Skip to main content
2 answers
3
Asked 256 views

Any tips or advice on whether its worth it to become a zoo vet vs zookeeper? Thank you all! #Spring24

I am currently a zoo science major and debating on whether I want to go to vet school after I graduate!

+25 Karma if successful
From: You
To: Friend
Subject: Career question for you

3

2 answers


0
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

Vihaan’s Answer

Hello. I will assume that you graduate high school in spring of 2024 and getting ready to enter college. If you are very interested and passionate, then you should go to vet school. The average salary is around $78k for a zoo vet and some other places such as a regular vet can make upwards of $100k. I suggest you research what schools are good near you but, you also should research the job market and the projected demand for vets in the near future. I assume you took classes related to biology and medical related classes in high school so you can always have regular healthcare as a backup (ex: nursing, surgeon, etc).
0
0
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

Nirah’s Answer

Becoming a zoo veterinarian requires completing a four-year college degree, a four year Veterinary degree, and then a three or four year residency in a zoo vet program, culminating with the ACZM board exam for zoo vets. At that point you would become a board-certified veterinarian and would be able to obtain zoo vet jobs at accredited zoos. (Not all vets who work in zoos are board-certified. Some vets are older than the exam, which started in the late 80s, and many are residents who have not yet taken boards). That’s a long time to spend in school, or in a residency, which pays, but not as well as a real job. Also, zoo vet jobs tend to pay less than most jobs in private practice or in other aspects of the Veterinary industry. Zoos typically don’t have a lot of money to pay their staff, but rely on being able to hire people for whom salary is not the most important thing. So, you would be investing 11 years, and 200 to 400 thousand dollars to earn a salary of about 100k per year. The average vet student today leaves school with about 150k of student loan debt. You would have a very unique job, and have the chance to work with endangered species that most vets never see. In contrast, some people start working in zoos right out of high school, and eventually work their way up to zookeeper positions. Having a college degree in animal science or veterinary technology can certainly help with that career. Salary would not be as high, typically, as for the vet, but on the other hand your college debt would be much lower, plus you would have 7-11 more years earning a salary, so financially, there might not be as much of a total lifetime difference as you think. You would be doing different kinds of tasks than the vet, but still working with amazing animals.
There are a lot more zookeeper jobs than zoo vet jobs (most zoos have a handful of vets but dozens of keepers and other non-vet staff), so that is also something to consider. At any one time, chances are that only a few zoos anywhere in the country are looking for a vet- so you might not have much choice about where in the country you live if you want to be a zoo vet. The same is true for Veterinary schools, there are a fewer than 30, and for residency programs in zoological medicine. Although there are a few cities that have both a vet school and a zoo, chances are that you would need to move to go to vet school, move again for your residency program, and relocate again to get a job. For people who enjoy living different places, this is a plus, but if you are trying to stay close to family or your spouse’s job, this can make logistics difficult.

Overall, there are only about 1000 zoo vets in the USA.
Either career is great- you need to consider all the factors and decide which is worth it for you.
0