What is a Zoologist?

A zoologist is a scientist who studies animals and their behavior, physiology, genetics, and ecology. Zoologists may specialize in studying a particular group of animals, such as birds, mammals, reptiles, or insects, or they may focus on a particular aspect of animal biology, such as animal behavior or the evolution of species. Zoologists use a variety of research methods, including field observations, laboratory experiments, and computer simulations, to understand how animals interact with their environment, each other, and their own species.

Zoologists may work in a variety of settings, such as universities, government agencies, zoos, museums, and research institutions. They may conduct research on topics such as animal communication, reproduction, migration patterns, and disease transmission. Zoologists may also be involved in conservation efforts, such as developing programs to protect endangered species, managing wildlife populations, and restoring ecosystems.

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What does a Zoologist do?

A giraffe looking at the camera.

Zoologists play a crucial role in our understanding of the natural world and the conservation of animal species. By conducting research and studying animal behavior, physiology, genetics, and ecology, zoologists provide valuable insights into how animals interact with their environment, each other, and their own species. Their work helps us to better understand the complex relationships between different animal species, and how changes in their habitats or populations can impact entire ecosystems.

Zoologists also play an important role in developing and implementing conservation strategies to protect endangered species and their habitats. By studying animal populations and identifying threats to their survival, zoologists can develop targeted conservation plans and initiatives to help preserve these species for future generations. They also work with governments, NGOs, and other organizations to advocate for policies and practices that support the conservation of wildlife and their habitats.

Duties and Responsibilities
The duties and responsibilities of a zoologist can vary depending on their area of specialization and the type of organization they work for. Here are some of the key responsibilities of a zoologist:

  • Conduct research: Zoologists are responsible for conducting research on various aspects of animal behavior, physiology, genetics, and ecology. This includes designing and carrying out experiments, collecting data, and analyzing results.
  • Study animal populations: Zoologists study animal populations to determine their distribution, abundance, and trends over time. This may involve conducting surveys, tagging and tracking animals, and monitoring populations for changes.
  • Develop conservation strategies: Zoologists work to develop and implement strategies to protect endangered species and their habitats. This may involve developing conservation plans, managing wildlife populations, and working with government agencies and other organizations to implement conservation initiatives.
  • Communicate findings: Zoologists are responsible for communicating their findings to a variety of audiences, including scientists, policymakers, and the general public. This may involve writing scientific papers, giving presentations, and participating in outreach and education programs.
  • Manage animal care: Zoologists who work in zoos, aquariums, or other animal facilities are responsible for the care and management of animals in captivity. This may involve monitoring their health, providing food and shelter, and ensuring their well-being.
  • Teach and mentor students: Many zoologists also teach at universities and colleges, and are responsible for instructing and mentoring students in animal biology, behavior, and ecology.

Types of Zoologists
Zoology is a broad field that encompasses many different sub-disciplines, each with its own focus and area of study. The following are just a few examples of the many types of zoologists and the areas of study within zoology. Many zoologists specialize even further within these fields, focusing on a particular group of animals or a specific research topic.

Here are some of the major types of zoologists and what they do:

  • Animal Behaviorists: Animal behaviorists are concerned with understanding the behavior of animals, including the factors that influence their behavior, the social interactions between animals, and the mechanisms behind various behaviors.
  • Comparative Anatomists: Comparative anatomists study the anatomy of different animal species to understand their evolutionary relationships and adaptations.
  • Conservation Scientists: While zoologists study animals and their behavior, ecology, and physiology, conservation scientists study habitat restoration, biodiversity conservation, and environmental policy.
  • Ecologists: Ecologists study how animals interact with their environment, including their food sources, habitats, and predators.
  • Entomologists: Entomologists study insects and their behavior, physiology, and ecology.
  • Ethologists: Ethologists study animal behavior, including their communication, mating rituals, social behavior, and learning.
  • Evolutionary Biologists: Evolutionary biologists study how species change over time through natural selection and genetic changes.
  • Ecotoxicologists: Ecotoxicologists study the effects of toxic substances on ecosystems, including the plants and animals that live within them.
  • Herpetologists: Herpetologists study reptiles and amphibians, including their behavior, physiology, and conservation needs.
  • Mammalogists: Mammalogists study mammals, including their behavior, physiology, and conservation needs.
  • Marine Biologists: Marine biologists study marine animals, including their behavior, physiology, and ecology.
  • Ornithologists: Ornithologists study birds, including their behavior, ecology, and evolution.
  • Wildlife Biologists: Wildlife biologists study animals in their natural habitats, including their behavior, population dynamics, and conservation needs.
  • Wildlife Ecologists: Wildlife ecologists study the relationships between animals and their environment, with a particular focus on wild animal populations.
  • Wildlife Rehabilitators: Wildlife rehabilitators provides care and treatment to injured, orphaned, or sick wild animals with the goal of returning them to their natural habitat.
  • Zoo Curators: Zoo curators oversee all aspects of animal management at a zoo or aquarium, such as veterinary care, animal transportation, research projects, quarantine procedures, animal husbandry, and dietary issues.
  • Zoo Educators: Zoo educators work at zoos, aquariums, or similar facilities to educate visitors about animals, their habitats, and conservation efforts.
  • Zoo Endocrinologists: Zoo endocrinologists study the hormonal and reproductive processes of animals in zoos and other captive environments.

Are you suited to be a zoologist?

Zoologists have distinct personalities. They tend to be investigative individuals, which means they’re intellectual, introspective, and inquisitive. They are curious, methodical, rational, analytical, and logical. Some of them are also realistic, meaning they’re independent, stable, persistent, genuine, practical, and thrifty.

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What is the workplace of a Zoologist like?

The workplace of a zoologist can vary widely depending on their area of specialization and the organization they work for. Some zoologists work in laboratories or research institutions, where they spend much of their time conducting experiments, analyzing data, and writing reports. Others may work in the field, conducting surveys, monitoring populations, and studying animal behavior in their natural habitats.

Many zoologists also work in zoos, aquariums, or other animal facilities, where they are responsible for the care and management of animals in captivity. In these settings, they may work closely with animal keepers and veterinary staff to ensure that animals receive proper nutrition, medical care, and enrichment activities to promote their physical and psychological well-being.

Some zoologists also work in government agencies, such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Park Service, where they are responsible for managing wildlife populations and implementing conservation initiatives. This may involve developing policies and regulations to protect endangered species, conducting environmental impact assessments, and monitoring wildlife populations for changes.

Overall, the workplace of a zoologist can be varied and dynamic, with opportunities to work in a variety of settings and collaborate with other professionals in the field. However, zoologists may also face challenges, such as working in remote or harsh environments, dealing with difficult or dangerous animals, and navigating complex political and social issues related to wildlife conservation.

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Pros and cons of being a Zoologist

Zoology is a fascinating field that offers a range of career opportunities for those who are passionate about animal biology, behavior, and ecology. As with any profession, there are pros and cons to being a zoologist. Here are some of the key factors to consider:


  • Meaningful work: Zoologists have the opportunity to contribute to our understanding of the natural world and make a positive impact on the conservation of animal species.
  • Varied career options: Zoologists can work in a variety of settings, including research institutions, zoos and aquariums, government agencies, and non-profit organizations.
  • Opportunity for travel: Some zoologists have the opportunity to travel to remote locations to study animals in their natural habitats.
  • Ongoing learning: Zoology is a constantly evolving field, with new discoveries and technologies that offer opportunities for ongoing learning and professional development.


  • Competitive job market: Jobs in zoology can be highly competitive, and may require advanced degrees and significant experience.
  • Limited job growth: Some areas of zoology may have limited job growth, particularly in government agencies or non-profit organizations.
  • Challenging working conditions: Zoologists may work in remote or harsh environments, or may need to handle difficult or dangerous animals.
  • Emotionally challenging: Working with animals can be emotionally challenging, particularly when dealing with issues related to animal welfare, illness, or death.

How long does it take to become a Zoologist?

Becoming a zoologist typically requires a combination of education and experience. The length of time it takes to become a zoologist can vary depending on the specific career path and level of education desired.

At minimum, a Bachelor's Degree in Zoology or a related field is typically required to qualify for entry-level positions in the field. A bachelor's degree typically takes four years to complete, although some students may take longer or enroll in accelerated programs.

For those who wish to pursue more advanced positions in research or academia, a graduate degree such as a Master's or Ph.D. in Zoology or a related field may be necessary. A master's degree typically takes two years to complete, while a Ph.D. can take several years or more depending on the program and research requirements.

In addition to education, experience is also important in the field of zoology. Many zoologists gain practical experience through internships, volunteer work, or entry-level positions before moving on to more advanced roles.

Zoologists are also known as:
Animal Biologist