Careers in animal studies often require a post-graduate or doctorate-level education, along with a passion for animals, their well-being and their impact on the environment. Although veterinary science might come to mind, there are many other jobs related to the study of animals. An educational background in biology, zoology, entomology, or other sciences, along with comparative psychology, can be useful as a foundation for these careers.
Animal behaviorists study the behavior of animals, including that of bacteria, fungi, invertebrates, fish, reptiles, birds, amphibians and mammals. They study the evolution of animal behaviors and the causes and effects of the environment and the animals. Behaviorists study how animals act in particular circumstances and how they adapt to various environments that change their genes over time. Typically, animal behaviorists teach or conduct research, and a doctorate is usually required, though some junior colleges accept a master's degree.
Biologists and zoologists spend hours observing dolphins and drawing conclusions from their actions and behaviors, including the dolphins' likes and dislikes. Some dolphin researchers focus on acoustics that help dolphins navigate, while others study the relationship between humans and dolphins. A dolphin’s ability to learn, perceive and communicate is of interest to those who pursue the psychological aspects of the research. Dolphin researchers must be willing to conduct field research apart from simply relying on computers, equipment and boat usage. Swimming with dolphins is also essential.
Animal geneticists apply their research in nutrition, reproduction, growth and development to domestic and farm animals. They work for a variety of companies including the government, universities, pharmaceutical companies and breeding associations. They advise producers on ways to improve products and techniques that could enhance animal production efforts. They develop ways to improve animal feeding processes and develop drugs to control animal diseases. Additionally, animal geneticists offer insights on superior breeding combinations to enhance offspring quality.
Wildlife biologists conduct surveys that help in the national census and research of particular wildlife species, such as desert tortoises, Mohave ground squirrels and burrowing owls. They also track sensitive bird and animal species. Normally, botanical knowledge is considered a plus, as wildlife biologists must conduct surveys in the animals' natural habitats. They also must possess excellent documentation and communication skills along with being ready to travel and work independently or in a team. Wildlife biologists usually have at least a master’s degree in environmental science, biology, ecology, or any other science-related discipline. Prior experience is preferred, but newcomers can also join as apprentices until they gain sufficient exposure in the field.