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What college major should I go for if I want to be an animal caretaker?

My name is River and I'm a junior at RHHS. I was wondering what major should I go for if I want to be an animal caretaker. I'm looking more for a animal shelter/daycare all the way up to working in a zoo.

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Lisa’s Answer

Hi River,

The answer is-it depends. For example, if you want to work with small, domestic animals vs large and wild animals, marine life, and provide different levels of care (I.e., give medication, focus on nutrition, etc) then your start with a certificate, or go for the undergraduate and graduate degree preparation, which may be similar or different at first.

Your degree options may include majors leading to veterinarian, veterinarian tech or assistant, Equine science, marine biologist or zoologist.

Other schools may offer Animal Care Science and Husbandry, which may be the closest option you are looking for based on what you’ve described.

You may be taking the same biology, chemistry and physics courses in these majors and then you’ll do more science courses depending on your unique interest and program.

Otherwise, if you have no interest in becoming a doctor or scientist or tech, you may become an assistant and all you may need in some cases is a certificate or be certified. You can become certified and continue with a higher degree later on.

River, you can start by looking to these jobs and roles, and finding out more about which schools offer the preferred option you are looking for.

All the best and I hope this helps!
Lisa
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Michelle’s Answer

Hi River-
One of the first things you want to think about it, is what are some your best subjects in school! You want to be successful when you go to college. If you are great in Math and Science then you can lean towards getting a Biology degree or Animal Science Degree. If math is not your strong suit, look into psychology. We use a lot of psychology when working with animals. In fact one of the best books out there is called "Dont shoot the dog" by Karen Pryor. It really is the ABC's on how we train animals, and we use those techniques in zoos. It is always better to have an animal volunteer to participate in veterinary care. We dont use it train tricks, but for medical husbandry needs. I think you will find the book interesting. There are also 2 year zookeeping programs. Santa Fe Community college in Florida and Moore Park College in California have well known animal care training programs. Zoo's hire students from these programs too. There are many options. Hope this helps. Good luck!
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Annie’s Answer

Hello River! Great to learn of your career interests. If you are interested in animal caretaking, I would recommend majors in college that allow you to learn more about biological sciences. These majors could be but aren't limited to Molecular and Cell Biology; General biology; animal physiology; etc. A worthy aspect of consideration when selecting your major would be whether that major allows you to gain a solid background in biology; physiology and organic chemistry through the major's prerequisites and coursework - subjects which are foundational spheres of studying living things. Hope this proves helpful.
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