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Career switch to zoology

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by MaryT, 26 Mar 2018.

  1. MaryT

    MaryT New Member

    Joined:
    26 Mar 2018
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    United States
    Hello everyone!

    I'm interested in making a career change into the field of zoology and would like some guidance on where to start. A few things about me :

    - I owned and cared for horses from the age of 7-24. I taught horseback riding for a few years before college. It's a passion of mine, but became too expensive to continue the last few years of college. Since then I've been working as a group and personal trainer. In summary, I'm comfortable caring for large mammals and enjoy sharing my passions with others.

    - have a BS in Nutrition Science, Human sciences. It's a pre-meducal biology degree, but obviously for humans and not animals.

    - I'm a military wife, so going to an actual brick-and-mortar college to obtain masters isn't practical unless we happen to move to a city with a college that offers one

    - I do plan on volunteering at our local zoo to get as much hands on experience as possible.

    So my questions are:

    - Would I be able to work as a zookeeper after volunteering and/or interning at a zoo? I understand it's a competitive field, but I'm wondering if they accept positions for people with practical experience, but who lack a zoology degree.

    - Along the same lines, if I were to become a zoologist, would I need a masters specifically in zoology or could I branch into biology? In case I need to do it in an online format.

    I want to go about this the correct way Any tips would be greatly appreciated!
     
  2. birdsandbats

    birdsandbats Well-Known Member

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    Welcome!
     
  3. TheWalrus

    TheWalrus Well-Known Member

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    Welcome to Zoochat!
     
  4. DavidBrown

    DavidBrown Well-Known Member

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    Hi Mary,

    Welcome to Zoochat.

    Volunteering at your local zoo is a great way, maybe the best way, to start on the path way to a career in the zoo world. It sounds like you have a great back ground already with your practical experience with horses and your degree. Many (most?) zoos now require a college degree for keeper positions, but it sounds like your nutrition science degree would be right on target for that. Creating diets and understanding the underlying nutritional needs of animals is obviously a huge part of animal husbandry. By volunteering at the zoo you can network with keepers and other zoo staff to figure out a specific plan for how to work into the profession. It sounds like you have your eyes open that it is a very competitive field, but also that you have the passion and drive to make it work.

    Re: masters, if your are interested in teaching biology at the community college level a masters degree is a requirement. If you want to be a research biologist and study animals in the wild then advanced degrees (masters and/or PhD) are usually prerequisites. If you want to work in zoo management then a masters of some kind maybe could be useful, but that would probably best be explored by talking with people in the zoo profession and getting specific advice about what kind of masters people get and why.

    Good luck with everything.
     
  5. agnmeln

    agnmeln Well-Known Member

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    Welcome! I don’t know much about the current entry requirements for most USA zoos, but within most UK zoos, normally both substantial relevant experience and significant relevant qualifications are required to successfully gain employment. It is quite time intensive and financial resource intensive to get yourself to that point, but if it means that you get to fulfil your passion for the rest of your life then it’s obviously well worth the investment. Good luck!
     
  6. MaryT

    MaryT New Member

    Joined:
    26 Mar 2018
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    Location:
    United States
    Thank you so much for your response! It's very helpful.
     
  7. Loxodonta Cobra

    Loxodonta Cobra Well-Known Member

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    Welcome to Zoochat!