Animal behavior is a fascinating field of study that is concerned with pretty much everything animals, from the tiniest single-celled organisms to the biggest land mammals, do. Aside from humans and plants, virtually everything living on the planet can be considered as part of animal behavior study.

Animal behaviorists look at how members of the animal kingdom interact with one another and their physical environments; how they reproduce and care for their young; and how they survive in the wild. These professionals typically specialize in specific types of animals, and their specialization can become even more refined as they pursue more education.

Where Animals Behaviorists Work

There are many different places a career in animal behavior can take you. It all depends on what your goals are and how much education and training you are willing and able to complete in order to advance your career. Consider some of the following possibilities:

• Aquarium Careers
• Assistant Zoo Director
• College Teaching and Research
• Conservation Groups
• Curator of Education
• Curator of Zookeepers
• Director of Research and Other Research Opportunities
• Government and Private Research Institutions
• Museum Careers
• Zoo Director
• Zoo Technician, Trainer, Researcher, etc.
• Zookeeper

Education and Training Requirements

Animal behaviorist careers require a minimum of a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts degree, and many of the more desirable careers require a master’s degree or PhD. There are various research assistant jobs that only require a bachelor’s or master’s degree, for example, while research directors almost all have PhDs. College teaching careers also typically require PhDs, as do most government and health-related jobs.

Zoos have many jobs for animal behaviorists that only require a bachelor’s degree, on the other hand, such as researchers specializing in animal behavior education. These professionals might give lectures and tours to zoo visitors. Zookeepers and even some zoo directors are only required to have a bachelor’s degree, although candidates with master’s degrees are often preferable when all other factors are equal. More education is generally better than less, particularly in today’s tough job climate.

Rewards and Benefits of Animal Behavior Careers

The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the average annual salary for animal behaviorists was $61,640 in 2008. It’s possible to earn a six-figure salary with a PhD and a specialized career in animal behavior, however. Animal behaviorist salaries increase with more education and experience. The type of job and geographic location also make a difference.

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