lab And Office Work
A resource conservationist will spend a very large portion of their time in the field and the office, with barely any time spent in a lab.
Some of the key functions that a resource conservationist fulfills include:
- Managing a natural piece of land by ensuring the correct species diversity is kept, fire regimes are followed, and other disturbances are limited (e.g., mining).
- Complying with legislation and ensuring others do so as well in the area.
- Do field surveys to understand what is on the piece of land and surrounding areas.
- Communicate with stakeholders, investors, and the public on matters regarding management and development in the area.
- Procure funding for the operation of the protected area.
- Educate the public.
Zoology Careers Which Are Education Orientated
When studying zoology, it is imperative to remember that you do not have to pursue a “mainstream” ecology career. There are alternatives to branch into, one of which is education.
Although the degree and specialization of this education may vary, the purpose is to pass on the knowledge acquired to the next person, whether they are the next generation or somebody visiting your place of work.
There is a lot of value that someone with a degree in zoology can add to an educational setting.
It is also important to note that even if you don’t end up in an educational institution, there will still be a degree of “educating” involved in any job relating to Zoology.
After all, the purpose of this field is to increase our knowledge, and that only happens when knowledge is shared!
Zoology Careers: Biology School Teacher
To start at the basics, a zoology degree will allow you to pursue a career as a biology school teacher (elementary, middle, or high).
There are a few additional requirements that you will need (a course to become certified as a teacher) to fulfill if this is the route you want to take, but it is also an option.
If you enjoy teaching and not so much fieldwork, then this is a good job option.
Zoology Careers: Environmental Educator
Many national parks, museums, and other places with natural areas open to the public have the capacity for environmental education.
Unlike a regular teacher, this educator will generally only see a group once, and then they move their separate way.
These groups include:
- school children
- interest groups (birders)
This position aims to create environmental awareness, instill a passion and a sense of importance when it comes to the natural world and ecology.
“Lessons” are generally tailored to meet the needs of the specific group, with activities including:
- nature walks
- scavenger hunts
- nature “bingo”
If you have a degree in zoology, you are qualified enough for this role. But a passion for imparting knowledge to your fellow person is of far more value.
Zoology Careers: University Or College Lecturer
If you have studied zoology and you would like to teach at the highest level, then becoming a college or university lecturer is the target to aim for.
These positions generally require a few years of practical experience and at least a Master’s degree.
If, however, this is the route you choose, you can work your way up to a professor, in which case you will be able to teach and supervise students up to P.H.d level.
This is a specialized area where you will train the next generation of zoologists to complete the cycle again.
Many professionals in the field will often be part-time or guest lecturers at some colleges and universities that allow it.
This is nowhere nearly an exhaustive list. This guide aims to alert you to the possibilities available to you if you choose to study in this magnificent field of natural sciences. By deciding what aspect of zoology appeals most to you, you can steer your career in a particular direction.
Zoological Society of Southern Africa: Careers and Job Opportunities for Zoologists
University of the People: Zoology Degree: What Can You Do With It
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists
The Balance Careers: What Does an Animal Nutritionist Do?
ZipRecruiter: What Does an Aquatic Biologist Do
Indeed: Learn About Being an Ecologist
Vault.com: Environmental Consultants
Chron.com: How to Become a Wildlife Biology Teacher