Zoologist: Requirements for Becoming a Zoologist

Published Aug 13, 2009

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If you're a true animal lover, consider a career in zoology. Zoologists study animals from a scientific standpoint, learning about behaviorism, genetics, evolution and more. A minimum of a bachelor's degree is required to enter the zoology field, but those wishing to fill research or teaching position often need a doctorate.

Zoologist Career Summary

Zoologists are biological scientists who study animals through scientific method and theory. Many Zoologists fill research or teaching roles at the university level; however, competition for research positions is keen. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), www.bls.gov, only one in four biological sciences grant proposals is approved. Many Zoologists also find work in private industry. Some common job titles for Zoologists include the following:

  • Zookeeper
  • Zoo curator
  • Animal educator
  • Animal rehabilitator
  • Animal behaviorist

Education Required to Become a Zoologist

Zoology degrees are available at bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels. In addition to studying subjects like genetics and evolution, undergraduate zoology students typically take general biology and chemistry courses. Most graduate-level zoology programs allow students to specialize in areas like molecular biology or ecology. Master's and doctoral degree programs also typically have heavy research requirements, including a thesis or dissertation.

Advancing as a Zoologist

A minimum of a bachelor's degree is required to pursue a career in zoology; however, most career training is completed on the job. Zoologists who want to advance into managerial or director's roles often need at least a master's degree, and those who wish to work as professors or researchers should have a doctorate. Since research positions are often highly competitive, doctoral students should strive to build impressive resumes prior to graduation.

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