Zoology is a branch of biology related to the animal kingdom. Like biology, it attracts people who want to study and learn more about the natural world, but with a focus on animals, both living and extinct. Someone who wants to study animals in their natural environment, breed, manage, or care for them would be drawn to the field. Also, students looking to conduct research, are mathematically and scientifically inclined, want to travel or be out in the field, and are curious would also be well-suited for zoology.
Through studying zoology, students will learn about animals and how they live in their environment, including how they interact with other members of their species, other animals, and their natural surroundings. Students generally will start off with basic concepts about nature and biology and gradually move on to more advanced ones. They will also learn about various animal groups, such as reptiles, mammals, and fish, and may even specialize and study one specific species. Through laboratory work, they will learn research methods, such as the scientific method, and laboratory tools. They may also develop their analytical and problem-solving skills.
Classes and Assignments of a Zoology Major
Zoology has a strong biology base, so students can expect to take courses in the natural sciences, such as physics, chemistry, biology, and anatomy and physiology, as well as mathematics, statistics, and computer technology. Core zoology classes will cover animal science, veterinary science, animal behavior, animal husbandry, and ecology. In advanced zoology study, students may focus on a specific area, such as fisheries and aquaculture, environmental toxicology, or wildlife ecology and management. They may also further specialize in a specific group, such as mammals, reptiles, fish, or birds, or a single species.
Zoology classes have intensive lectures and laboratory sessions. Student can expect to spend significant hours in the lab conducting research, and even dissecting dead animals. Programs tend to be very hands-on, and there are limited opportunities to earn a zoology degree online completely for those interested in distance learning. Undergraduate research, internships, and work at facilities such as zoos are also highly stressed during your education to gain real-world experience, build up your resume, and make contacts.
Degree Levels for a Zoology Major
- Associate. Online associate zoology degrees would primarily serve as a preparatory program for continued study at the bachelor's level. An associate degree on its own is not how to become a zoologist and wildlife biologist, as it doesn’t provident a sufficient background in animal science and biology.
- Bachelor's. Zoologists typically need online bachelors zoology degrees to go into the field. Graduate level degrees like online masters zoology degrees, however, are generally preferred, if not required for certain research or teaching positions, so a bachelor's degree would prepare students for continued study at the master's or doctorate level in areas such as animal anatomy, ecology, evolution, genetics, or physiology, where they can further develop the zoology skills needed for research or education. Others may go into related professional programs, such as medical or veterinary medicine, or find work with conservation agencies.
- Master's. As mentioned earlier, graduate-level degrees, such as a master's degree, is generally required for advanced research and teaching positions. Some students may have studied biology as an undergraduate and now learning the specific skills needed to be zoologist, or they want to specialize in a specific field, such as wildlife ecology or population biology. Upon graduating, students may go into government service, research, or teaching.
- Doctoral. Students interested in teaching at the university level or conducting original research would pursue a Ph.D. in zoology. At this level, you can also further specialize in a specific area, such as wildlife ecology and management, genetics, environmental toxicology, or fisheries and aquaculture, or a specific species.
A Future as a Zoology Major
Zoologists manage animals both in captivity and in the wild. They may find employment with zoos, naturally, as well as aquariums and marine parks, state or federal governmental agencies, laboratories, educational institutions, museums, or environmental conservation groups. Advanced research or professorial teaching positions are generally jobs for a zoologist with a PhD. Other zoologist may go into careers not directly related to working with animals, such as teaching biology to high school students, leading field trips in a park, or regulating environmental laws. Those who do work closely with animals may do so as zookeepers, managing zoo populations; wildlife rehabilitators, tending to sick animals; or researchers, where could do anything from breed and raise animals to study them in their natural surroundings.
Employment of zoologists is expected to grow due to continued demand, though there will be limited opportunities due to the small size of the field. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of zoologists is expected to grow 13% through 2018, which is faster than the average for all occupations. The industries with the highest level s of employment of zoologists, as well as wildlife biologists, are the state government, federal government, scientific consulting services, and scientific research services. Salary will vary by education level, location, field, and employer, though the mean annual salary for zoologists and wildlife biologists is $61,660, according to the BLS.
Students with a degree in Zoology are considered well prepared for
becoming Zoologists and wildlife biologists.