How to become a Zoologist. Read through our comprehensive job guide to learn more about this career.
What does a Zoologist do?
Zoologists work in a wide range of job areas that involve studying animals and their behaviour, including:
- development and testing of new drugs
- improvement of agricultural crops and livestock
- disease and pest control
- conservation of endangered habitats and species
- animal welfare and education
- policy development and enforcement of regulations for government agencies.
You would usually have a specialism, for example ecology (animal environments), herpetology (reptiles), entomology (insects) or parasitology (parasites).
Your tasks would vary depending on the particular job, but could include:
- conducting field and laboratory research
- studying animals in their natural environment or in captivity
- identifying, recording and monitoring animal species
- gathering and interpreting data
- using complex procedures such as computerised molecular and cellular analysis and in-vitro fertilisation
- producing detailed technical reports
- giving presentations and publishing information in journals and books.
- supervising technicians.
In industry, research and higher education you would usually work regular hours from Monday to Friday. As a field researcher you would work variable hours – for example, you would need to work at night if you are studying nocturnal animals.
If you work in conservation you may have to work evenings, weekends and public holidays, for example to attend evening meetings, supervise volunteers or host public open days.
How much does a Zoologist earn?
Salary and pay information:
- Zoologists in research posts can earn around £33,000 a year.
- Senior research staff can earn around £52,000.
Salaries for those working in private industry and other organisations vary considerably.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
You will usually need a degree in a subject such as zoology, animal ecology, parasitology, animal behaviour or conservation.
To search for foundation degrees, HNDs and degrees, see the UCAS website. You should check entry requirements with individual colleges or universities.
For some jobs, particularly in research, you will need a postgraduate qualification, usually a PhD. Visit Hobsons Postgrad to search for courses.
- Hobsons Postgrad
Training and Development
You will need to develop your skills and knowledge throughout your career. Membership of professional organisations such as the Institute of Zoology (IoZ) and the Society of Biology will give you the opportunity for continuing professional development (CPD) and networking.
You can also do a wide range of professional development courses through the Field Studies Council.
For some jobs, such as conservation and fieldwork, you are likely to need experience in subjects such as scientific data collection and research methods, which you could gain by volunteering. See the IoZ website for details of volunteering opportunities, research projects, postgraduate courses and PhD studentships.
Before you are awarded a PhD you will need to:
- work on a research project alongside senior colleagues to develop the skills you will need for individual research
- produce a thesis based on your findings
- be interviewed at length about your research.
Skills and Knowledge
- an interest in animals and the environment
- an aptitude for science, particularly biology and chemistry
- the ability to conduct detailed work accurately and methodically
- the ability to plan research, analyse and interpret data, and write reports
- practical skills
- problem solving skills
- patience, perseverance and the ability to concentrate for long periods
- the ability to work as part of a multi-disciplinary team
- strong communication and IT skills.
You could be employed by:
- government research institutions
- the NHS
- medical research establishments
- museums and other cultural organisations
- zoos and wildlife trusts
- environmental protection agencies.
In the private sector you could work as a consultant or in a technical and research role, for example in:
You could use your experience as a zoologist to move into other jobs such as management, marketing, sales or scientific journalism. You could also have the opportunity to work and study overseas.