CareerExplorer’s step-by-step guide on how to become a zoologist.

Step 1

Is becoming a zoologist right for me?

The first step to choosing a career is to make sure you are actually willing to commit to pursuing the career. You don’t want to waste your time doing something you don’t want to do. If you’re new here, you should read about:

What do zoologists do?
Career Satisfaction
Are zoologists happy with their careers?
What are zoologists like?

Still unsure if becoming a zoologist is the right career path? to find out if this career is right for you. Perhaps you are well-suited to become a zoologist or another similar career!

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Step 2

High School

If you are interested in becoming a zoologist, there are several high school courses that can help prepare you for a career in this field. Here are some courses that can be helpful:

  • Biology: This is the most important subject for anyone interested in studying animals, as it provides a foundation for understanding the anatomy, physiology, and behavior of animals.
  • Chemistry: Chemistry is also an important subject for aspiring zoologists, as it provides a foundation for understanding the chemical processes that occur within living organisms.
  • Mathematics: Mathematics is important for a wide range of scientific fields, and zoology is no exception. Mathematics is essential for statistical analysis and modeling, both of which are important in many areas of zoology.
  • Physics: Physics is another important subject that can be useful for zoologists, especially those interested in studying the biomechanics of animals.
  • Environmental Science: Environmental science can be helpful for zoologists who are interested in the interactions between animals and their environment, and in the effects of human activities on wildlife.
  • Anatomy and Physiology: These courses can provide a more in-depth understanding of the structure and function of animal bodies.
  • Ecology: Ecology is the study of the relationships between organisms and their environment, and is a key area of focus for many zoologists.
Step 3

Formal Education Steps

To become a zoologist, there are several steps you'll need to take:

  • Earn a Bachelor's Degree: Most zoologist positions require at least a Bachelor's Degree in Zoology, Biology, Ecology, or a related field. During your undergraduate studies, it's important to take courses in animal biology, ecology, evolution, genetics, and statistics.
  • Gain Practical Experience: You can gain practical experience by participating in internships, volunteering at wildlife rehabilitation centers or zoos, or conducting research with faculty members or graduate students.
  • Consider Earning a Graduate Degree: Some positions in zoology, such as those in research or academia, may require a graduate degree. A Master's Degree or Ph.D. in Zoology or a related field can provide more advanced training in research methods, data analysis, and specialized areas of study.
  • Develop a Specialization: Zoology is a broad field, and many zoologists choose to specialize in areas such as animal behavior, conservation biology, or marine biology. Developing a specialization can help you stand out in the job market and provide more opportunities for career advancement.
  • Build a Network: Joining professional organizations or attending conferences can help you connect with other zoologists and learn about job opportunities. It can also be helpful to network with faculty members, graduate students, and other professionals in the field.
Step 4

Employment Opportunities

Zoologists have a variety of employment opportunities in both the public and private sectors. Some common areas of employment for zoologists include:

  • Zoos and Aquariums: Many zoologists work at zoos and aquariums, where they may be involved in caring for animals, conducting research, or educating the public.
  • Wildlife and Conservation Organizations: Zoologists may work for organizations that focus on wildlife conservation and protection, such as the National Wildlife Federation, the World Wildlife Fund, or the Nature Conservancy.
  • Government Agencies: Zoologists may work for government agencies at the federal, state, or local level. These agencies may include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, or the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Research Institutions: Zoologists may work for universities or research institutions, where they may conduct research, teach courses, or supervise graduate students.
  • Private Industry: Zoologists may work for private companies that specialize in areas such as pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, or agriculture. They may conduct research or develop products related to animal health, nutrition, or genetics.
  • Non-profit Organizations: Zoologists may work for non-profit organizations that focus on animal welfare, animal rights, or animal rescue.
Step 5

Associations for Zoologists

Joining associations can provide zoologists with access to a supportive community, opportunities for collaboration, and avenues for staying updated on the latest research and advancements in their respective fields. Here are some notable associations for zoologists:

  • American Society of Mammalogists (ASM): ASM focuses on the study of mammals and provides a platform for mammalogists to exchange research, collaborate, and stay updated on developments in the field.
  • The Wildlife Society (TWS): TWS is dedicated to advancing wildlife management and conservation. It offers resources, conferences, and networking opportunities for professionals involved in wildlife research and management.
  • American Ornithological Society (AOS): AOS is a leading organization for ornithologists, providing a platform for the exchange of ideas, research, and collaboration in the study of birds.
  • Ecological Society of America (ESA): ESA is a broadly focused organization for ecologists, including zoologists working on ecological studies. It hosts conferences and provides resources for professionals in ecology and related fields.
  • Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB): SICB is an interdisciplinary society that covers a range of topics in biology, including zoology. It fosters collaboration and provides a platform for presenting research.
  • Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO): ASLO is focused on the aquatic sciences, including marine biology. It offers a platform for researchers and professionals studying aquatic ecosystems.
  • Society for Conservation Biology (SCB): SCB is dedicated to advancing the science and practice of conserving Earth's biological diversity. It provides resources, conferences, and networking opportunities for conservation professionals.
  • American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (ASIH): ASIH focuses on the study of fishes, amphibians, and reptiles. It provides a platform for researchers and educators in these fields.
  • Entomological Society of America (ESA): While primarily focused on entomology, ESA provides a valuable network for professionals interested in the broader field of zoology.
  • Animal Behavior Society (ABS): ABS is dedicated to the study of animal behavior. It offers resources, conferences, and networking opportunities for professionals interested in animal behavior.