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Career in Zoology: Get Your Degree and Start Exploring

Career as a Zoology

How many of you have seen several Discovery episodes on animals and their lives? Did you notice how certain specialist knows so much about these animals? They lead an exciting life in jungles, knowing animals better, helping them survive and thrive and creating a connection between wildlife and humanity. These specialists are known as zoologists and if you have a kick in your body to explore life in the jungle, underwater, in the desert, in snow, etc. studying animals then you should consider a career of a zoologist.

Zoologist is a specialist who studies animals living in a free habitat or in human captivity. As a zoologist, you would work to understand their structure, evolution, classification, natural habitat, eating habits, social habits, breeding and growth. You will also work for their conservation in the wild. As many animals are endangered, you will be given the task to find their population in a particular habitat and work on their survival. Some of you will also work on extinct animals to understand their past ecosystems.

Why Become a Zoology?

Zoologists are biologists who study animals. Zoologists study anatomical structure, cells, tissues, organs, physiological and nervous systems, embryology, evolution, animal behavior and classification and distribution of all kinds of animals (including extinct animals too). They also study how animals interact with their ecosystems.

As a Zoologist, you will observe and study animals both in the laboratory and in the wild. Some of you will also work on the conservation of several endangered animals. As a zoologist, you will also study aquatic animals like whales, fish, etc. Depending on your specialization, you might either study the entire animal or only a few parts of an organism. You will have both observational and research-based work. Be ready to work in different climatic conditions as zoologists go deep under the water, or work in the polar region and also in the hot desert.

Anthrozoologist is a specialist who studies the integration of humans and other animals. They combine the knowledge of anthropology, ethnology, medicine, psychology and zoology. They study any major positive effects of the human-animal relationship on either of them and study this interaction.

What Does a Zoology do?

As a zoologist, depending on your field of specialization, you would have the following roles and responsibilities:

  • You will work towards planning for the wildlife population and their habitat. You will consult all stakeholders for the same.
  • You will work to calculate the population of animals in their habitat.
  • You will study the nutritional requirements of animals and the nutritive values of animal feed materials for animals in captivity.
  • You will write up or orally communicate research findings to the scientific community, producers, and the public.
  • You will Study the effects of management practices, processing methods, feed, or environmental conditions on the quality and quantity of animal products, such as eggs and milk.
  • You will ensure compliance with environmental laws and notify law enforcement bodies in case of any violations.
  • You will conduct experimental studies on both animals in a controlled environment and in the wild. You will collect a biological specimen of animals for analysis.
  • You will study different characteristics of animals including their interaction with others, population dynamics, diseases, movement etc.
  • You will analyze the effect of human activity on animals and their natural habitat.
  • You will research, initiate and maintain a different breeding program for endangered animals.

How to Become a Zoology – Eligibility Criteria

You can study for a Bachelor’s degree in Zoology / Animal Science and then do a Master’s degree in any one of the following fields:

  • Anthrozoology
  • Aquatic Biology
  • Entomology
  • Herpetology
  • Invertebrate Zoology
  • Mammology
  • Marine Zoology
  • Ornithology
  • Other Zoological Sciences
  • Vertebrate Zoology
  • Zooarchaeology
  • Zoology

Job Opportunities

  • Most of universities and colleges will hire you as a professor at the position of Junior Professor or Assistant Professor.
  • If you are into research, then you will be hired at the position of research associate. Ph.D. research fellows will be hired as Junior Research Fellows.
  • Research laboratories and Research Institutes will hire you as a scientist/scientist officer with the lowest grade (Grade C).
  • As a scientific advisor with PETA and other animal organizations.
  • As a Zoological Assistant with Zoological Survey of India after your Bachelor’s degree.
  • As a Project Assistant/ Research Associate/ Research Fellow / Senior Zoological Assistant / Assistant Zoologist with Zoological Survey of India after your Master’s degree.
  • As a Scientist with the Zoological Survey of India after your Ph.D.

You can find job opportunities at the following facilities:

  • Colleges and universities
  • Zoological and Animal Science Research Institute like the National Institute of Animal Biotechnology, Zoological Survey of India, and Wildlife Institute of India.
  • Zoos, National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries (services under the Zoological Survey of India)
  • In the various laboratories and offices of the Zoological Survey of India
  • Medical Research Institutes like Institute for Stem Cell Science and Regenerative Medicine.

Work Environment

As a Zoologist, you will be either working in the research labs or in the field. If you are working in a research lab, they will be studying data collected about animals, farms, their breeding, diseases etc. If you are working in the field, then it will be a highly challenging role as you will need to tackle and study animals. It could go beyond office hours also sometimes.

Most of the field jobs will include traveling to a harsh location in harsh climatic conditions including traveling to high mountains, sea, underneath water bodies, deserts, jungles, etc. Most of these field jobs don’t have working hours as you might have to work for several hours at night waiting for finding animals or studying their behavior.

Salary of a Zoology

  • At the entry level, you can join as a research associate with a basic salary of Rs. 25,000 to 30,000. As a doctoral research fellow (junior research fellow) you would be earning around Rs. 35,000 to 38,000 per month. At the entry level, as a Scientist (grade C) you would be earning around Rs. 80,000 to 100,000 per month. As an assistant professor, you would be earning anything between Rs. 65,000 INR to 70,000 per month.
  • At the junior level with a work experience of 2-6 years, you would be earning anything between Rs. 1,20,000 to 1,40,000 per month.
  • At the middle level with an experience of 10-12 years, you would be earning anything between Rs. 1,40,000 to 1,90,000 per month as a scientist and Rs. 1,20,000 INR to 1,60,000 as a professor.
  • At the senior level of over 15 years of work experience, you would be earning anything between Rs. 1,60,000 to 2,00,000 per month as a professor and Rs. 2,10,000 to 2,50,000 per month as a Scientist.

Career Progression in Zoology Profession

  • Research laboratories will hire you as a scientist/scientist officer with the lowest grade and the grade changes from low to high. In India, grades are “Scientist “C” as the joining level and then D, E, F, G, H, etc. A senior-level scientist can also get into administrative positions like Principal Scientist, Assistant Director, Deputy Director, Director, etc.
  • The career growth in university and college states from Assistant Professor and then Associate Professor, Professor and Professor Emeritus. Professors can also get administrative positions such as Director/Dean/Vice Chancellor, etc.
  • If you are hired as a research associate (JRF and SRF), then you will go on to become a Doctoral Research Fellow, then Post-Doctoral Research Fellow and then Scientist in Progressive Grades. 

Zoologist mostly works around the natural habitats of animals. India is one of the most biodiverse nations in the world. It is known as one of the few megadiverse nations with over 10% of world species found here. There are around 91 thousand animal species found in India as now. These include 65, thousand insect species, 2456 species of fish, 1230 bird species, 32 mammal species, 440 species of reptiles, 200 amphibians species, and over 500 mollusks species. Apart from these species of animal,s India has 400 breeds of sheep, 27 breeds of cattle and 22 breeds of goats.

India is home of a few of the rarest species of animals including the Bengal Fox, Asiatic Cheetah, Marbled Cat, Asiatic Lion, Indian Elephant, Asiatic Wild Ass, Indian Rhinoceros, Markhor, Gaur, Wild Asiatic Water Buffalo etc.

With such a high variety of species and diversity, India is a rich place to do research in the field of zoology. However, most of the zoology careers are still limited to the government research field only. Though there is a big potential in the future for this career to boom, it has limited opportunities as of now.

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