What Is the Average Zoologist Salary? (And How To Become One)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated June 23, 2022 | Published February 4, 2020
Updated June 23, 2022
Published February 4, 2020
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Working as a zoologist allows you to study how wild animals behave and interact with their environments. Understanding the average salary for zoologists can help you decide whether this field is a good fit for you and your goals. Learning how different factors can affect a zoologist's salary can help you develop a career plan if you choose to pursue it.
In this article, we discuss what a zoologist is, what their average salary is, how to earn this job and answers to some common questions about zoologists.
What is a zoologist?
Zoologists are researchers who study animals, their behavior and how they interact with their environments. They often focus on how humans influence animal behavior and ecosystems. Zoologists might study a particular animal or group of animals, so they can understand actions and how their behavior changes over time. They track what the animals eat, where they go, how they react to changes in their environments and how they interact with other species. Zoologists also often write reports, publish articles, present at conferences and talk to journalists or the public.
Read more: FAQ: What Is a Zoologist?
What is the average zoologist salary?
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, zoologists earn an average of $64,650 per year. Zoologists with master's or doctoral degrees can work in supervisory positions, as head researchers and in university settings. They often specialize in a certain species or a specific group of animals and have access to greater funding, such as grants.
Zoologists can earn higher salaries as they gain experience in the field. They earn raises and become eligible for supervisory roles as they become experts in their field. Some focuses earn higher wages than others. Another factor that influences salary is where they work because some companies or institutions pay better than others. For example, a zoologist working at a for-profit research facility could earn more than one working for a nonprofit organization. In addition, the location in which a zoologist works can also affect their salary.
Average zoologist salary by state
Zoologists may make different amounts based on the state in which they work. The cost of living could affect a zoologist's wages, while some states allot more money for zoology and wildlife research than others, meaning zoologists could earn a higher salary. Here’s how much zoologists make on average in each state, according to BLS data:
Alabama: $59,680 per year
Alaska: $82,450 per year
Arizona: $63,390 per year
Arkansas: $60,260 per year
California: $78,390 per year
Colorado: $73,260 per year
Connecticut: $72,190 per year
Delaware: No data
Florida: $53,080 per year
Georgia: $64,160 per year
Hawaii: $78,140 per year
Idaho: $68,190 per year
Illinois: $66,600 per year
Indiana: $55,240 per year
Iowa: $63,320 per year
Kansas: $58,350 per year
Kentucky: $56,290 per year
Louisiana: $71,050 per year
Maine: $60,530 per year
Maryland: $81,170 per year
Massachusetts: $92,830 per year
Michigan: $72,370 per year
Minnesota: $68,450 per year
Mississippi: $73,860 per year
Missouri: $69,210 per year
Montana: $68,060 per year
Nebraska: $56,770 per year
Nevada: $68,350 per year
New Hampshire: $65,800 per year
New Jersey: $85,730 per year
New Mexico: $61,920 per year
New York: $76,020 per year
North Carolina: $66,930 per year
North Dakota: $73,330 per year
Ohio: $61,760 per year
Oklahoma: $58,590 per year
Oregon: $77,370 per year
Pennsylvania: $66,940 per year
Rhode Island: No data
South Carolina: $56,020 per year
South Dakota: $57,960 per year
Tennessee: $69,920 per year
Texas: $77,330 per year
Utah: $59,380 per year
Vermont: $72,440 per year
Virginia: $70,710 per year
Washington: $81,310 per year
West Virginia: No data
Wisconsin: $61,110 per year
Wyoming: $65,570 per year
How to become a zoologist
Follow these steps to become a zoologist:
1. Earn a bachelor's degree
You can get a degree in zoology, biology or a related field. In this degree path, you often learn how to work with animals, perform research and present your findings. Zoology specializations include genetics, marine biology, zoo and aquarium science, ecology and animal behavior.
2. Complete internships or volunteer work
While earning your degree, it can help to get practical experience from an internship or volunteer program. Search for internships in areas you're interested in, such as at a zoo, animal shelter, veterinary office or wildlife refuge. If you can't find an internship, there are usually volunteer opportunities available.
3. Gain experience in the field
Zoologists often can find entry-level work after getting a bachelor's degree. You can work as a zookeeper, in conservation or as a research assistant. You might want to work in zoology before going to graduate school to get experience with animals and enhance your qualifications.
4. Stay updated about industry changes
Try to stay current on new research methods, changes to the environment, government regulations and where you can present your findings. You might want to join a professional organization, subscribe to professional journals and attend conferences or workshops. This can ensure your qualifications remain relevant when looking for a job, and it can help you be more successful in this role.
5. Earn a graduate degree
Consider earning a master's or doctoral degree if you want to work in senior zoologist positions. Both of these programs focus on advanced chemistry, biology, research methods and how to present your findings. Master's degrees often require either a comprehensive exam or a thesis to graduate.
Frequently asked questions about zoologists
Here are some frequently asked questions about being a zoologist:
What are some skills zoologists use?
Zoologists love animals and want to learn about them, so try to work on your attention to detail skills and be an active learner. Excellent organizational skills can allow you to follow strict processes, and communication skills make it easier for you to work with other professionals in the field. Try to be flexible about being able to work alone and collaborate with other people.
What’s the job outlook for zoologists?
The BLS projects zoologists and wildlife biologists to have 5% job growth from 2020 to 2030. Although this figure is slower than the average for all occupations in this period, it indicates you still might have a strong chance to earn a job in this competitive field. The agency cites the need for professionals to study interactions between humans and wildlife as the population of humans continues to grow.
This may force humans to expand into new areas, creating threats to existing wildlife there. Because of this, zoologists can study the impact of humans on wildlife in these areas and create conservation plans to protect animals.
Related: Guide to Zoology Jobs
What’s the work environment for zoologists?
Zoologists can work anywhere that focuses on animal behavior and science. Some zoologists work in zoos and aquariums, while others work in nature with wildlife conservation groups, research organizations and government agencies. Some zoologists work at universities as professors. They often work outdoors to perform research and make observations, and they also have indoor duties, such as writing reports or analyzing the data they gather.
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