Studies & Degrees in Animal Biology

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Animal Biology is concerned with the study of the characteristics of animals; this means examining their behavior, development, genetics, and evolutionary history. Usually, people who are involved in animal biology are called zoologists, and they can be both general practitioners or they can specialize in farm animals. Depending on the area of focus, zoologists can perform different tasks. They undertake experiments to examine species and gather data on growth, reproduction, and prey. They can also observe and document the inter-relationships between animals, or between animals and their surroundings. Furthermore, the specialists in animal biology give lectures at universities, or participate in wildlife awareness programs.

Personal Qualities

To become involved in animal biology, one certainly needs to feel genuine love and interest in all types of living forms on earth. Further qualities include:

  • Enjoy research
  • Excellent attention to detail and observation skills
  • Problem solving skills
  • Confidence in both oral and written communication
  • Accuracy
  • Ability to work both independently and as a part of a team

Study Options

If you are looking to become an animal biologist, you would need to complete a college degree – a bachelor’s or a master’s degree would normally suffice for you to work as a lab assistant or a field researcher. However, if you are aiming at the organization and conduct of original research projects, then a Ph.D. in a zoology-related field would be required.

Another fact that you might consider is to gain good background knowledge in chemistry and biology, while you are still at high school. This will prepare you for the college studies that will be required to complete an undergraduate degree in animal biology or zoology. You would most likely be taking courses like embryology, organic chemistry, and environmental science. This will normally take four years, after which you may wish to specialize in a certain field, which is a very common option among biology students.

Career Options

As mentioned earlier, it is very popular among scientists to specialize in a certain field, and so do most animal biologists. You can choose to concentrate on entomology, which deals with insects; parasitology – concerned with internal and external parasites; ecology – the environment of animals; ethology - animal behavior, and so on.

An important point to mention is that most specialists in animal biology work for private research institutions and universities, museums, or laboratories. On the other hand, however, agricultural scientists are often employed by government organizations and agriculture consulting firms. They participate in the research of various methods of how to breed and raise animals whilst increasing the farm’s productivity and efficiency. In this case, the animal biology specialist undertakes tasks like the investigation of factors that have influence on milk production, the evaluation of the quality of life of the animals, and the regular testing for water or soil pollutants.