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What does it take to become a zoologist?

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Quick Answer

A minimum of a Bachelor of Science in Zoology or a closely related field such as biology, wildlife biology or ecology is required to gain an entry-level position as a zoologist. A master's degree or Ph.D. is necessary for higher-level zoology work.

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Zoology is the study of organisms and animals, including their origins, habitats, behavior and other characteristics. A candidate for this field of study must first have a passion or interest in animals or certain species of animals. The coursework is rigorous with a heavy emphasis on anatomy, cellular biology, botany, physics, chemistry and mathematics. Taking these courses in high school is good preparation for college coursework. Internships and volunteer work with animals are a good way to gain practical experience in the field outside of the classroom, which can help entry-level zoologists find work upon graduation.

Zoologists often work for zoos, monitoring, feeding and interacting with animals. They sometimes spend long periods of time studying animals in their natural habitats. Lab positions can involve testing the effects of drugs on animals or dissecting and examining specimens to study disease and bodily functions. Research and academic jobs usually require a doctoral degree. Zoologists must participate in continuing education to stay current in their field.

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