Zoologist or Wildlife Biologist

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Job Outlook:
As fast as average
Education: Bachelor's degree
High: $104,750.00
Average: $72,610.00
Average: $34.91

What they do:

Study the origins, behavior, diseases, genetics, and life processes of animals and wildlife. May specialize in wildlife research and management. May collect and analyze biological data to determine the environmental effects of present and potential use of land and water habitats.

On the job, you would:

  • Develop, or make recommendations on, management systems and plans for wildlife populations and habitat, consulting with stakeholders and the public at large to explore options.
  • Inventory or estimate plant and wildlife populations.
  • Inform and respond to public regarding wildlife and conservation issues, such as plant identification, hunting ordinances, and nuisance wildlife.

Important Qualities

Attention to detail. Zoologists and wildlife biologists must be able to notice changes in an animal’s behavior or appearance.

Communication skills. Zoologists and wildlife biologists write about and present their research to the public, policymakers, and academic audiences.

Critical-thinking skills. Zoologists and wildlife biologists need sound reasoning and judgment to draw conclusions from their experiments and observations.

Interpersonal skills. Zoologists and wildlife biologists typically work on teams and must be able to work effectively with others.

Outdoor skills. Zoologists and wildlife biologists may need to navigate rough terrain, carry heavy equipment for long distances, or perform other activities associated with living in remote areas.

Problem-solving skills. Zoologists and wildlife biologists try to find solutions to wildlife threats, such as disease and habitat loss.


A3 Your Strengths Importance

Characteristics of this Career

87% Cooperation  -  Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
86% Integrity  -  Job requires being honest and ethical.
84% Initiative  -  Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
83% Dependability  -  Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
82% Attention to Detail  -  Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
79% Adaptability/Flexibility  -  Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
79% Persistence  -  Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
78% Analytical Thinking  -  Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
75% Achievement/Effort  -  Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
75% Independence  -  Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
75% Leadership  -  Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
72% Self-Control  -  Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
71% Stress Tolerance  -  Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
68% Innovation  -  Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
A3 Your Strengths Importance


100% Investigative  -  Work involves studying and researching non-living objects, living organisms, disease or other forms of impairment, or human behavior. Investigative occupations are often associated with physical, life, medical, or social sciences, and can be found in the fields of humanities, mathematics/statistics, information technology, or health care service.
72% Realistic  -  Work involves designing, building, or repairing of equipment, materials, or structures, engaging in physical activity, or working outdoors. Realistic occupations are often associated with engineering, mechanics and electronics, construction, woodworking, transportation, machine operation, agriculture, animal services, physical or manual labor, athletics, or protective services.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Values of the Work Environment

72% Achievement  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
67% Recognition  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious. Corresponding needs are Advancement, Authority, Recognition and Social Status.
64% Working Conditions  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.


A3 Your Strengths Importance

Abilities | Cognitive, Physical, Personality

75% Oral Comprehension  -  The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
75% Written Comprehension  -  The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
75% Oral Expression  -  The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
75% Written Expression  -  The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
75% Deductive Reasoning  -  The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
75% Inductive Reasoning  -  The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
69% Speech Clarity  -  The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
69% Information Ordering  -  The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
69% Problem Sensitivity  -  The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
66% Speech Recognition  -  The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Skills | Cognitive, Physical, Personality

68% Reading Comprehension  -  Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.

Job Details

Research environmental impact of industrial or development activities.
Measure environmental characteristics.
Examine characteristics or behavior of living organisms.
Prepare scientific or technical reports or presentations.
Plan biological research.
Prepare biological samples for testing or analysis.
Care for plants or animals.
Analyze biological samples.
Collect biological specimens.
Communicate with the public on environmental issues.
Assess compliance with environmental laws.
Advise others about environmental management or conservation.
Review professional literature to maintain professional knowledge.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Attributes & Percentage of Time Spent

98% Electronic Mail  -  How often do you use electronic mail in this job?
90% Telephone  -  How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?
88% Face-to-Face Discussions  -  How often do you have to have face-to-face discussions with individuals or teams in this job?
84% Contact With Others  -  How much does this job require the worker to be in contact with others (face-to-face, by telephone, or otherwise) in order to perform it?
84% Work With Work Group or Team  -  How important is it to work with others in a group or team in this job?
83% Indoors, Environmentally Controlled  -  How often does this job require working indoors in environmentally controlled conditions?
81% Structured versus Unstructured Work  -  To what extent is this job structured for the worker, rather than allowing the worker to determine tasks, priorities, and goals?
79% Coordinate or Lead Others  -  How important is it to coordinate or lead others in accomplishing work activities in this job?
78% Importance of Being Exact or Accurate  -  How important is being very exact or highly accurate in performing this job?
78% Freedom to Make Decisions  -  How much decision making freedom, without supervision, does the job offer?
73% Responsibility for Outcomes and Results  -  How responsible is the worker for work outcomes and results of other workers?
72% Deal With External Customers  -  How important is it to work with external customers or the public in this job?
71% Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results  -  What results do your decisions usually have on other people or the image or reputation or financial resources of your employer?
68% Frequency of Decision Making  -  How frequently is the worker required to make decisions that affect other people, the financial resources, and/or the image and reputation of the organization?
68% Responsible for Others' Health and Safety  -  How much responsibility is there for the health and safety of others in this job?
66% Spend Time Sitting  -  How much does this job require sitting?
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Tasks & Values

87% Communicating with People Outside the Organization  -  Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
86% Working with Computers  -  Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
85% Getting Information  -  Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
85% Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates  -  Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
84% Making Decisions and Solving Problems  -  Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
83% Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships  -  Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
80% Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work  -  Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
80% Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events  -  Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
78% Performing for or Working Directly with the Public  -  Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
75% Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge  -  Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
75% Processing Information  -  Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
74% Analyzing Data or Information  -  Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
73% Developing Objectives and Strategies  -  Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
73% Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings  -  Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
72% Thinking Creatively  -  Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
72% Providing Consultation and Advice to Others  -  Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups on technical, systems-, or process-related topics.
72% Documenting/Recording Information  -  Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
71% Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards  -  Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
71% Scheduling Work and Activities  -  Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
70% Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment  -  Running, maneuvering, navigating, or driving vehicles or mechanized equipment, such as forklifts, passenger vehicles, aircraft, or watercraft.
69% Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others  -  Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
66% Developing and Building Teams  -  Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.

What Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists Do

Zoologists and wildlife biologists
Marine biologists study fish and other wildlife that inhabit the oceans.

Zoologists and wildlife biologists study animals, those both in captivity and in the wild, and how they interact with their ecosystems. They focus primarily on undomesticated animals and their behavior, as well as on the impact humans have on wildlife and natural habitats.


Zoologists and wildlife biologists typically do the following:

  • Develop and conduct experimental studies with animals in controlled or natural surroundings
  • Collect and analyze specimens and other biological data
  • Study the characteristics of animals, such as their reproduction, interactions with other species, diseases, and movement patterns
  • Research, initiate, and maintain breeding programs that support game animals, endangered species, or other terrestrial or aquatic wildlife
  • Estimate, monitor, and manage wildlife populations and invasive species
  • Analyze how human activity influences wildlife and their natural habitats
  • Develop and implement programs to prevent harm to wildlife from human activities, including farming and aircraft operations
  • Write research papers, reports, and other documents that explain their findings
  • Present research findings to academics, policymakers, and the public
  • Develop conservation plans and recommend action related to wildlife conservation and management

Zoologists’ and wildlife biologists’ study of animals includes conducting scientific tests and experiments, such as taking blood samples to assess an animal’s health, and researching their habitats. Although the roles of zoologists and wildlife biologists often overlap, zoologists typically research certain types of animals, such as birds, whereas wildlife biologists study specific ecosystems or animal populations, such as an at-risk species.

Zoologists and wildlife biologists use geographic information systems (GIS), modeling software, and other technology for a variety of purposes. For example, they may use technology to estimate wildlife populations, track animal movement, forecast the spread of invasive species or diseases, and assess potential threats to habitats.

Zoologists generally specialize in either vertebrates or invertebrates for an individual species. Following are some examples of specialization by species:

  • Cetologists study marine mammals, such as whales and dolphins.
  • Entomologists study insects, such as beetles and butterflies.
  • Herpetologists study reptiles and amphibians, such as snakes and frogs.
  • Ichthyologists study wild fish, such as sharks and lungfish.
  • Malacologists study mollusks, such as snails and clams.
  • Mammalogists study mammals, such as monkeys and bears.
  • Ornithologists study birds, such as hawks and penguins.
  • Teuthologists study cephalopods, such as octopuses and cuttlefish.

Other zoologists and wildlife biologists specialize in a particular field of study, such as evolution or animal behavior. Following are some examples of specialization by field of study:

  • Anatomy is the study of structure of organisms and their parts.
  • Embryology is the study of the development of embryos and fetuses.
  • Ethology, sometimes called behavioral ecology, is the study of animal behaviors as natural or adaptive traits.
  • Histology, or microscopic anatomy, is the study of cells and tissues in plants and animals.
  • Physiology is the study of the normal function of living systems.
  • Soil zoology is the study of animals which live fully or partially in the soil.
  • Teratology is the study of abnormal physiological development.
  • Zoography is the study of descriptive zoology and describes plants and animals.

Zoologists and wildlife biologists are often part of a team of scientists and technicians working on conservation efforts. For example, zoologists and wildlife biologists may work with environmental scientists and hydrologists to monitor water pollution and its effects on fish populations.

Work Environment

Zoologists and wildlife biologists held about 19,100 jobs in 2022. The largest employers of zoologists and wildlife biologists were as follows:

Government 65%
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 8
Social advocacy organizations 7
Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences 5
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private 4

Zoologists and wildlife biologists work in a variety of settings, including offices and laboratories. Depending on their job, they may spend time outdoors, gathering data and studying animals in their natural habitats.

Fieldwork may require zoologists and wildlife biologists to travel to remote locations for long periods. For example, cetologists studying whale populations may spend months at sea; herpetologists researching snakes may spend significant time in deserts or forests.

Fieldwork can be physically demanding, especially for zoologists and wildlife biologists whose research involves working outdoors in all types of weather.

Injuries and Illnesses

Some zoologists and wildlife biologists handle wild animals or spend significant time outdoors in difficult terrain or in extreme temperatures. To avoid injury or illness, they must use caution when handling wildlife or working under challenging circumstances.

Work Schedules

Most zoologists and wildlife biologists work full time. They may have irregular schedules, especially when doing fieldwork. Zoologists and wildlife biologists who work with nocturnal animals may need to work at night.

Getting Started

Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree

How to Become a Zoologist or Wildlife Biologist

Zoologists and wildlife biologists
Zoologists and wildlife biologists study specimens collected in the field.

Zoologists and wildlife biologists typically need a bachelor’s degree for entry-level positions and may need a master’s degree for higher level jobs. They typically need a Ph.D. to lead research projects.


Zoologists and wildlife biologists typically need a bachelor’s degree to enter the occupation. Students may pursue a degree in zoology, wildlife biology, or a related field, such as natural resources. Some students major in biology and take coursework in zoology and wildlife biology.

Zoologists and wildlife biologists typically need at least a master’s degree for higher level positions and a Ph.D. for independent research positions.

Coursework in undergraduate and graduate-level science programs often includes academic, laboratory, and field work. In addition, students may need to take mathematics and statistics to learn data analysis.

Zoology and wildlife biology students may gain practical experience through internships, volunteer work, or other employment during college.

Other Experience

Some zoologists and wildlife biologists need outdoor skills to work in remote locations. For example, they may need to be comfortable driving a tractor, boat, or all-terrain vehicle (ATV); using a generator; or providing for themselves.


Zoologists and wildlife biologists typically take on greater responsibility and independence in their work as they gain experience or have more education. For example, zoologists and wildlife biologists with a Ph.D. may lead independent research and control the direction and content of projects.

Job Outlook

Employment of zoologists and wildlife biologists is projected to grow 3 percent from 2022 to 2032, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 1,500 openings for zoologists and wildlife biologists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.


Some zoologists and wildlife biologists are expected to be needed to help combat the loss of biodiversity caused by human activities, as well as to research climate-driven ecosystem changes. These workers also may be needed to develop and implement conservation plans to reduce threats to animals and protect natural resources. However, demand for zoologists and wildlife biologists may be limited by budgetary constraints, as jobs and funding for these workers often come from state, federal, and local governments.

Contacts for More Information

For more information about zoologists and wildlife biologists, visit

American Ornithological Society (AOS)

American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (ASIH)

American Society of Mammalogists (ASM)

Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)


The Wildlife Society (TWS)

Zoological Association of America (ZAA)

For information about topics related to zoology and wildlife biology, visit

National Park Service

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

To find job openings for zoologists and wildlife biologists in the federal government, visit


Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of zoologists and wildlife biologists.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2022
Agricultural and food scientists Agricultural and Food Scientists

Agricultural and food scientists research ways to improve the efficiency and safety of agricultural establishments and products.

Bachelor's degree $74,940
Animal care and service workers Animal Care and Service Workers

Animal care and service workers attend to or train animals.

High school diploma or equivalent $29,790
Biochemists and biophysicists Biochemists and Biophysicists

Biochemists and biophysicists study the chemical and physical principles of living things and of biological processes.

Doctoral or professional degree $103,810
Biological technicians Biological Technicians

Biological technicians help biological and medical scientists conduct laboratory tests and experiments.

Bachelor's degree $49,650
Conservation scientists and foresters Conservation Scientists and Foresters

Conservation scientists and foresters manage the land quality of forests, parks, rangelands, and other natural resources.

Bachelor's degree $64,420
Environmental scientists and specialists Environmental Scientists and Specialists

Environmental scientists and specialists use their knowledge of the natural sciences to protect the environment and human health.

Bachelor's degree $76,480
Microbiologists Microbiologists

Microbiologists study microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, algae, fungi, and some types of parasites.

Bachelor's degree $81,990
Postsecondary teachers Postsecondary Teachers

Postsecondary teachers instruct students in a variety of academic subjects beyond the high school level.

See How to Become One $80,840
Veterinarians Veterinarians

Veterinarians care for the health of animals and work to protect public health.

Doctoral or professional degree $103,260

Information provided by CareerFitter, LLC and other sources.

Sections of this page includes information from the O*NET 27.3 Database by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license.

CareerFitter, LLC has modified all or some of this information. USDOL/ETA has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.