Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists
Career, Salary and Education Information
What They Do: Zoologists and wildlife biologists study animals and other wildlife and how they interact with their ecosystems.
Work Environment: Zoologists and wildlife biologists work in offices, laboratories, or outdoors. Depending on their job, they may spend considerable time in the field gathering data and studying animals in their natural habitats.
How to Become One: Zoologists and wildlife biologists need a bachelor’s degree for entry-level positions; a master’s degree is often needed for higher-level investigative or scientific work. A Ph.D. is necessary to lead independent research and for most university research positions.
Salary: The median annual wage for zoologists and wildlife biologists is $64,650.
Job Outlook: Employment of zoologists and wildlife biologists is projected to show little or no change over the next ten years.
Related Careers: Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of zoologists and wildlife biologists with similar occupations.
Following is everything you need to know about a career as a Zoologist or Wildlife Biologist with lots of details. As a first step, take a look at some of the following jobs, which are real jobs with real employers. You will be able to see the very real job career requirements for employers who are actively hiring. The link will open in a new tab so that you can come back to this page to continue reading about the career:
Recently posted wildlife biologist jobs
- State of Louisiana
- Monroe, LA
SUPPLEMENTAL INFORMATIONThe Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is responsible for ... This position reports directly to the north regional biologist manager. Physical demands include ...
- Anchor QEA
- Irvine, CA
Education: Bachelor of Science degree in fish or wildlife biology , ecology, natural resources management, environmental science, or related discipline (a Masters level degree is preferred
Biological Science Tech (Wildlife)
- Department Of The Interior
- Hilo, HI
This position is a Biological Science Tech ( Wildlife ), GS- 0404-7 working in Hilo, Hawaii for the R1-Big Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex.This position is also open to status candidates under ...
Biologist - Project Manager
- Pasadena, CA
Bachelor's degree in Biology , Ecology, Botany, Wildlife Biology , or related environmental technical ... discipline * Minimum of 5-10 years experience as a Biologist * Working knowledge of common plant ...
Natural Resources Project Manager
- TRC Companies, Inc.
- Friendswood, TX
Certified Professional Wetland Scientist (PWS) Certified Wildlife Biologist (CWB) Project Management Professional (PMP) TRC is an equal opportunity employer: disability/veteran. We celebrate ...
Senior Scientist or Consultant - Permitting Specialist
- Integral Consulting Inc.
- Santa Rosa, CA
You have a background in a field of biology (e.g., Botany, Fisheries, or Wildlife Biology ) with experience in California. You are a strategic thinker who thrives on the challenges of complex ...
What Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists Do[About this section] [To Top]
Zoologists and wildlife biologists study animals and other wildlife and how they interact with their ecosystems. They study the physical characteristics of animals, animal behaviors, and the impacts humans have on wildlife and natural habitats.
Duties of Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists
Zoologists and wildlife biologists typically do the following:
- Develop and conduct experimental studies with animals in controlled or natural surroundings
- Collect biological data and specimens for analysis
- Study the characteristics of animals, such as their interactions with other species, reproduction, population dynamics, diseases, and movement patterns
- Analyze the influence that human activity has on wildlife and their natural habitats
- Research, initiate, and maintain ways of improving breeding programs that support healthy game animals, endangered species, or other wild populations of land or aquatic life
- Estimate, monitor, and manage wildlife populations and invasive plants and animals
- Develop and implement programs to reduce risk to human activities from wildlife and invasive species, such as keeping wildlife from impacting airport operations or livestock and crop production
- Write research papers, reports, and scholarly articles that explain their findings
- Give presentations on research findings to academics and the general public
- Develop conservation plans and make recommendations on wildlife conservation and management issues to policymakers and the general public
Zoologists and wildlife biologists perform a variety of scientific tests and experiments. For example, they take blood samples from animals to assess their nutrition levels, check animals for disease and parasites, and tag animals in order to track them. Although the roles and abilities of zoologists and wildlife biologists often overlap, zoologists typically conduct scientific investigations and basic research on particular types of animals, such as birds or amphibians, whereas wildlife biologists are more likely to study specific ecosystems or animal populations, such as a particular at-risk species. Wildlife biologists also do applied work, such as the conservation and management of wildlife populations.
Zoologists and wildlife biologists use geographic information systems (GIS), modeling software, and other computer programs to estimate wildlife populations and track the movements of animals. They also use these computer programs to forecast the spread of invasive species or diseases, project changes in the availability of habitat, and assess other potential threats to wildlife.
Zoologists and wildlife biologists conduct research for a variety of purposes. For example, many zoologists and wildlife biologists work to increase our knowledge and understanding of wildlife species. Traditionally, many wildlife biologists researched ways to encourage abundant game animal populations to support recreational hunting and tourism. Today, many also work with public officials in conservation efforts that protect species from threats and help animal populations return to and remain at sustainable levels.
Most zoologists and wildlife biologists work on research teams with other scientists and technicians. For example, zoologists and wildlife biologists may work with environmental scientists and hydrologists to monitor water pollution and its effects on fish populations.
Zoologists generally specialize first in either vertebrates or invertebrates and then in specific species. Following are some examples of specialization by species:
- Cetologists study marine mammals, such as whales and dolphins.
- Entomologists study insects, such as beetles and butterflies.
- Herpetologists study reptiles and amphibians, such as snakes and frogs.
- Ichthyologists study wild fish, such as sharks and lungfish.
- Malacologists study mollusks, such as snails and clams.
- Mammalogists study mammals, such as monkeys and bears.
- Ornithologists study birds, such as hawks and penguins.
- Teuthologists study cephalopods, such as octopuses and cuttlefish.
Other zoologists and wildlife biologists are identified by the aspects of zoology and wildlife biology they study, such as evolution and animal behavior. Following are some examples:
- Anatomy is the study of structure of organisms and their parts.
- Embryology is the study of the development of embryos and fetuses.
- Ethology, sometimes called behavioral ecology, is the study of animal behaviors as natural or adaptive traits.
- Histology, or microscopic anatomy, is the study of cells and tissues in plants and animals.
- Physiology is the study of the normal function of living systems.
- Soil zoology is the study of animals which live fully or partially in the soil.
- Teratology is the study of abnormal physiological development.
- Zoography is the study of descriptive zoology, and describes plants and animals.
Many people with a zoology and wildlife biology background become high school teachers or college or university professors. For more information, see the profiles on high school teachers and postsecondary teachers.
Work Environment for Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists[About this section] [To Top]
Zoologists and wildlife biologists hold about 17,100 jobs. The largest employers of zoologists and wildlife biologists are as follows:
|State government, excluding education and hospitals||43%|
|Federal government, excluding postal service||24%|
|Management, scientific, and technical consulting services||6%|
|Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences||5%|
|Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private||4%|
Zoologists and wildlife biologists work in offices, laboratories, and outdoors. Depending on their job and interests, they may spend considerable time in the field gathering data and studying animals in their natural habitats. Other zoologists and wildlife biologists may spend very little time in the field.
Fieldwork can require zoologists and wildlife biologists to travel to remote locations anywhere in the world. For example, cetologists studying whale populations may spend months at sea on a research ship. Other zoologists and wildlife biologists may spend significant amounts of time in deserts or remote mountainous and woodland regions. The ability to travel and study nature firsthand is often viewed as a benefit of working in these occupations, but few modern amenities may be available to those who travel in remote areas.
Fieldwork can be physically demanding, and zoologists and wildlife biologists work in both warm and cold climates and in all types of weather. For example, ornithologists who study penguins in Antarctica may need to spend significant amounts of time in cold weather and on ships, which may cause seasickness. In all environments, working as a zoologist or wildlife biologist can be emotionally demanding because interpersonal contact may be limited.
Injuries and Illnesses for Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists
Some zoologists and wildlife biologists handle wild animals or spend significant amounts of time outdoors in difficult terrain or in inclement weather. Rates of illness and injury for these workers is not high, but precautions should be taken when handling wildlife or working in remote areas.
Zoologist and Wildlife Biologist Work Schedules
Most zoologists and wildlife biologists work full time. They may work long or irregular hours, especially when doing fieldwork. Zoologists and wildlife biologists who work with nocturnal animals may need to work at night at least some of the time.
How to Become a Zoologist or Wildlife Biologist[About this section] [To Top]
Get the education you need: Find schools for Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists near you!
Zoologists and wildlife biologists typically need a bachelor's degree for entry-level positions; a master's degree is often needed for higher level investigative or scientific work. A Ph.D. is necessary to lead independent research and for most university research positions.
Education for Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists
Zoologists and wildlife biologists typically need at least a bachelor's degree. Many schools offer bachelor's degree programs in zoology and wildlife biology or in a closely related field, such as ecology. An undergraduate degree in biology with coursework in zoology and wildlife biology also is good preparation for a career as a zoologist or wildlife biologist.
Zoologists and wildlife biologists typically need at least a master's degree for higher level investigative or scientific work. A Ph.D. is necessary for the majority of independent research positions and for university research positions. Most Ph.D.-level researchers need to be familiar with computer programming and statistical software.
Students typically take zoology and wildlife biology courses in ecology, anatomy, wildlife management, and cellular biology. They also take courses that focus on a particular group of animals, such as herpetology (reptiles and amphibians) or ornithology (birds). Courses in botany, chemistry, and physics are important because zoologists and wildlife biologists must have a well-rounded scientific background. Wildlife biology programs may focus on applied techniques in habitat analysis and conservation. Students also should take courses in mathematics and statistics, given that zoologists and wildlife biologists must be able to do complex data analysis.
Knowledge of computers is important because zoologists and wildlife biologists frequently use advanced computer software, such as geographic information systems (GIS) and modeling software, to do their work.
Important Qualities for Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists
Communication skills. Zoologists and wildlife biologists write scientific papers and give talks to the public, policymakers, and academics.
Critical-thinking skills. Zoologists and wildlife biologists need sound reasoning and judgment to draw conclusions from experimental results and scientific observations.
Emotional stamina and stability. Zoologists and wildlife biologists may need to endure long periods with little human contact. As with other occupations that deal with animals, emotional stability is important in working with injured or sick animals.
Interpersonal skills. Zoologists and wildlife biologists typically work on teams. They must be able to work effectively with others to achieve their goals or to negotiate conflicting goals.
Observation skills. Zoologists and wildlife biologists must be able to notice slight changes in an animal's behavior or appearance.
Outdoor skills. Zoologists and wildlife biologists may need to chop firewood, swim in cold water, navigate rough terrain in poor weather, carry heavy packs or equipment long distances, or perform other activities associated with life in remote areas.
Problem-solving skills. Zoologists and wildlife biologists try to find the best possible solutions to threats that affect wildlife, such as disease and habitat loss.
Other Experience for Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists
Some zoologists and wildlife biologists may need to have well-rounded outdoor skills. They may need to be able to drive a tractor, boat, or ATV, use a generator, or provide for themselves in remote locations.
Many zoology and wildlife biology students gain practical experience through internships, volunteer work, or some other type of employment during college or soon after graduation.
Advancement for Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists
Zoologists and wildlife biologists typically receive greater responsibility and independence in their work as they gain experience. More education also can lead to greater responsibility. Zoologists and wildlife biologists with a Ph.D. usually lead independent research and control the direction and content of projects. In addition, they may be responsible for finding much of their own funding.
Zoologist and Wildlife Biologist Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]
The median annual wage for zoologists and wildlife biologists is $64,650. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $42,420, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $103,900.
The median annual wages for zoologists and wildlife biologists in the top industries in which they work are as follows:
|Federal government, excluding postal service||$81,890|
|Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences||$64,420|
|State government, excluding education and hospitals||$63,580|
|Management, scientific, and technical consulting services||$61,920|
|Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private||$61,780|
Most zoologists and wildlife biologists work full time. They may work long or irregular hours, especially when doing fieldwork.
Job Outlook for Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists[About this section] [To Top]
Employment of zoologists and wildlife biologists is projected to show little or no change over the next ten years.
Despite limited employment growth, about 1,500 openings for zoologists and wildlife biologists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Most of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.
Employment of Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists
Demand for zoologists and wildlife biologists may be limited by budgetary constraints, as jobs and funding for these workers often come from state, federal, and local governments. However, some zoologists and wildlife biologists are expected to be needed to help combat the loss of biodiversity caused by human activities, as well as to research climate-driven ecosystem changes. These workers also may be needed to develop and implement conservation plans to reduce threats to animals and protect natural resources.
|Occupational Title||Employment, 2021||Projected Employment, 2031||Change, 2021-31|
|Zoologists and wildlife biologists||17,100||17,200||1||100|
A portion of the information on this page is used by permission of the U.S. Department of Labor.