What Degree is Needed To Become a Zoologist?

ZoologistStudents who enter college with a love of animals sometimes decide on zoology careers, but those students need to know the type of degree needed to be a zoologist. Though some think that zoologists only work in zoos and animal care centers, they also work in research institutions and animal welfare organizations that provide care and support for injured, sick and endangered animals. The type of degree you need will often depend on where you want to work.

What Do Zoologists Do?

While some zoologists work in zoos, many zoologists work in the field. They are responsible for viewing animals in their native habitats and seeing how different things affect their lives, including changes in the environment or changes to their diet. They take the research they do and construct papers that they publish in research and academic journals to inform others of what they witnessed. Zoologists may also work on conservation plans. They see how human intervention harms the animals and create plans that show cities and towns what residents can and cannot do around those animals.

What Degree Do You Need?

The type of degree needed to be a zoologist really depends on what you want to do in your career. Many colleges offer zoology and ecology bachelor’s degrees that allow you to apply for entry level zoology positions. If you want to teach others, you will generally need a minimum of a master’s degree. Those hoping to perform independent research often need a Ph.D. While working on your Ph.D, you will often have the chance to conduct research in the specific field in which you want to work and gain some national recognition for your efforts. A master’s program will include a thesis component that may let you gain attention as well.

Future Outlook and Pay

Many students look at the future outlook for careers that interest them because they want job stability in the future. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for zoologists will increase by five percent between 2012 and 2022. While this is a slower than average rate of growth, it does represent the addition of around 1,000 new zoologist jobs. The BLS also found that the median wage for zoologists is around $57,000 a year or nearly $28 an hour.

Where They Work

Though you might not except to see zoologists working for the government, once you have the degree needed to be a zoologist, you might find yourself applying for jobs with the state and federal government. Zoologists sometimes work in education centers and provide classes for students to teach them how to care for animals. They also work in research institutions and organizations designed to protect endangered animals and learn how to best care for injured animals. Some zoologists work for private companies and help those companies protect animal habitats, and other zoologists work in colleges as professors to train the next generation of zoologists.

Related Resource: Environmental Engineering

Whether you want to view and observe animals in their native habitats, conduct research on certain animals or work around animals every day, you need a zoology degree. The degree needed to be a zoologist varies based on your future career goals, and while a bachelor’s degree might qualify you for working in entry level positions, you may need a master’s degree or Ph.D for more advanced jobs.