A zoology degree could put you on the track to a research career that could
help preserve animal habitats and help endangered species.
The Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) says you need at least a bachelor's
degree for entry-level jobs in biology (and zoology). A master's degree
is enough for some jobs in research or product development.
A PhD is generally required for independent research and for advancement
to administrative jobs.
You'll begin with a strong academic base in math and science. Then
you'll broaden that knowledge through lab work and real-world field experience.
Emily Oaks is a zoology professor at the State University of New York at
Oswego. She says a bachelor's program should offer a strong combination of animal
biology, lab work, chemistry, physics and mathematics.
Oaks adds that her students enhance their classroom experience with real-world
lessons. Some students intern at local zoos, or use nearby Lake Ontario
for aquatic environmental classes.
"In general, the [program] is planned to help students develop skills in
critical thinking, computer literacy, communication, research and the ability
to work independently and in groups," she says.
Some programs offer the opportunity to conduct independent research,
which can improve your chances for admission into competitive graduate programs.
"Research opportunities help students apply the critical thinking skills
they have acquired from their experience in classes to ask questions, design
and conduct experiments and then collect and analyze data," says Phyllis Callahan,
a zoology professor at Miami University.
"Their communication skills, both written and oral, need to be well
developed so they can share their results with others in the field," she adds.
High school classes in chemistry, physics and mathematics are highly
recommended. "Mathematics is extremely important in the sciences, and if you
have good basic skills, you will have more confidence and success in your
courses in college," says Callahan.
A strong background in writing and public speaking experience is encouraged.
Getting experience in the outdoors, working in the community alongside
biology professionals or participating in an internship can help.
The cost of textbooks, labs and field fees vary.
Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: Biological
Smithsonian Institution -- Backyard Biology
Learn about the zoo's living backyard
Smithsonian National Zoological Park
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