If you’re looking for a job as a zoologist, or in a zoology-related field, you’re in luck. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for zoologists and wildlife biologists is strong, and is expected to grow by a healthy seven percent through 2010.
One of the factors fueling this demand in zoology jobs is the need for skilled workers who can help study the impact that population growth in the US and abroad is having on wildlife of all types.
As urban areas continue to expand, and more of the planet is developed and industrialized, this growth is putting an ever increasing burden on wildlife, and the habitats in which they live. Planet Earth is changing at a rapid pace, and the effects of global warming and other factors has forced many wildlife species to adapt or face extinction.
Zoology jobs are also available at the state and local level, as wildlife biologists and zoologists are needed in such agencies as the Forest Service, or the US Fish and Wildlife service. There are also private sector jobs available in this field, in areas that involve experimentation, research, and wildlife conservation.
ABOUT THE JOB
There is some confusion among the general public as to what zoologists and wildlife biologists actually do. Many people believe that professionals in this field work primarily in zoos, or wildlife parks, but that is not always the case.
Jobs in zoology often involve performing research in the field, or in a controlled setting such as a laboratory or zoo habitat. Some zoologists and wildlife biologists spend the bulk of their time tracking animal behavior on computers, using advanced modeling software to analyze behavior patterns and movements of animal herds in the wild. Radio tracking devices are often placed on individual animals, and data is relayed to satellites so that the animals movements can be recorded over a period of months or even years.
This data is then compiled and used to forecast future trends. Human expansion isn’t the only challenge that animals in the wild face, there are also threats from diseases, invasive species (some of whom are introduced into the habitat by unwitting people), changes in the plants that animals rely on for food, and more.
One of the primary goals of zoologists and wildlife biologists is to increase the knowledge and understanding of animals, both on land and under water. Even in the Twenty-First Century, much about wild animal species and their behavior is unknown. Professionals in this field also work hand-in-hand with public officials in the development of conservation plans and wildlife management, so that human development can progress without destroying our natural environment.
Some zoologists and wildlife biologists work alone, but many more work as part of a research team with other technicians, ecologists and environmental scientists. Many of them also specialize in a particular area of study, such as entomology (the study of insects) or herpetology (the study of reptiles and amphibians) or ornithology (the study of birds). Animal behaviorists and marine biologists also work in this career field.
In addition to working in offices, zoos and labratories, many zoologists and wildlife biologists perform fieldwork that requires travel to remote locations, and often for extended periods of time. This type of fieldwork can be very rewarding, but also physically challenging, and if you’re thinking seriously about a zoology job, you should take this into consideration. Also consider the challenge of being away from your family for an extended period, especially if you’re married and have children.
SECURING A ZOOLOGY JOB
Although continuing to grow at a steady rate, this isn’t a large career field. In 2010, for example, there were less than 20,000 professionals working in zoology and wildlife biology. You’ll probably need to be open to relocating to another part of the country if necessary, or even to another part of the world if a good position opens up in your speciality. And entry-level positions don’t always pay well, but they can provide valuable work experience for professionals looking to gain experience in this challenging and rewarding career field.
As with just about any new career you are considering, if you want a job as a zoologist or wildlife biologist, you’ll need a good education. Typically professionals in this field have at least a bachelor’s degree, and many have post-graduate degrees as well. If you plan on advancing to a higher-level position as a marine biologist or zoologist, for example, you’ll probably need a master’s degree, or even a Ph.D. in some cases.
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