Zoologists are usually identified by the animal group they study. For example,
ornithologists study birds. Mammalogists specialize in the study of mammals,
herpetologists study reptiles and ichthyologists study fish.
Zoologists may work in a wide range of fields. They serve as animal behaviorists,
aquarium directors, conservationists, ecologists, insect quarantine inspectors
and marine biologists.
There are also zoologists serving as museum curators, park rangers and
wildlife biologists. And, of course, zoologists can also work as zoo directors.
Many zoologists work on research projects, especially if employed by a
university. They submit grant proposals to obtain funding for their research
Those who conduct research usually work in laboratories and use a wide
variety of scientific equipment. For some scientists, a good deal of research
is performed outside the lab. PhD zoologists at universities also teach college-level
Many zoologists conduct field research in remote areas, which involves
strenuous physical activity and primitive living conditions. Prepare to work
hard as a zoologist.
"Most academic scientists lead very busy lives," says zoologist Kerry Kilburn,
a professor at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. "On any one day,
you can find yourself counseling a student, reading new journal articles,
writing a lecture, grading a test, planning for your next field trip or performing
an experiment in the lab.
"The diversity is great, but you need good time management to keep everything
"Contrary to popular opinion, we don't really have summers off," Kilburn
adds. "Most of us use that time to attend professional meetings, where we
share research findings, take on longer term projects, do serious reading
and work on our courses and curricula, or write papers and grant proposals."