Zoologists study the evolution, anatomy, physiology, behaviour, distribution and classification of animals. They look at species and populations of animals and work with animals out in the field, in captivity or in a laboratory.
As a zoologist, you can specialise in a particular area; for example, working with reptiles and amphibians (herpetologist), mammals (mammologist), birds (ornithologist), fossil remains (paleozoologist) or parasites (parasitologist).
Job titles vary greatly and may include zoological field assistant, field biologist, wildlife biologist, conservation biologist or field assistant.
Types of work
You could work in a range of areas including:
- conservation of endangered species and habitats
- animal education and welfare
- controlling pests and diseases
- drug development and testing
- improving livestock and crops in agriculture
- teaching and research.
- study animals in captivity or in their natural environment
- conduct laboratory and/or field research
- collect, store and prepare specimens for analysis
- identify, record and monitor species of animals
- manage large data sets and use statistical software packages
- use modelling software to predict future scenarios, such as changes in habitats or population numbers
- write scientific reports and issue recommendations
- manage animal care, movement and enclosures
- rehabilitate and release animals back into their natural environment
- identify, monitor and address invasive species and other threats
- use software or equipment, such as geographical information systems (GIS), global positioning systems (GPS), sonographs, terrestrial locomotor activity monitoring systems and video recorders
- work with other professionals and support staff
- keep up-to-date with relevant research, policies and legislation
- teach in field or research centres
- educate members of the public, which could include children or adults
- supervise volunteers or assistants.
You’ll usually need a degree in a relevant scientific subject like zoology, biology, animal ecology, marine biology, animal behaviour, conservation or environmental biology.
Experience volunteering in conservation work or a related area may help when applying for courses.
- research skills, such as a strong understanding of scientific methods and the tools and resources that you need
- strong written communication skills; for example, when writing scientific reports or creating content for a non-specialist audience
- presentation skills for specialists and for those with little knowledge of the field
- project management and team-working skills, which may include working in varied teams, for example, with a science coordinator, rangers, or volunteers
- IT skills when recording, analyzing and presenting data and reports
- good numerical reasoning as you will need to input data and interpret statistical findings
- attention to detail as you will need to be observant and pick up on small details to ensure accuracy
- patience and perseverance as you may have to make observations for prolonged periods of time
- practical skills; for example, when handling animals or using equipment
- the ability to problem-solve as some things will not go to plan, for example, when capturing and tagging animals in the wild
- organizational skills to plan what equipment you will need and how you will go about conducting your research and managing a varied workload.