Department of Labor Logo United States Department of Labor
Dot gov

The .gov means it's official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you're on a federal government site.

Https

The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Summary

Please enable javascript to play this video.

Video transcript available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uoyuggwziWA.
Quick Facts: Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists
2022 Median Pay $67,430 per year
$32.42 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2022 19,100
Job Outlook, 2022-32 3% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2022-32 600

What Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists Do

Zoologists and wildlife biologists study animals, those both in captivity and in the wild, and how they interact with their ecosystems.

Work Environment

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

How to Become a Zoologist or Wildlife Biologist

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.

Pay

The median annual wage for zoologists and wildlife biologists was $67,430 in May 2022.

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.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for zoologists and wildlife biologists.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of zoologists and wildlife biologists with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about zoologists and wildlife biologists by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists Do About this section

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.

Duties

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 About this section

Zoologists and wildlife biologists
Fieldwork can require zoologists and wildlife biologists to travel to remote locations anywhere in the world.

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.

How to Become a Zoologist or Wildlife Biologist About this section

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.

Education

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.

Advancement

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.

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.

Pay About this section

Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists

Median annual wages, May 2022

Life scientists

$83,060

Zoologists and wildlife biologists

$67,430

Total, all occupations

$46,310

 

The median annual wage for zoologists and wildlife biologists was $67,430 in May 2022. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $44,610, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $104,750.

In May 2022, the median annual wages for zoologists and wildlife biologists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Government $69,490
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 67,840
Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences 65,160
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private 62,490
Social advocacy organizations 54,240

Most zoologists and wildlife biologists work full time. They may have irregular schedules, especially when doing fieldwork.

Job Outlook About this section

Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists

Percent change in employment, projected 2022-32

Life scientists

7%

Zoologists and wildlife biologists

3%

Total, all occupations

3%

 

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.

Employment

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.

Employment projections data for zoologists and wildlife biologists, 2022-32
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2022 Projected Employment, 2032 Change, 2022-32 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Zoologists and wildlife biologists

19-1023 19,100 19,700 3 600 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OEWS data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.org. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

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 Help on Entry-Level Education 2022 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
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

Contacts for More Information About this section

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)

MarineBio

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

USAJOBS

CareerOneStop

For a career video on zoologists and wildlife biologists, visit

Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists

O*NET

Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/zoologists-and-wildlife-biologists.htm (visited November 16, 2023).

Last Modified Date: Wednesday, September 6, 2023

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2022 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2022, the median annual wage for all workers was $46,310.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2022

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2022, which is the base year of the 2022-32 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2022-32

The projected percent change in employment from 2022 to 2032. The average growth rate for all occupations is 3 percent.

Employment Change, 2022-32

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2022-32

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2022 to 2032.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

2022 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2022, the median annual wage for all workers was $46,310.