Working as a zoologist allows you study how wild animals behave and interact with their environments. Understanding the average salary for zoologists can help you decide if this field is a good fit for you and your goals, and knowing how different factors can affect a zoologist's salary can help you develop a career plan. In this article, we discuss what a zoologist can expect to earn and what factors influence how much a zoologist is paid.
What is a zoologist?
Zoologists are researchers who study animals, their behavior and how they interact with their environments. They are often interested in 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 over time, 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.
Average zoologist salary
A zoologist's salary depends on many factors, including their level of education, area of focus, experience and where they work. Zoologists with master's or doctoral degrees are able to 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 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 a zoologists' salary is where they work—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 effect their salary.
Since there's no specific salary information for zoologists, here are the average salaries of some of the positions available in zoology:
Zoologist salary by state
Zoologists may make different amounts based on the state in which they work. The cost of living could have an effect on a zoologist's wages, while some states allot more money for zoology and wildlife research than others, meaning zoologists could earn a higher salary.
While there's no specific information on how much zoologists make by state, there are average salaries for wildlife biologists. Wildlife biologists are a type of zoologist that focus on how animals behave and interact in the wild. This may give you an idea of the salary you can expect to earn in different states. Here are the average wildlife biologist salaries in seven states:
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. You will learn how to work with animals, how to perform research and how to present your findings. Zoology specializations include genetics, marine biology, zoo and aquarium science, ecology or animal behavior.
2. Complete internships or volunteer work
While earning your degree, it can be helpful to get practical experience in the form of 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. Work in the field
Zoologists can find entry-level work immediately 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.
4. Keep up to date
You will need 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.
5. Earn a graduate degree
You will need 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 require either a comprehensive exam or a thesis to graduate.
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Frequently asked questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about zoology:
What are some skills I need to be a zoologist?
Zoologists need to love animals and want to learn about them. You will need to be very curious and detail-oriented. You will need to have excellent organizational skills and to be able to follow strict processes. You also need to have strong communication skills to work with other professionals in the field. You should be able to work alone and collaborate with other people.
How do I start working as a zoologist?
You can get experience in zoology while you are in high school and college by volunteering with conservation organizations, zoos, aquariums or wildlife groups. This volunteer work will help you get contacts and mentors in the field. You can start working as a zoologist once you earn your bachelor's degree.
Where do zoologists work?
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.