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What does a Zoologist do? (2023 Guide)

what does a zoologist does

Are you looking for a job where you can spend a lot of time with animals

If you enjoy doing research, becoming a Zoologist could be the perfect career move. This field often involves researching animal behavior and characteristics, including the interaction between animals and their environment. While this career can be very rewarding, it takes time and dedication to become qualified. Most important, you need to understand the demands of the job and can rise to the challenge. 

If you want to know ‘what does a Zoologist do?’, then it’s time to find out…

Typical Duties And Responsibilities

Your daily duties will vary widely depending on where you work and your specialization. However, there are certain tasks that all types of zoologists typically perform. Let’s take a look at some of the sorts of tasks you will probably complete regularly. 

Studying and managing animals

This is likely to be one of your main responsibilities if you work in a zoo. You can choose to work with a certain type of animal and study them in captivity. In addition to observing the animals, you would be responsible for assisting with captive breeding programs.

Putting together exhibits

Many people in this field choose to work in natural history museums. Associated roles include managing collections, conducting research, and cataloging specimens. 

Sharing knowledge

Many Zoologists choose to work in educational facilities such as colleges and universities. They will often share their years of study and encounters with students. This can help drive the mission of promoting conservation efforts and educating people about animal welfare and wildlife. 


Some professionals work for an independent organization or university. This can involve designing and conducting research projects and animal studies. You would then be charged with writing articles, reports, and papers to explain the findings. 

Other duties and responsibilities can include:

  • Studying animal characteristics and behavior.
  • Collecting and analyzing biological specimens and data.
  • Safeguarding animal welfare through various initiatives.

What Does A Zoologist Do? – Essential Skills

You need to have a lot of patience and empathy when working with animals. There are also other personal skills and traits that you should focus on developing while you are earning your degree. Here are some of the key skills and attributes you need to be a successful Zoologist

Communication skills

Communication skills

A large part of this role involves writing reports on the findings of your studies. It is necessary to be able to write in a clear and detailed manner and have excellent verbal communication skills to lead lectures and presentations. 

Observation skills

When studying animal behavior, you must be able to notice even the tiniest changes. This includes changes in the diet and appearance of the animals. You also need to observe and record changes in the surroundings of the animals. 

Critical-thinking skills

When conducting studies and experiments, you need to be able to draw insightful conclusions. These can help make a significant impact in your field. You will need to take all scientific observations and research results into account when forming your conclusions. 

Problem-solving abilities

When potential threats are observed, you will be charged with finding ways to resolve them. This involves weighing up all the potential solutions and choosing the best one for the situation. You need to be comfortable making quick decisions that can have a significant impact on wildlife. 

Technological capabilities

You will often work with highly-specialized scientific equipment when conducting experiments. You need to be adept at using different types of data management software. It is important to keep up to date with different technological advancements and be able to implement them.

Different Specializations

Once you have gained some experience, you will be encouraged to specialize in a particular area. This allows you to narrow your field of study and become an expert in a particular area. Here are a few of the main specializations that you can choose from. 



This is a rapidly growing field, and the specialization focuses on the study of animal behavior. This mainly involves observing a certain type of animal in its natural habitat. The focuses of the study include animal aggression, communication, and mating habits.

Through long periods of continuous study, Ethologists can form interesting and unique insights into certain animals. This can help people understand the animals better and can even lead to conservation work. At the end of your study period, you would present your findings in reports and lectures at various institutes. 


This specialization involves studying different types of primates, such as chimpanzees, lemurs, and gorillas. They observe these primates in their natural habitats and perform controlled experiments. This helps to deepen the understanding of their behavior in the wild. This specialization can also involve laboratory study and semi-free range studies. 

Wildlife Biologist

A large part of this specialization is focused on the conservation of wildlife populations. While observing the behavior of animals in the wild, you would focus on their nutrition and diseases. As well as keep track of endangered populations by conducting population surveys.



The main focus of this specialization is analyzing the remains of surviving and extinct animal species. This includes working with soft tissue, bone, hair, and horn samples. Samples are often collected from archeological sites using very precise techniques. Analyzing the remains helps to broaden our understanding of past ecological systems and reasons for extinction. 


There are more than 6,500 species of living mammals, and you would specialize in either one or a small group. In addition to studying the behavior of live mammals, you would study their natural history. This includes collecting samples from taxonomy and studying their anatomy. 


This branch focuses on amphibians and reptiles such as crocodiles, snakes, frogs, turtles, and iguanas. You would be responsible for observing them in their natural habitats and conducting studies. One of the main focuses is assessing the natural environment and determining threats from pollution and disease. This type of work is essential for environmental protection and conservation projects. 

Alternatively, some herpetologists work as collection managers in museums. They are responsible for preserving and cataloging specimens. They also run and oversee educational programs within museums. 


If you have an interest in birds, this specialization could be for you. You would be charged with studying and recording different aspects of birds in the wild. Areas of focus can include bird song, mating behavior, reproduction rates, and habitats.

Another aspect is determining the impact of climate change and human interference. You may choose to work closely with a particular endangered species and observe their behavior. This can help you to create strategies for protection and conservation projects. 


If you prefer to work exclusively with insects, this specialization may be the right fit for you. There are thousands of species of insects, and more are being discovered all the time. This means endless career opportunities in this vast and rapidly growing field.

While insects play a vital role in the ecosystem, little is yet known about many species. Areas of focus can include the life cycle, habits, and classification of different types. This can also include creating strategies to control infestations of certain pests and parasites. 


You should consider this specialization if you fancy working closely with spiders, scorpions, and other types of arachnids. There are more than 45,000 known species of spiders so far today. You would have the chance to focus on the venom, webs, silk, or other aspects of these creatures. If you are lucky, you may even discover a new species and have it named after you.  

Professional Associations 

This field can be very competitive, and there are often several candidates for the choicest research projects and jobs. Joining a professional association can help you get an edge over the competition. Here are some of the best associations for Zoologists to join. 

Association of Zoos & Aquariums 

Association of Zoos & Aquariums 

This professional organization hosts several conferences and other events throughout the year. This is the perfect place to meet other professionals and make important connections. The Association of Zoos & Aquariums also offers accreditation and runs conservation campaigns and projects. 

Zoological Association of America 

This is another great place to meet other career professionals. There are several different membership levels to choose from. Benefits include access to the annual ZAA Annual Conference and the right to vote on certain issues. 

American Association of Zoo Keepers 

This association was established in 1967 and can provide excellent networking opportunities for budding Zoologists. While many of the members are zookeepers, others work as veterinarians and curators. Benefits include committee opportunities, access to exclusive research materials, and the chance to vote for the conference host.

More Info On Working With Animals!

I can’t get enough of our furry friends! So, the thought of working with any animal is a dream job, in my opinion! If you feel the same, you’ll love to take a look at my Top Biology Degree Jobs to get you a few ideas!

Next, if you love the ocean and being in the water, you’ll want to check out our in-depth Marine Biologist Job Description, along with our in-depth guide to the Seaworld Application, but if you prefer to keep your feet on dry soil, our guide to the San Diego Zoo Application, is probably a better choice for you.

Working as a vet is also extremely rewarding, so let’s take a look at our guides on How To Become A Veterinarian as well as How To Become A Veterinary Technician, followed by our Veterinary Assistant Job Description to see if it’s a career you’d like to pursue in 2023.

What Does A Zoologist Do? – Final Thoughts

One of the great things about choosing to become a Zoologist is that there are numerous specializations. After earning an undergraduate degree, you can gain work experience at your local zoo. You can then pursue a master’s degree and advance to a specialization.

Depending on the route you choose, it can take up to thirteen years to become fully qualified. Although dedicating this amount of time to studies may seem tough, this career can be very rewarding. Depending on the specialization you choose, you can earn up to $100,000 per year. 

Enjoy your amazing career in Zoology!

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