If you are interested in training in the science and medical field to become a zoologist, you need to make sure that you understand the educational track and time commitment required to successfully complete a zoology degree program. While some colleges and universities allow you to declare a zoology major at the undergraduate level, you won't be able to find many attractive career opportunities with only a bachelor's degree in the field. In order to become a zoologist, you need to complete graduate studies and work through a doctoral degree.
Zoologists are typically trained for several years at a college or university and are involved with a variety of research projects before they can apply for a position in their field. Here's what you need to know about becoming a zoologist.
Steps to Become a Zoologist
The first step to becoming a zoologist is to make sure you are strong in subjects such as natural science, biology, physics, chemistry and math. If you need some help in these areas, get some tutoring in each subject or take a self-paced course so that you can develop the skills you need to excel in future courses. You can then move on to complete a bachelor's degree in zoology or an undergraduate degree in natural science, biology, environmental science or a related field with a minor in zoology.
After successfully completing all of your undergraduate studies, you'll need to apply for a master's degree program in the field. Graduate studies for zoology majors typically take between one to two years to complete, and these are heavily focused on research, lab work and field work. All of this hard work will prepare you for a thesis or dissertation.
If you have successfully completed all graduate-level requirements, which include lab training, classroom training in upper-level courses and the completion of any specialty courses, you can apply for the doctoral program. Keep in mind that getting into the doctoral program can be very competitive and you will need to commit to completing intensive research projects and other coursework over the course of the next two to six years.
Other Tips for Becoming a Zoologist
If you want to know how to become a zoologist and complete your educational track within a reasonable period of time, set up a meeting with a guidance counselor or academic advisor at your college or university. Counselors will be able to provide you with some direction on courses to take at the undergraduate level, what to focus on during your graduate studies, and steps you need to take in order to apply for a doctoral degree program.
Some other things to keep in mind when you want to become a zoologist:
- Career opportunities after graduate school do exist, but most are assistant positions or technician positions
- You will need a doctoral degree in zoology in order to become a research scientists or apply for any teaching positions in the field
- Most zoologists are hired by government agencies, environmental firms and natural resource centers, and will provide some on-the-job training
- Specializing in a certain field of zoology can help you obtain more attractive positions and a higher-than-average salary