How to become a Zoologist

Zoologists are biologists who study the structures, characteristics, functions, ecology and environments of animals to increase scientific knowledge and develop practical applications in wildlife management, conservation, agriculture and medicine.

Personal requirements of a Zoologist

  • A keen interest in research and the study of living organisms
  • Good observation skills
  • Able to work accurately
  • A logical approach to problem-solving
  • Good oral and written communication skills
  • Able to work independently or as part of a team

Education & Training for a Zoologist

To become a zoologist you usually have to complete a degree in science or applied science at university with a major in zoology or biological sciences. Postgraduate qualifications may enhance employment prospects in the field of zoology. To get into the degree courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English, biology, earth and environmental science, chemistry, mathematics and physics are normally required. Most universities in Australia offer degrees in these areas. Entry to postgraduate courses usually requires completion of an appropriate bachelor degree. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information. For full details, refer to the entries on the website at www.goodcareersguide.com.au or university handbooks.

Duties & Tasks of a Zoologist

Zoologists may perform the following tasks:

  • investigate the interrelationships between animals and their environment by studying animals in their natural surroundings, as well as in captivity and laboratories
  • study and perform experiments to identify species and gather data on growth, nutrition, reproduction, prey and predators
  • study the development and functions of animals
  • devise methods of population control, especially of vermin and pests
  • develop programs to increase or manage the population of wild animals and animals in captivity
  • undertake surveys of fauna and prepare reports for management agencies
  • prepare or supervise the preparation of laboratory reports and scientific papers
  • supervise and coordinate the work of technical officers and technicians
  • conduct lectures at tertiary institutions
  • participate in wildlife awareness programs for the public.

Employment Opportunities for a Zoologist

Opportunities for employment are varied. Some zoology graduates work as laboratory or research assistants in applied, biomedical and pure research projects. Zoologists with postgraduate qualifications may be employed in teaching and research in universities and colleges, or in pure and applied research in the animal, ecosystem and marine divisions of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). They may also be employed by museums, zoos, state and territory departments of agriculture, and organisations concerned with conservation, wildlife management, environmental control, fisheries and national parks. In addition, there are positions in the animal breeding and genetics industry. Some zoology graduates obtain a postgraduate qualification in education and teach science in secondary schools. Employment prospects for zoologists depend on the amount of biological and agricultural research conducted by government agencies, universities and other organisations.

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