Zoologists work in a variety of natural settings or lab facilities studying the interaction between different animal species and between animals and people. Zoos, academic institutions, field study projects and wildlife preserves are some of the work environments common to zoologists. Success in this field relies on a passion for studying animal behavior as well as several core abilities and skills.
Observation and Critical Thinking
Zoology work commonly involves extended periods of time observing animals. In field study projects, zoologists often set up tents or mobile work stations in the middle of natural habitats to study animals. They watch the way they interact, feed and move about. In labs, zoologists examine animals to study genes and health conditions. During observation, they must take thorough notes and critically assess the motives behind what they see.
Written Communication Skills
Zoologists must have verbal communication skills to interact with colleagues, to make presentations to earn funding and to lecture in academic settings. However, written communication skills are often more critical to the work. Zoologists take thorough notes during studies. Those funded by government grants or programs often have to generate reports that outline the processes used, results and recommendations. They also prepare reports for wildlife preserves and conversation programs. Additionally, zoologists who teach publish articles and prepare lectures for students.
Employers of zoologists rely on their expert analysis to make sense of what they observe through field or lab-based studies. Government agencies want feedback on animal populations for use in developing state parks and conservation programs and managing endangered species lists. Private organizations rely on zoologists to assess the best ways to prepare habitats for animals in zoos and other captive environments. In academia, zoology research is useful in moving the field forward so that students can learn new research techniques and the latest findings.
Zoologists must be highly organized in preparation of study expeditions or in maintaining files. Natural studies often involve the use of multiple pieces of equipment, notepads and writing utensils, and outdoor gear. Additionally, zoologists must take food, drinks, bug spray other survival items. Maintaining accurate records of research in organized files is necessary to preparing reports and written work. Government-funded projects especially require a high degree of organization as government agencies usually expect significant documentation of expenditures, activities and results.
2016 Salary Information for Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists
Zoologists and wildlife biologists earned a median annual salary of $60,520 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, zoologists and wildlife biologists earned a 25th percentile salary of $48,360, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $76,320, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 19,400 people were employed in the U.S. as zoologists and wildlife biologists.