Animal Career Chat: Gina’s Questions

One of the things I encourage new visitors to do is to visit the Animal Career Secrets blog and the Unusual Animal Career series here at ArkAnimals.Com since most of the questions that get submitted are already answered there.

However, I always welcome questions from my subscribers and Gina wrote:

I have been interested in animals since i was about 5 years old.

I wanted to become a vet but the chances of getting into a university to study veterinary science is 1:3 so I found about some information in zoology and animal behaviorism and I would like to ask some questions.

When you become a animal behavourist do you have to work with household pets like dogs and cats or can you choose to work with wild animals like elephants and lions?

Twenty or so years ago the behavior of animals was not considered a unique profession.

However today you can become a certified animal behaviorist or a veterinary animal behaviorist and can chose to work with wild or domestic animals–however it is the domestic animal studies that you will find in most institutions that offer a degree.

Most of the people who are behavior specialists in a specific species, such as zoo animals, have studied or work with those animals on a daily basis.

The difficulty in specializing in a particular species is that you isolate your career options.

Also, when I was discussing this topic with some of the primate behavior specialists–they actually lamented over the fact they had to struggle to find new funding annually to keep their programs going.

So, you really have to decide if you are interested in working with pet owners and domestic animals or wild animals and zoos.

Most behavior jobs with zoos are “in house” which means they are promoted internally. Usually those people start with a particular interest and then study behavior.

Many begin with specific general degrees and then participate in behavior internships to get where they want to go.

Because of the differences between working with wild and domestic animals you should decide which type of animals you want to work with before you begin to proceed.

If you are concerned over job opportunities and income levels–you’ll find more opportunities and higher income possibilities in the domestic animal behavior field.

Do you have to be self – employed or can you work with a organization?
It depends on your choice.

Most wild animal behavior positions are in zoos, museums, or wild animal facilities. In some cases you can study animals in the wild.

Self-employment is a great option if you are a self starter with entrepreneurial spirit and if you pursue a veterinary behavior certification you would more likely be self employed–although you can be employed by a clinic or become a clinic associate.

Do you have to be registered with an organization to practice what you’ve learned?

You’d have to check into the regulations of the country (city) that you live in. For instance, in private practice the very minimum you will need to have a business license and insurance in addition to any certifications or degrees you have earned.

Today you can find groups that give certifications (outside of the degree programs) to those that are practicing but these groups are fairly new.

Professionals have banded together to organize and create more professionalism in the filed because in the past there have not been regulations or standards in this field.

It can get overwhelming because there are groups for consultants, for those who are involved with zoos–and then those that are involved in a specific species such as primates or marine mammals.

Subscribing to some of the specialty publications that are specific to animal behavior is also a great way to see trends in the industry and keep on top of current topics.

Since you are not yet in the industry and wanting to explore career options, it would be a good idea to get involved in some of these professionals groups (stay tuned for the special report on this topic) and to network with professionals in the field.

Finally, what is the difference in animal behaviorism and zoology?
Animal behaviorism is the study of animal behavior and psychology while zoology is a broader degree that studies animal life (and can cover a wide variety of areas versus just studying behavior).

Thanks for writing in.

Keep us posted on your progress and don’t forget that I do offer coaching and consultations on animal careers.

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