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Animal science graduates work in more than 500 different jobs in agriculture, industry, teaching and government, according to the American Society of Animal Science. While a bachelor's degree can get you entry-level work in many of these fields, most animal scientists have at least a master's degree. A master's graduate qualifies for higher positions and has additional opportunities in teaching and research.
Graduate to Teaching
A Master of Science degree equips you for vocational school and community college teaching positions in the field of animal science or agricultural science. Depending on your specialization, you may teach classes such as general animal science, beef production, animal nutrition or animal breeding, for example. You can also teach high school, although you'll also need to become certified in your state. If you want to teach at a four-year college or university, you'll need to complete a doctorate.
Go Into Business
A master's degree qualifies you for research associate jobs in agribusiness and food production. For example, you can research animal nutrition for a feed company. Working for a livestock production business, you can study how to breed animals for better production, how to improve animal health and methods of waste management. You can work for meat and dairy processors to develop better methods for producing and processing animal food products, including meat, milk and eggs.
Advance to an Agency
With a master's degree, you can work for a government agency as a research associate, nutrition consultant or breeding consultant. You can also become an agricultural extension specialist for livestock or swine production, for example, or work as a farm adviser or government food inspector. Jobs are available at the state level, but many master's graduates work for federal agencies, including the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Health and the Department of Commerce, to name only a few.
Animal science graduates with a special interest in conservation, the environment, and wild animals work for zoos and wildlife sanctuaries. These are also usually government positions, but most often at the state level. Typical tasks include researching how animals reproduce, resist disease, and move through the environment or estimating populations and collecting specimens for analysis. Other wildlife specialists study the impact of human activity or pollution on animals, report their findings and make recommendations for public policy.
Walk Through the Door
A master's degree in animal science is more like an open door than a limit on your job choices. For example, Rutgers University grads with a master's in animal science have found positions as bird trainers for a pharmaceutical company, 4-H horse program educators, biotech lab quality assurance specialists, U.S. Department of Agriculture animal scientists and horse specialists for a farming company. According to O*Net Online, 53 percent of animal scientists have a doctorate. Completion of a doctorate takes two to four years after the master's, but it will improve your chances of advancement.
- Southern Illinois University: Animal Science -- Career Opportunities
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Agricultural and Food Scientists
- American Society of Animal Science: Animal Science Careers
- Iowa State University: Careers for Animal and Dairy Science Graduates
- O*Net Online: Animal Scientists
- Mt. San Antonio College: Animal Science Handbook
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists
- Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Career Services: What Can I Do with This Degree? Animal Science