I am actually an ecologist (broader field). But for a zoologist you would need to take classes similar to a wildlife biologist- herpetology, ornithology, ichthyology, mammology, ethology, population dynamics, ecology, comparative anatomy and physiology and genetics. Of course you would also want to take some basic plant classes. I don’t know of any undergrad zoology degrees so you really don’t specialize until the graduate level. So wildlife biology as an undergrad then zooogy at the masters or PHD level.
You do have to start at the bottom and clean up and feed captive animals. Of course having to deal with human animal interactions and the fact that people kill animals, not always for the best reasons, yet you need to work with people to truly protect some animals and their habitat.
I work for an Environmental Consulting agency- Tetra Tech.
Working with and studying wild animals would be the highlight if you like this then there is no downside.
Just helped with hiring someone new. Employers are looking for an independent thinker who is self directed. Education is important but experience even more important.
I am mostly in the field doing a wide variety of things from water sampling, soil sampling, protected species surveys, animal relocations, environmental resource permitting assistance, environmental site assessments, wetland monitoring. Paper work consists of writing reports when a project is completed. I have worked as a Naturalist educating people. It is fun to spread awareness as people are often unaware about certain animal behaviors.
I make about 37,000 a year. The average ecologist makes about 39,000 but you must take into consideration the state you are in.