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Zoologist


How to Become a Zoologist
Job Duties of a Zoologist
Skills and Qualities Needed to Become a Zoologist
Zoologist Salary
Influential Professional Zoologists
Leading Organizations for Zoologists
Top Cities for Zoologist Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become a Zoologist

Zoology is a branch of biology that is concerned with the study of animals. The word zoology comes from the Greek word zoom and logos meaning animal and study respectively. Zoologists are also referred to as animal biologists or animal scientists. The field of study of zoologists is known as zoology. Zoology is a branch of biology. Therefore, zoology is a term that describes animal biology. Zoology is a broad field and zoologists work with and study a wide variety of animals from the kangaroo to monkeys and sharks. Zoologists work in all areas of animal life. Their work is varied, for example, they may study the animal brain under the microscope, the mating pattern of the tiger or carry out dissection on a deceased monkey to study its anatomy.

Most people have a limited view of zoologists and confuse the term with zoo keepers. This is just one area that a zoologist can work in. Zoos are one of the smaller employers of zoologists. Most zoologists work in colleges and universities where they hold teaching or research positions. A large number of zoologists are employed by the government and work as wild life conservationists or wildlife park managers. A very small number work in zoos and even fewer in museums and for other private companies. Zoologist can also include collectors of fossils and paleontologists along with modern wild life explorers, travelers and writers known as zoo-geographers.

What does a Zoologist do?

Zoologists study animals and wildlife. This includes the animals' behavior, diseases, genetics and the way that they function and behave. Zoologists carry out experiments with animals. This can be done in the animals' natural surroundings or in controlled surroundings as is often seen at zoos throughout the world. They may also research dead animals using dissection to study animal pathology or the animals' anatomy. Another area of study is the environment and how it affects the animals directly such as the land and water on which the animals survive. They may also look at animal traits and study how these traits are passed on from generation to generation. The psychology of the animal may be studied to see how the animal's behavior is affected by their environment and interaction with other animals. This along with observing the animals' sociology will give zoologists information on the animals mating patterns and group behavior.

Zoologists can be classified further by the animal group that they study. Some examples are Ichthyologists that study fish and mammalogists that study mammals.

In the zoo environment, the zoo keeper provides the daily care of the animals such as feeding, monitoring and cleaning the animals. A zoologist may also work as a zoo curator who oversees the distribution and care of the animals. Curators also work along side directors to manage the overall care of the animals and the zoo itself. The director of the zoo, although a zoologist, has little contact with the animals but rather performs an administrative role and works in such areas as fundraising, marketing and public relations.

The working week of the zoologist often includes long, odd hours in laboratories or whilst working in the field and other locations. In the zoo setting the animals must be cared for around the clock which requires the zookeeper to have a very varied schedule. When an animal is sick or injured the whole team at the zoo may be called upon to work extremely long hours. A forty hour work week is common amongst zoologists that hold a teaching role.

What skills or qualities do I need to become a Zoologist?

A PhD degree is desirable for independent research and teaching. A Masters degree is sufficient for animal inspection, management or may be sufficient for some research and teaching positions. Those with a Bachelors degree in zoology may work as research assistants, laboratory technicians or high school teachers.

Zoologists should be able to work independently and as part of a team. They should be able to communicate clearly. Zoologists working in field research in remote areas must be physically fit with good stamina. Zoologists working as zoo keepers must be able to develop a rapport with the animals and be extremely cautious to avoid being injured. Researchers must have great patience to conduct detailed and often lengthy projects. They often need great writing skills as they spend much of their time writing research grant proposals to funding agencies. Zoologists that work in administrative or management positions should possess strong business and communication skills.

How much does a Zoologist make?

This varies from state to state and the position held by the zoologist. The mean hourly wage of a zoologist is $28 although this varies from $16 to $43.The average annual wage is $59,000 with a range from $34,500 to $90,000.


Who are some influential professionals in this field?

The term zoology is relatively modern and was previously known as natural history. Charles Darwin is the most well know natural historian who studied animals throughout his life time. Alfred Russell Wallace worked with Darwin, and came up with the theory of natural selection. Zoology as we know it was first establish in Europe. Edward Wotton who was born in Oxford in 1492, practiced as a physician in London and published De Differentiis Animalium at Paris in 1552. Thomas Henry Huxley set up the institution of zoological training in the British Universities. Huxley was known as the greatest anatomist of his time.

Other influential people in the field of zoology include David Attenborough, Aristotle, Richard Dawkins, Edmund Brisco Ford, Jane Goodall, Libbie Hyman and Austin Stevens.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

The American Institute of Biological Sciences and the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology are the top advisory bodies in this field. The American Physiology Society and The Botanical Society of America also hold a great deal of information in the zoological fields.

What are the top cities for Zoologist jobs?

The highest concentration of zoologists is in Corvallis, OR, Fairbanks, AK, and Olympia, WA. The top paying metropolitan areas are Houston-Sugarland-Baytown, TX, and Bethesda-Gaithersburg-Fredrick, MD, Metropolitan Division.

Other Careers of Interest

Animal Care Worker
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Game Warden
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Veterinarian
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Wildlife Worker
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