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The Experience Needed to Be a Zoologist

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A zoologist is a scientist who studies many different types animals and their habitats. There are four different categories of zoologists: herpetologists, who study reptiles; ichthyologists, who study fish; mammalogists, who study mammals; and ornithologists, who study birds. Many zoologists work at zoos, museums, universities and conservation areas. If you love learning about animals and are willing to travel around the world to be with them, you may enjoy a career as a zoologist. The experience needed to become one can take years and should start even in high school.

High School

Experience starts early. Gain it as early as high school by taking classes in biology, science, chemistry and math. It is important to study hard and get good grades before and during college.


It takes many years of school to become a zoologist. A doctoral degree in zoology or biology is typically needed to become a zoologist, although a bachelor's degree may get you a job as a biological technician, or a master's degree may get you a job as a research assistant. It usually takes four years to earn a bachelor's degree and another one or two years to earn a master's. You will need to go to school for an additional two or three years to receive a doctoral degree.


Getting hands-on training is a great way to learn about animals. Volunteering at the Humane Society or a shelter while getting an education will provide valuable experience as you get closer to becoming a zoologist.

Part-Time Work

Working part-time at a zoo or conservation camp is a great way to learn about wild animals and their habitat. Many zoologists start out by working part-time in these types of settings to gain the experience needed to help them in their zoologist careers.


Zoologists spend a lot of time doing field work and must be physically fit. Hiking and carrying heavy gear can be strenuous, so it's vital for a zoologist to be healthy.


Based in Minnesota, Kristen Middleton has been writing since 2009. She runs a child-care business and, in 2010, authored the book "How to Open Up a Daycare." Middleton contributes to various online publications, specializing in child care, gardening and furniture care.

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