Zoologist Job Description
A zoologist is a life scientist who studies animals. Zoologists study animals by observing and experimenting on them in their natural habitats, in zoological gardens, and in laboratories to establish facts about them.
A zoologist should be curious, quick-witted, alert, observant, calm and analytical, and have the ability to think critically and solve problems. They should love animals and be willing to manage them either by watching after them where they are kept or by performing scientific research to better their well being.
Famous zoologists include Thomas Henry Huxley (English zoologist), Steve Irwin (the crocodile hunter), Karl Mobius (pioneer in the field of ecology), Georges Cuvier (pioneer in the field of comparative anatomy and paleontology), and Charles Wyville Thompson (marine zoologist).
Pursue a career in zoology if you love animals and have a curious nature and passion for science, especially biology and chemistry.
What does a Zoologist do?
Zoologists may do some or all of the following:
- study animal evolution, behavior, ecology, physiology, anatomy and development
- study the relationship between animals and their environment
- study the genetics, the classification and distribution of animals
- perform laboratory and field research
- use scientific equipment
- collect and analyze zoological data
- identify and classify animals
- write research articles and reports
- make presentations on zoological issues
- offer advice on wildlife conservation
- teach at colleges and universities
Where does a Zoologist work?
Places of work for zoologists include:
- Safari parks
- Research centers
- Government institutions
- Non-governmental organizations
- Colleges and universities
Zoologists usually work normal office hours, but may be required to work evenings and weekends depending on where they work and the work in hand. They work outdoors in zoological gardens and indoors in laboratories and offices.
Zoologists travel locally or internationally for fieldwork, and may stay away from home for a period of time and work in all kinds of weather conditions.
What is Required to Become a Zoologist?
To become a zoologist, you will need a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in zoology, ecology, wildlife biology or a related discipline.
Secondary school students interested in studying zoology should take preparatory subjects such as English, biology, geography, physics, chemistry, algebra, calculus, and statistics.
Just to give you an idea, some of the classes that you’ll be taking in college may include:
- Organismal biology
- Animal Evolution
- Animal Ecology
- Animal physiology
- Invertebrate and vertebrate biodiversity
- Cell biology
A zoologist may specialize to become any of the following:
- Ecologist – a scientist who studies the relationship between animals and their environment
- Parasitologist – a scientist who studies parasites
- Epidemiologist – a scientist who studies the spread of diseases
- Mammalogist – a scientist who studies mammals
- Cell biologist – a scientist who studies cells and their functions
- Herpetologist – a scientist who studies reptiles and amphibians, such as snakes and salamanders
- Entomologist - a scientist who studies insects
- Animal nutritionist - a scientist who studies the diet and digestive capabilities of animals
- Ichthyologist – a scientist who studies fish
- Palaeontologist - a scientist who studies evolutionary relationship between fossils animals
- Ornithologist – a scientist who studies birds
Knowledge, Skills and Attributes
Zoologists need to have:
- manual dexterity
- physical fitness
- accuracy and precision
- creativity and innovation
- good eyesight
- good memory
- good hand-eye coordination
- good attention to detail
- good listening and communication skills
- analytical and problem solving skills
- time-management and organizational skills
- observational skills
- math and computer skills
- the ability to work with animals
- the ability to work well independently and in a team
- the ability to work well under pressure and concentrate for long periods
- the ability to use scientific knowledge to solve problems
- knowledge of chemistry
- knowledge of ecology
- knowledge of animal behavior, physiology and diseases
- knowledge of science policy
Should I be a Zoologist?
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