Despite having explored almost all the Earth's land surface and a decent fraction of the ocean, mankind has only cataloged 1.7 million of the estimated 7 million species on the planet. Given that around 13,500 new invertebrate and 500 new reptile and fish species are cataloged a year, it will be a good while before this daunting task facing zoologists is complete, notes the Current Results website. Identifying new species is just one aspect of a zoologist's job. They also study animals' interactions with other species, migration patterns and reproductive habits, as well as the impact of diseases and human activity on wildlife and natural environments.
Zoologists need strong critical thinking and analytical skills. Zoologists are scientists, and like scientists they must be able to think logically, test theories and make reasonable assumptions based on limited data. Critical thinking skills are very important in determining cause and effect; and explaining extremely complex phenomena like wildlife population declines or changes in migration patterns that require an analytical mindset.
Sharp eyes, good ears and an ability to blend in with your surroundings are important qualities for zoologists who frequently observe animals in their habitats. By the same token, they have to be able to discern very slight changes in animal characteristics, including appearance and behaviors, when observing in the field or lab.
Zoologists typically have to do more than just identify a problem. In many cases, they're also responsible for developing solutions to the problem. This can involve further research, consultation or directly working with government authorities. The tenacity to wrestle with problems until they're solved is an important quality for a zoologist.
Strong Communication and Interpersonal Skills
Speaking and writing skills are important for zoologists as they have to make presentations and publish the results of their research. Good writing skills are also important for writing grants to get funding for research projects. Interpersonal skills are important as well, as zoologists often work cooperatively with other scientists as part of a team.
Clayton Browne has been writing professionally since 1994. He has written and edited everything from science fiction to semiconductor patents to dissertations in linguistics, having worked for Holt, Rinehart & Winston, Steck-Vaughn and The Psychological Corp. Browne has a Master of Science in linguistic anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.