How to Prepare to Be a Zoologist

Zoologists need strong analytical research and laboratory skills.
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Zoologists need strong analytical research and laboratory skills.

Zoologists are life scientists who study animals either in their natural habitat or a laboratory. Zoology is a wide field with many career opportunities including, but not limited to, conservation work, wildlife rehabilitation, college teaching positions, zookeeping and field research. A career as a zoologist requires a specific educational background and relevant work experience. The salary for an entry-level zoologist position ranged from $30,000 to $45,000 per year, according to the North Carolina Association for Biomedical Research, which is in line with Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

    Earn a bachelor's degree in zoology, animal science, environmental biology, entomology or a related field from an accredited college or university. Your program of study should include courses in ecology, anatomy, wildlife management, cellular biology, botany, chemistry, physics, mathematics, statistics and computer science.

    Participate in internships, co-op work study programs and research opportunities relevant to the zoology field while an undergraduate student. This hands-on experience will be useful for obtaining employment as a zoologist or admission to a graduate school program in zoology.

    Consider obtaining a master's degree or a doctorate degree in zoology or a related field. While a bachelor's degree may be sufficient for entry-level zoologists jobs, many higher-level zoologist jobs and college teaching positions require an advanced degree.

    Consider joining a zoology professional organization for networking and continuing education purposes.

2016 Salary Information for Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists

Zoologists and wildlife biologists earned a median annual salary of $60,520 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, zoologists and wildlife biologists earned a 25th percentile salary of $48,360, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $76,320, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 19,400 people were employed in the U.S. as zoologists and wildlife biologists.

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