Job Description:

Zoologists study animals, their behaviour, and their interactions with their environment to contribute to our understanding of the natural world and to support conservation efforts.

Job Category:
Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing

What you will do:

You could work in a range of areas like:

  • developing and testing new drugs
  • improving agricultural crops and livestock
  • disease and pest control
  • conserving endangered habitats and species
  • animal welfare and education
  • developing policies and enforcing regulations for government agencies

You’ll usually specialise in an area like ecology (animal environments), herpetology (reptiles), entomology (insects), parasitology (parasites) or paleozoology (fossil remains).

Your day-to-day tasks will vary depending on your role, sector and specialism. You could:

  • carry out field and laboratory research
  • study animals in their natural environment or in captivity
  • identify, record and monitor animal species
  • gather and interpret information
  • use complex procedures, like computerised molecular and cellular analysis, and in-vitro fertilisation
  • produce detailed technical reports
  • give presentations and publish information in journals and books
  • supervise technicians


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of biology
  • science skills
  • the ability to read English
  • maths knowledge
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

As well as:

  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • the ability to work well with others (teamwork skills)
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail – the ability to keenly observe animal behaviour, interactions, and natural habitats.
  • excellent written communication skills
  • organisational skills
  • analytical skills: the ability to analyse data, conduct research, and draw conclusions from scientific observations
  • patience: studying animals in their natural habitats may require patience and persistence.
  • passion for animals: a genuine love for and interest in animals, their behaviour, and their interactions with their environment.
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

Becoming a zoologist typically involves a combination of education, skills, and experience in the field of biology and animal science. While there are no strict GCSE subject requirements for this career, certain subjects can provide a strong foundation for developing the skills and knowledge needed to work as a zoologist.

Here are some relevant GCSE subjects and skills that can be beneficial:

Relevant GCSE Subjects

  1. Sciences (Biology and Chemistry): Biology is particularly important, as it forms the basis of understanding animal anatomy, physiology, behaviour, and ecology. Chemistry can also be relevant for understanding biochemical processes.
  2. Mathematics: Basic math skills are useful for data analysis, statistical interpretation, and understanding research methods.
  3. English Language: Strong communication skills, both written and verbal, are important for reporting research findings, writing papers, and presenting information.
  4. Geography: Geography can be valuable for understanding ecosystems, habitats, and environmental factors that influence animal behavior and distribution.

You’ll usually need a degree in a subject like zoology, animal ecology, animal behaviour, marine biology, environmental biology or conservation.

Experience volunteering in conservation work or a related area may help when applying for courses.

For some jobs, particularly in research, you’ll need a relevant postgraduate qualification, like a master’s degree or PhD.

Doing an internship during the summer of your second or last but one year at university can also help you gain useful knowledge and skills. Your university careers department may have links with wildlife or conservation organisations.

Working Hours and Environment:

In industry, research and higher education you’ll usually work 37 to 40 hours a week from Monday to Friday. As a field researcher you’ll work variable hours. For example you would need to work at night if you’re studying nocturnal animals.

If you work in conservation you may have to work evenings, weekends and public holidays, to attend evening meetings, supervise volunteers or host public open days.

You may need to live overseas for periods of time for some research roles.

Career Path & Progression:

With experience, you could move into other jobs like management, marketing, sales, scientific journalism or consultancy.

You could also work and study overseas.