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Career as a Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists

Who is a Zoologist/Wildlife Biologist?

Zoologists and wildlife biologists study animals and other wildlife, and how they interact with their ecosystems. They study the physical characteristics of animals, animal behaviours, and the impacts humans have on wildlife and natural habitats. Zoologists and wildlife biologists specialize in the study of the origin, diseases, behaviour and life processes of animals and wildlife. Some dissect dead animals to study their structure, while others experiment on live animals in natural or controlled settings. Usually, zoologists are identified by the type of animal they study.

What does a Zoologist/Wildlife Biologist do?

  • Collecting biological data and specimens for analysis

  • Studying the characteristics of animals, such as their interactions with other species, reproduction, population dynamics, diseases and movement patterns

  • Analyzing the influence human activity has on wildlife and their natural habitats

  • Estimating, monitoring and managing wildlife populations and invasive plants and animals

  • Writing research papers, reports and scholarly articles explaining findings

  • Giving presentations on research findings to other wildlife professionals and the public

  • Developing plans and making recommendations on wildlife conservation and management issues to policymakers and the public

Types of Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists

Many zoologists and wildlife biologists study specific species. The following are examples of those who specialize by species:

  • Cytologists study marine mammals, such as whales and dolphins and the characteristics of chromosomes and cells.

  • Entomologists study insects, such as beetles and butterflies.

  • Herpetologists study reptiles and amphibians, such as snakes and frogs.

  • Ichthyologists study wild fish, such as sharks and lungfish.

  • Mammalogists study mammals, such as monkeys and bears.

  • Ornithologists study birds, such as hawks and penguins.

Some wildlife biologists study animals based on where they live. The following are examples of those who specialize by habitat:

  • Limnologists study organisms that live in freshwater.

  • Marine biologists study organisms that live in saltwater

  • Terrestrial biologists study organisms that live on land, including plants and microbes. Microbiologists study microbes exclusively.

Other zoologists and wildlife biologists are identified by the aspects of zoology and wildlife biology they study, such as evolution and animal behaviour. The following are some examples:

  • Botanists study plants, including their growth, diseases, and structures. Agronomy is the plant science concerning crop production. For more information on agronomists, see the profile on agricultural and food scientists.

  • Ecologists study ecosystems, which include all relationships between organisms and with the surrounding environments.

  • Evolutionary biologists study the origins of species and the changes in their inherited characteristics over generations.

Many people with a zoology and wildlife biology background become high school teachers or college or university professors. For more information, see the profiles on high school teachers and postsecondary teachers.

Workplace and Environment of a Zoologist or Wildlife Biologist:

They work in offices, laboratories, and outdoors. Depending on their position and interests, they may spend considerable time in the field gathering data and studying animals in their natural habitats.

Fieldwork can require zoologists and wildlife biologists to travel to remote locations anywhere in the world. For example, marine biologists may spend months at sea on a research ship. Other zoologists and wildlife biologists may spend significant amounts of time in deserts or remote mountainous and woodland regions. This ability to travel and study nature firsthand is often viewed as a benefit of working in this field, but there may be limited availability of modern amenities while traveling in remote areas.

Fieldwork can be physically demanding, and zoologists and wildlife biologists work in both warm and cold climates and in all types of weather. For example, marine biologists may need to spend significant amounts of time in cold water and on ships, which may cause seasickness. In all environments, working as a zoologist or wildlife biologist can be emotionally demanding since interpersonal contact may be limited.

Knowledge Areas to be Acquired

BiologyKnowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.

GeographyKnowledge of principles and methods for describing the features of land, sea, and air masses, including their physical characteristics, locations, interrelationships, and distribution of plant, animal, and human life.

English LanguageKnowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

Computers and ElectronicsKnowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.

MathematicsKnowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.

Administration and ManagementKnowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modelling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.

Customer and Personal ServiceKnowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.

ClericalKnowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.

Law and GovernmentKnowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.

Education and TrainingKnowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.


  • Communication skills: Wildlife biologists must be able to effectively write research papers and reports. They also need to communicate clearly—verbally and in writing—with the public, policymakers, and other stakeholders.

  • Observation skills: It's critical to notice slight changes in an animal’s behaviour or appearance and observe several elements in animals' surroundings.

  • Critical-thinking skills: Wildlife biologists must be able to draw conclusions from experiments, research results, and scientific observations.

  • Problem-solving skills: Wildlife biologists must find solutions to help protect animals and wildlife from possible threats.

  • Stamina: Physical endurance is essential. Many zoologists spend weeks or months at a time in the field gathering information and studying animals in their natural surroundings. Zoologists often travel to remote locations to conduct field research. They must complete their research in both warm and cold climates, and in all weather conditions. Zoologists need emotional stamina as well, because the job can come with criticism and high-stress situations.

A Typical Workday

Most zoologists are employed by museums, zoos or research laboratories. A typical day for a zoologist consists of checking in with all the animals under his care and making sure that they have plenty of food and water. Another part of the workday is spent doing research on animals, which includes dissecting and examining different animal specimens as well as preparing slides to examine the various specimens for diseased tissue. A zoologist also will spend the bulk of his workday observing the animals in their natural habitats and making notes on mating patterns, aggressions, eating and sleeping habits, and group behaviours.

They may conduct research studies, census projects or complex data analysis during their fieldwork, analyzing how variables such as disease, nutrition, and interactions with other wildlife affect the observed population. As a wildlife biologist, they may survey herds from a distance to measure their numbers, relative age, interrelationships, and other characteristics. Trapping, tagging, or relocating animals for conservation purposes may also be necessary, as may breeding and raising specimens for study or dissecting animals for examination.

Personality Traits

  • Adventurous- Working in the field typically involves extensive travel, often to remote areas that may lack all modern conveniences. Travel to other countries may bring the biologist into contact with indigenous populations with vastly different cultures.

  • Good Communicator- In the field, information on animal movements, issues or other pertinent data can arrive via telephone or radio, or the local human inhabitants might have critical information to relay. Wildlife biologists must report their findings, usually through written reports or professional papers, but at times, they must also give presentations or speeches.

  • Interpersonal Skills- Typically, wildlife biologists work as part of a team. While conducting laboratory research, team members may consist of lab technicians, clerical staff, veterinarians and other wildlife biologists. In the field, a team might have more than one biologist, supported by a tracker or guide, veterinary personnel, a medic, one or more drivers and, if needed, an interpreter.

  • Detail-Oriented- Their data can sometimes form the basis for future expeditions or political decisions. Whether they are conducting a census of mountain goats, testing water samples for industrial pollution or following the migration trails of a grazing herd, wildlife biologists must make careful observations and record their findings accurately. They need to take all of the details, analyze them and form logical conclusions.

  • Stamina- Stamina can be emotional, such as persisting when results are few or obstacles are numerous. However, wildlife biologists working in the field also need physical stamina. Some areas are inaccessible even with the most rugged vehicle or sure-footed mount, requiring the biologist to hike in while carrying his equipment and gear. Days may begin early and end late. Temperatures may be extreme, and wildlife biologists may encounter rain, snow, dust storms or other weather patterns that prove uncomfortable.

  • Awareness of Limited Opportunities- With a projected growth rate of only 7 percent through 2020, a mere 1,500 new jobs will be created. Because many of these jobs are with government agencies at the federal, state or local level, tax revenues and agency budgets can affect actual growth. Nor do wildlife biologists reap outstanding financial rewards. Therefore, the need to be aware.


  • Applicants must hold Bachelor’s Degree in biology or ecology with coursework in anatomy, zoology, biology, wildlife, wildlife management, cellular biology or even botany, physics and chemistry field.

  • After getting Bachelor’s Degree in relevant discipline one should also gain experience in relevant specialty. For being a professor, Master’s and Ph.D. programs are must.

  • Other than, high level wildlife biology researchers must develop a working knowledge of computers, particularly with geographic information systems (GIS), statistical software, and other computer programming techniques used to enhance the research process.

Job Outlook

The overall job outlook for zoologist and wildlife biologist careers has been positive since 2004. Vacancies for this career have increased by 15.88 percent nationwide in that time, with an average growth of 2.65 percent per year. This represents an annual increase of 3.27 percent over the next few years. Employment of zoologists and wildlife biologists is expected to grow 21 percent over the next decade, which is faster than average for all occupations. Job growth continues to be spurred by biotechnological research. A very rapid employment gain is expected over the next few decades, partly because of the growth of the biotechnology industry.

Although there will be a continued demand for zoologists and wildlife biologists, opportunities will be limited because of the small size of the field.


Zoology and wildlife biology graduates get paid almost same in India, initially one can expect anywhere between 8–15k. And gained some basic experience one may draw an annual income of 2.4–4L PA but it depends from agency to agency.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What hours do wildlife biologists work?

A wildlife biologist's hours can vary greatly, depending on the types of animal they are studying. To learn more about a nocturnal creature, they may be required to go out at night to observe their behaviour, but diurnal animals can be studied during daylight hours. Most wildlife biologists work full-time, and although the hours in the field can be irregular, there is usually office and administrative work which will be completed during standard office hours.

Who employs wildlife biologists?

A number of government departments have wildlife biologists on staff, including the Fish and Wildlife service and planning departments will often consult with wildlife biologists when considering applications. Wildlife biologists can also work in zoos, educational establishments and research facilities.

What speciality can wildlife biologists choose?

Wildlife biologists can choose their specialty by environment, becoming a marine wildlife expert for example or focusing on swamps and wetlands. They can also specialize by project type, choosing to work specifically to protect endangered species or in animal relocation.

Are there any animals one may prefer not to work with?

It is not uncommon for Zoologists to be afraid of certain animals, such as spiders or sharks. In the event that a candidate has a specific phobia, he/she should identify an academic niche that would not require interaction with said animal.

Is there a difference between zoologists and wildlife biologists?

Both zoologists and wildlife biologists study animals, but in different ways and for different reasons. Another difference is the places they work. Once you're in the job, though, you'll find that the activities are often the same, although your goals differ somewhat. In either case, you'll help solve the mysteries of animal behaviour, and how to keep animals safe from threats to their habitats.

What Are the Dangers of Being a Zoologist?

Zoologists, whether they work in laboratories or outdoors, also face dangers in their jobs that other workers might not encounter.

  • Animal Attacks- Zoologists can be caught off guard and approached aggressively by animals they have been studying and working with for several months or years. If zoologists are in the wild, away from other humans, they could die due without having anyone present to provide them with emergency medical care. Furthermore, small disturbances -- swinging a stick or crouching, for example -- might cause some animals to feel threatened, which can cause them to attack trained zoologists.

  • Injuries- While performing their jobs, zoologists travel to untamed areas, both on land and water, which can put them at risk of suffering injuries not caused by animal attacks. For example, if zoologists are studying animals that live in mountain areas they can slip and fall off sliding rocks. Their equipment can also malfunction, causing them to endure injuries that are not caused by animals. An instance of such injuries could occur when a zoologist's boat stops working on deep oceans, rivers and lakes. Zoologists can also be at risk of drowning if their equipment malfunctions.

  • Diseases- Poisonous plants and diseased animals present dangers for zoologists, whether they work indoors or outdoors. Improper handling of diseased animal blood can cause illness in zoologists working in laboratories, for example. Out in the field, zoologists might accidentally ingest poisonous plants and become ill.

  • Environmental Hazards-Extreme temperatures can put zoologists at risk of dehydration or hypothermia. Other environmental hazards include food or clean water shortages, particularly if zoologists enter unfamiliar terrain. Zoologists who spend extended time away from their families can experience emotional and psychological distress.

Is zoology an art or a science?

Zoology (also known as animal science) is the branch of biology devoted to the study of animal life. It covers areas ranging from the structure of organisms to the sub-cellular unit of life. Some zoologists are interested in the biology of particular groups of animals. Others are concerned with the structure and function of animal bodies. Still others study how new animals are formed and how their characteristics are passed on from one generation to another. Zoologists study the interactions of animals with one another and their environments, as well as the significance of the behaviour of animals.

Zoology is both descriptive and analytical. It can be approached either as a basic science or as an applied science. A worker in basic zoology is interested in knowledge of animals for its own sake without consideration of the direct application of the information gained. In contrast, workers in applied zoology are interested in information that will directly benefit humans and animals (medicine, for example).

Is it worth becoming a wildlife biologist?

Becoming a Wildlife Biologist is a fantastic position for someone who enjoys spending time outdoors and traveling. Many Wildlife Biologists spend the majority of their time working in the field, observing animals in their natural habitats. Some Wildlife Biologists work in labs or offices, but many only find themselves in these locations for small amounts of time. This is the perfect career for an adventurer who likes to work in a variety of environments.

Wildlife Biologists often cite physical exhaustion and loneliness as the top job hazards. They may be required to spend time in remote areas without modern conveniences and work long hours for observational purposes. Some kinds of work will require you to have limited contact with other people, possibly straining relationships and personal emotions.

However, it's important to note that Wildlife Biologists do not always work alone. In fact, many of them work on research teams, meaning that they may unite with colleagues at the end of an observation period to discuss findings.

What are the related degree options for a Wildlife Biologist?

Some of the Related Degree Options for Wildlife Biologists:

  • Environmental Microbiology Degree

  • Environmental Biology Degree

  • Meteorology Online Degree and Certificate

  • Anthropology Bachelor's Degree Online Programs

  • Biomimicry Degrees - Online and Campus.

YouTube links for further reference:

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