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?

Illustration of a hand catching tumbling dollars and coins

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.

Related: 17 Jobs in Zoology and the Required Education for Each

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

Related:Zoologist vs. Wildlife Biologist: Career Differences

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.

Related: What Can You Do With a Zoology Major? (Courses and Jobs)

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.

Related: Working For a Zoo: How To Get a Zoo Job and What To Expect

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.

Related: 18 Popular Jobs That Involve Working With Animals

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.

Related: How To Become a Zoologist: Career Requirements, Types of Zoologists and FAQs

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.

Related: What Kind of Degree Does a Zookeeper Need?

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.

Read more: What Are Zoology Degree Skills? (Plus Tips for Improving Them)

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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