2 answers

What advice do you have for your people who are interested in studying wild life and becoming a zoologist?

Updated Providence, Rhode Island

I want to get involved and know if i should have a secondary skill so I won't starve while looking for a job. #science #job #veterinarian #animals #animal-health #wildlife-biology #wildlife #pets

2 answers

Vernon’s Answer

Updated Kingsland, Texas

Pick a university like University of Florida, UC Santa Barbara or even Kansas. Look for highly-published faculty who also actually teach courses. Sometimes the most "famous" professors have their graduate assistants teach their courses. Avoid that wherever possible.

The job market in the U.S. is very slim and a Ph.D. is probably necessary for you to have any kind of career. I just got back from New Zealand where they are ALL about their ecosystems, wildlife and preservation.

The current anti-science environment in this country will make it difficult to find good, satisfying work, so if I were in your shoes, I'd look to other, more sophisticated and progressive nations for career pursuits.

Lynette’s Answer

Updated Arlington, Virginia

That's a wonderful calling! Our planet and it's natural inhabitants need all the help they can get, these days.

My niece wanted to do the same thing, and she ended up specializing in animal neurology.

A couple suggestions for you, based on her experiences:

1. Narrow down your field of interest: What sort of animals are you interested in studying? If you like fish, whales, dolphins, and/or other marine life, for example, you may want to choose a school or program that specializes in Marine Biology, Ocean Ecology, or the study/research of the oceans & their inhabitants. This will line you up best for internships and jobs in that field. If you are more interested in birds, reptiles, elephants, or all zoo animals, there are programs that specialize in these areas, too. Don't forget about our farm animals, too: horses, cattle, goats, chickens, etc. If you have any interest there, you might look for schools with good Agri-programs. There is a lot of demand for research and improvements in the hormones and medicines that farmers can (or can't) give to the animals that wind up as human food, as well as finding humane, new ways to treat beef cattle, dairy cows, chickens, etc. There are also government and policy jobs in this field (USDA, FDA, etc.)

2. What environment do you want to work in? Do you prefer to be out in the woods, in the field, on the water? In a Zoo or National Park? Or, do you want to work in a laboratory environment, doing research at a university? If you prefer an office or law-type environment, you could become a lobbyist to fight for improved policies for protecting wild life, animal welfare, environmental protections, conserving our waters / forests, protecting or cleaning up our oceans. Once you narrow that down, you can focus in on programs and classes that’ll give you the right skill-set. It’ll also tell you what type of degree you'll need. Most entry-level jobs will just require a Bachelor’s degree. But, research positions will typically require a more advanced degree.

3. Get involved with animals now: A lot of these schools and programs are very competitive, and your extra-curricular experiences can make your application shine. Volunteer at a Zoo, work part time at a Vet Clinic, help with pet adoption events for the local Humane Society. Those experiences will help you qualify for the program of your choice, plus you can also learn a lot about whether you’ve got the physical and emotional fortitude for a career in the field or in the woods, working with animals who are sick, suffering, or going extinct.

It takes a special kind of person, but we need more people like that, on this Earth. Good luck!

Lynette recommends the following next steps:

  • Check out what the Bureau of Labor Stats has to say about a career as a Zoologist or Wildlife Biologist here: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/zoologists-and-wildlife-biologists.htm#tab-1
  • My niece did this program, offered by the Smithsonian, and she loved it! Also, they list Internships, Jobs and Volunteer opportunities at the bottom of their home page. Check it out here: https://nationalzoo.si.edu/conservation