A zoologist is a person who studies the biology, behavior and life processes of animals. Zoologists study animals both in the wild and in controlled environments, such as zoos and labs. Many zoologists are employed by academic institutions, such as universities and museums, and by government agencies that regulate wildlife and natural resources. While the position is attractive to many, particularly individuals who wish to work with animals, the profession does have a number of downsides.
Pro: Working With Animals
One of the chief advantages of becoming a zoologist is the ability to be paid to study animals. While not everyone may find this a benefit, for animal lovers, few jobs provide a better opportunity to spent time around and learn about the thing they love. Depending on the specific job a zoologist takes, he may be allowed to handle and care for animals, or he may simply observe the animals from a distance and research them.
Pro: Job Satisfaction
Zoology provides its practitioners with a number of different satisfactions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, zoologists are often responsible not only for studying animals, but also for determining how they are affected by land use and other changes to the environment, work that will potentially help preserve them. Similarly, zoology is an intellectually challenging field, one with literally thousands of areas in which a practitioner can specialize. Zoologists hold the esteem accorded most members of academia and the sciences.
Con: Extensive Schooling Required
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most zoologists are required to receive a doctoral degree, in addition to an undergraduate and master's degree, to conduct independent research and to advance to administrative positions. While an undergraduate education typically requires four years to complete, a master's degree in zoology will take two years of additional study, while a doctoral degree will generally require at least three more years and sometimes as much as six.
Con: Difficult Job Market
As of 2008, less than 20,000 zoologists were employed in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, full-time positions for zoologists are relatively scarce, and competition for research grants is fierce. Prospective zoologists can therefore expect to have to contend with a difficult labor market after they have completed their schooling. The profession does not accord its practitioners with the same sort of job security given many other professionals who have undergone the same sort of schooling.
2016 Salary Information for Biochemists and Biophysicists
Biochemists and biophysicists earned a median annual salary of $82,180 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, biochemists and biophysicists earned a 25th percentile salary of $58,630, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $117,340, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 31,500 people were employed in the U.S. as biochemists and biophysicists.
Michael Wolfe has been writing and editing since 2005, with a background including both business and creative writing. He has worked as a reporter for a community newspaper in New York City and a federal policy newsletter in Washington, D.C. Wolfe holds a B.A. in art history and is a resident of Brooklyn, N.Y.