How To Become An Animal Behaviorist
Animal behaviorists study the way that animals behave. They are interested in what causes certain types of behaviors. As an animal behaviorist, you will be fully involved in researching animals. You will have the ability to educate the public using your findings. This profession requires a high degree of education, with most animal behaviorists carrying a doctorate.
Why Become An Animal Behaviorist
Many people become fascinated by animals at an early age. Animals are an important part of the natural world. Non-human animals can sometimes engage in behaviors that can be mysterious, funny, or strange. An animal behaviorist studies the behaviors of animals, including how they find food, how they mate and reproduce, how they survive and avoid predators, the emotions of animals, how animals care for their young, how animals spend their days, and other behaviors.
Animal behaviorists are often employed by research universities. It is here that they may be a part of academic teams such as veterinary medicine or animal science departments, teaching students about animal behavior. They may also work directly with animals, studying care of domesticated animals, production and conservation. Some animal behaviorists work in zoos, aquariums or museums. In this venue, they work as researchers or curators. They educate the general public about animals.
People in this profession tend to specialize in a particular type of animal, such as birds, large land mammals, livestock, or household pets. They may also focus on a particular behavior pattern, such as mating, hunting, or reproduction.
This is a great job for people who love animals, are interested in science and research, enjoy being hands-on and conducting experiments, and want to educate others in their line of work.
Animal Behaviorists should possess the following qualities and skills:
- Love Animals
- Good Researcher
- Good Communicator
- Critical Thinker
Animal Behaviorist Work Environment
Animal behaviorists work in a variety of settings. Some work in zoos or animal museums. Others are employed in more academic settings, such as universities. Many animal behaviorists start their careers in research. You will be working in a research setting, monitoring the behavior of animals, conducting experiments, developing educational programs and speaking to the public about animals and their behavior. This is a full-time position with regular work hours.
Animal Behaviorist Salary
The median annual salary for veterinarians was $88,770 in 2016 according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. This category includes animal behaviorists.
Salary can vary widely within this field. Some animal behaviorists choose to pursue research and development. Others decide to work in medical diagnostics. The path that a person chooses a career in will determine the salary they receive. A person who has several years of experience may earn a higher salary. These are all factors to consider when thinking about salary for this occupation.
Animal Behaviorist Career Outlook
Employment for veterinarians and veterinarian technicians is expected to grow by nine percent from 2014 to 2024. This category includes animal behaviorists. This rate of growth is about average compared to other occupations in the United States.
Competition for positions in this field is high, with more people wanting jobs than there are positions available. Many animal behaviorists work in research universities, zoos, and other educational facilities. These places often have restricted budgets that may affect their hiring for more animal behaviorists. Staff may have to apply for grants in order to conduct research.
Animal Behaviorist Degree
If you are interested in becoming an animal behaviorist, read below for more information.
Step 1: Undergraduate education. You will need a bachelor’s degree if you want a career in this field. There are many programs to choose from, including biology, ecology, wildlife science, psychology and more. Classes in science will help you gain a strong foundation in this field. It takes four years to earn a bachelor’s degree.
Step 2: Decide a specialty. There are four general fields in animal behavior: ethology, which is a scientific study of animal behavior, closely linked to zoology; anthropology, the study of cultures and their development; comparative psychology, involved in the history, behaviors, and mental processes of various species; and behavioral ecology, the study of how evolution plays a role in animal behavior. Each discipline studies a different aspect of animal behavior, although there is some overlapping. Some specialties are more interested in the psychology of animals, while others are more interested in biology and zoology. Decide which aspects of animal behavior most interest you.
Step 3: Graduate education. Most jobs in this field require a doctorate degree. Many animal behaviorists have a PhD or a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree. Decide which doctorate program is best for you, apply and enroll in a program. During these programs you will receive more in-depth coursework, as well as work in the field, doing research and working directly with animals. It takes four years to receive a DVM degree from an accredited institution.