Job Outlook For Animal Behaviorists

Regardless of the fact that a career as an animal behaviorist can be glamorous one moment and unglamorous the next, the need for animal behaviorists in the United States is an ever-growing demand.

From a dog trainer at the local pet shop to an animal trainer with a traveling circus, the need for trained and experienced animal behaviorists is growing faster than ever before.

For those who have earned a degree with an animal behaviorist major, the chances of being able to land an entry-level position in almost sector of this industry increase greatly.

Potential job openings in the animal behaviorist field may include some of the following positions.

Animal Behavior Specialist

rupikThe primary role of an animal behavior specialist is to observe and document the specific actions of an animal species to better understand its evolution and history.

Most animal behavior specialists are employed by museums, aquariums, zoos, or any other municipal exhibits with public animal showcases. Medical research industries and wildlife organizations also have a need for animal behavior specialists to observe animal reactions.

Educational Requirements

Animal behavior specialists can choose between an associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, or doctorate in animal behavior. Students will study and observe the mating rituals for animals and organisms, adaptive processes in the environment, and eating habits of the different species.

Certified instructors will teach students about why species thrive, interact, and become extinct, helping them develop documentation that is based on the nurturing mannerisms and survival techniques of the specific species. Specialists with an advanced degree will investigate and evaluate any behavioral patterns or changes, searching for any genetic or hormonal causes of specific behavior actions.

Career Outlook

Based on research conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the occupational category for animal behavior specialists is expected to expand over seven percent from 2010 to 2020.

For this specific branch of the animal behaviorist sector, the growth rate is slower than average. With regards to compensation, animal behavior specialists currently earn a median salary of $57,710 a year.

Pet Psychologist

Often referred to as veterinary behaviorists, pet psychologists offer a very specific service to pet owners who are having trouble with a specific action or behavior of their pet. Pet psychologists search for triggers that cause undesirable actions in certain pets or animal breeds, offering specific training and solutions to help prevent any further issues. Some psychologists work in veterinary clinics, while others set up their own private practice and are self-employed.

Educational Requirements

Before individuals can become pet psychologists, they must first earn their advanced degree in biological sciences of animal behavior, depending on the level of certification they are looking to attain. The required education is almost identical to that of a veterinarian, with most veterinary clinics requiring pet psychologists to hold a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in order to be considered eligible for open positions.

Pet psychologists must continue their licensing and certification beyond a university degree, taking the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam through the National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (NBVME) and any applicable state exams to become properly certified.

On top of the certification, pet psychologists must take an additional two to three years of training in the form of a mentored training program.

Career Outlook

According to research conducted by the BLS, the outlook for pet psychologists is very similar to that of veterinarians. The employment growth rate is twelve percent by 2020, which is considered to be as fast as average. The median salary for pet psychologists is $84,460 a year, with salaries continuing to rise every year to adjust for inflation.


Similar to that of an animal behavior specialist, zoologists study the habits of animals or living organisms. Zoologists often study entire ecosystems, observing the interactions among multiple species and the effects that each has on the other.

Most work conducted by zoologists is done outdoors, with collected data being taken back to a lab for analysis. The majority of zoologists conducts research and teaches at colleges and universities, while others work for federal agencies that have a concern for wildlife.

Educational Requirements

Individuals who wish to work as zoologists must earn their bachelor’s degree in general, molecular, or organismal biology. This degree opens up many career opportunities for entry-level jobs and positions at government agencies and universities. As zoologists gain more experience, opportunities for advanced positions can open up, allowing for career advancement.

For those seeking to further their education to an advanced degree, most universities offer master’s degrees and PhD programs in zoology. Graduates who obtain an advanced degree have the opportunity to find a higher level position when they enter the work force. Other career opportunities, such as university or college professors, require advanced degrees to be eligible for job vacancies.

Career Outlook

Based on research conducted by the BLS, approximately 20,100 zoologists are employed throughout the United States. The expected job growth for this sector is only five percent, which is slower than the national average for the economy. The median salary is $57,710 for zoologists, with that number expected to increase in coming years as universities and federal agencies continue to be beneficiaries of more federal spending.

Individuals who wish to enter the animal behaviorist field without the required formal training can seek positions as animal trainers. From horse riding to dog obedience training, the national need for animal training is ever-growing, providing animal behaviorists with job stability and career advancement opportunities.

For individuals just starting out, it is expected that companies will hire them on at an entry-level position. Based on surveys conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, entry-level positions as an animal trainer are expected to pay $19,860 a year based on national median salaries. Once gaining some experience, individuals can expect to earn $30,340 once they enter mid-career based on average salaries.

The animal behaviorist field, as a whole, offers great opportunities for career advancement for those who enjoy working with and around animals.

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