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Zoologist

Zoologists study animals and their behaviour.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £21,000 to £48,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: Variable per week

1. Entry requirements

You’ll usually need a degree in a subject like zoology, animal ecology, animal behaviour or conservation.

Experience volunteering in conservation work or a related area may help when applying for courses.

For some jobs, particularly in research, you’ll need a relevant postgraduate qualification, like a master’s degree or PhD.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • the ability to carry out detailed work accurately and methodically
  • the ability to plan research, analyse and interpret data, and write reports
  • practical and 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

3. What you'll do

You could work in a range of areas like:

  • developing and testing new drugs
  • improving agricultural crops and livestock
  • disease and pest control
  • conserving endangered habitats and species
  • animal welfare and education
  • developing policies and enforcing regulations for government agencies

You’ll usually specialise in an area like ecology (animal environments), herpetology (reptiles), entomology (insects), parasitology (parasites) or paleozoology (fossil remains).

Your day-to-day tasks will vary depending on your role, but may include:

  • carrying out field and laboratory research
  • studying animals in their natural environment or in captivity
  • identifying, recording and monitoring animal species
  • gathering and interpreting information
  • using complex procedures, like computerised molecular and cellular analysis, and in-vitro fertilisation
  • producing detailed technical reports
  • giving presentations and publishing information in journals and books
  • supervising technicians

4. Salary

Starter: £21,000 to £25,000

Experienced: £25,000 to £30,000 (Research staff)

Highly Experienced: up to £48,000 (Senior research and teaching staff)

Salaries in private industry and other organisations can vary considerably.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

In industry, research and higher education you’ll usually work 37 to 40 hours a week from Monday to Friday. As a field researcher you’ll work variable hours. For example you would need to work at night if you’re studying nocturnal animals.

If you work in conservation you may have to work evenings, weekends and public holidays, to attend evening meetings, supervise volunteers or host public open days.

You may need to live overseas for periods of time for some research roles.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you could move into other jobs like management, marketing, sales, scientific journalism or consultancy.

You could also work and study overseas.

Last updated: 21 December 2016