Animal Career Secrets–What is Your Question?

Okay, I am pretty wiped out today so this is going to be a quick answer post…and probably not the most gracious.

Many of you are aware that I get questions sent in as a result of my Unusual Animal Career series pretty frequently. If it is clear that people have not read the series, I save the questions for forums such as this. Why? Because if they are not motivated enough to take some time to read before sending in a question to get expert advice, I am really not too motivated to respond to questions already covered in the series and figure they are lazy and not serious about their quest. Those of you reading this series are already aware of that.

Anyway, someone sent me a question because he wanted to have a career like Steve Irwin. Since there was nothing else in the email, I can only believe that the person was seeking a career in the media. Which is not going to happen unless you have an organization behind you, connections, media savvy, or some other kind of in…but perhaps you can get on a reality show and then you will have it made!

I met Steve and Teri fairly early in their media career. The first episode of the Crocodile Hunter, if I remember right, was done for an amazing $20,000–at a time when such projects averaged between $100,000 and $150,000. Irwin was a great showman and the format created a bunch of knock off shows.

Back then the focus was on male hosts, then the tide looked like it would change. When Rachel  Reenstra finally got her own show it was only after submitting an audition video–she also has worked as a comedian for many years. So, that is one strategy you could try–it worked for those hosts and it may work for someone else.

Just so you are aware, when you see animal people in the media most have worked in their fields for years or have been affiliated with large zoos or similar facilities. Joan Embry (San Diego Zoo), Julie Scardina (Busch Gardens/Sea World), Jack Hanna (Columbus Zoo), and others are some examples. Their jobs were as ambassadors. Steve Irwin and his family were no exceptions as the organization behind them is the Australia Zoo.

So, the answer to your question might not be so simple because I didn’t have much to start with–you have to define what it is you want to do–any specialty area of animal work–or do you simply want to be a host?

Just a hint, if you want a comprehensive answer send in more details. Be sure to include where you live or want to work, what you envision in the future, and what efforts you have made toward your goal so far.

It would help if you started answering some of the questions from early in this series…

Animal Career Secrets Discusses: Zoologist Job or Career in Zoology

This post in the Animal Career Secrets discusses animal job of a zoologist as well as job research etiquette. All content copyrighted 2007 by Diana L Guerrero. Some rights reserved.

Okay, I just received a question that brought up an issue that animal career seekers need to be aware of. Don’t come across as lazy or disrespectful of a professional’s time.

The question in itself is not bad, it is that the person did not do any work before asking it—no research, no anything. The question? What types of classes do I need to take for a zoology degree?

Fair enough, but how about searching through colleges who offer zoology to see what the required courses are? You can also find out just what jobs you will qualify for when you do that. AND then you can ask a more specific question about a career with animals that appeals to you and what the opinion is on the course of study.

It is your job to do the research. In most cases you can get the answers through any library, an online search, or if you are in school—there are counselors and resources right on site to get the answer to this.

One of the biggest faux pas animal career seekers make these days is that they don’t do the work themselves. They want everyone to do it for them.

In fact, my professional colleagues chat about this issue over and over again…and we shake our heads. It is not that we mind answering questions it is that we just are not interested in someone who has others do the work for them…and by the way it is a sure fire way to get eliminated from consideration before you even begin to go down the road for an animal career.

Did you read and understand that? If not, read the above paragraph again.

The bottom line is this, if you are not doing your research, if you are asking your parents or others in your sphere of influence to help you by writing or calling—then you are making sure you won’t be getting any serious consideration for an animal job–and probably won’t get an answer back from the professional you are contacting.

Okay, that said the question that came is: I have always wanted to get an animal related college degree and am currently in High School. I am seriously thinking about zoology can you tell me about the classes I need to take?

I can but I won’t—you need to look that up yourself but what I will tell you is that zoology is a branch of biology and heavy on science and math courses—anything from molecular biology and organic chemistry to physics, and specialty classes in an area of interest such as ecology.

In general a zoologist studies the structure, physiology, development, and classification of animals. A career as a zoologist requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and at least 4 years of experience…but again you have to research the job you think you might like and explore what the actual recommendations would be and here is the official zoology job description:



Studies origin, interrelationships, classification, life histories, habits, life processes, diseases, relation to environment, growth and development, genetics, and distribution of animals: Studies animals in natural habitat and collects specimens for laboratory study.

Dissects and examines specimens under microscope and uses chemicals and various types of scientific equipment to carry out experimental studies.

Prepares collections of preserved specimens or microscopic slides for such purposes as identification of species, study of species development, and study of animal diseases.

May raise specimens for experimental purposes. May specialize in one aspect of animal study, such as functioning of animal as an organism, or development of organism from egg to embryo stage.

May specialize in study of reptiles, frogs, and salamanders and be designated Herpetologist (profess. & kin.); of fish and fishlike forms and be designated Ichthyologist (profess. & kin.); of sponges, jellyfish, and protozoa and be designated Invertebrate Zoologist (profess. & kin.); of birds and be designated Ornithologist (profess. & kin.); of mammals and be designated Mammalogist (profess. & kin.).

May study animals for purposes of identification and classification and be designated Animal Taxonomist (profess. & kin.); or study effects of environment on animals and be designated Animal Ecologist (profess. & kin.).

I hope that answers your question—now get out there and do some footwork!

You can research some of the colleges with majors in zoology by clicking here.

Diana L Guerrero is an animal career specialist and has extensive experience in many areas of the animal world. A well known animal expert, she has worked professionally with animals for over thirty years. Guerrero is the author of several books and the host of the syndicated, Ark Animal Answers.