During a typical workday, Zoologists do much more than clean the monkey enclosure. A zoologist usually has at least a bachelor's degree and often, further specialized training. They could be employed doing anything from tracking rare lemurs in Madagascar to looking after pandas at the San Diego Zoo. That means that the wages for a zoologist vary widely. But in general, zoologists can expect an average wage that is higher than the average salary in the United States.
In 2011, the mean annual wage for zoologists in the United States was $61,880, or $29.75 an hour, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That's slightly lower than the average for all other colleagues in life, physical and social sciences jobs. However, it's also almost $30,000 per year more than the mean wage for all working Americans. In short, being a zoologist probably won't make you rich, but it could give you enough money to lead a comfortable life doing work that you love.
In 2010, around 19,800 people were employed as zoologists in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Concentration of zoologist jobs varies by state. For example, 2,190 zoologists worked in California, with only 70 in Connecticut. The U.S. Bureau of Labor expects the number of zoologist jobs to rise by around 7 percent between 2010 and 2020. That compares with an average 14 percent increase for all U.S. jobs in the same period.
State by State
If money is a big factor in your choice of a zoologist job, head to Maryland. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, zoologists there earn a mean annual wage of $97,930 -- around $10,000 dollars per year more than the second best-paid state, Connecticut. In Florida and North Dakota, mean wages for zoologists were between $48,030 and $51,180 annually.
Your pay as a zoologist will depend partly on your education level. For example, if you have a doctoral degree you will probably earn more than someone with a bachelor's degree, according to Minnesota's ISEEK Careers site. The site also suggests that working for the government may attract higher wages than working at a non-profit zoo, while zoologists who apply for and receive grants may also push up their earnings.
Based near London, U.K., Peter Mitchell has been a journalist and copywriter for over eight years. Credits include stories for "The Guardian" and the BBC. Mitchell is an experienced player and coach for basketball and soccer teams, and has written articles on nutrition, health and fitness. He has a First Class Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) from Bristol University.