Working with animals… What kinds of jobs can I get?

Working with animals

Dream of working with animals? There are more career paths than you think.

“It’s more diverse than people immediately think,” says Sarah Legge, a wildlife ecologist at the Australian National University in Canberra. “You can be hands-on, working in the field, or you can sit at a desk computer modelling.”

Sarah’s 30-year career has taken her all over the world, from Africa to Papua New Guinea. A major perk of her job is exploring the planet’s wilderness and learning about the inner workings of the natural world.

“When you start recognising species and how they fit together, you’ll never walk through
the forest in the same way again. The world just comes alive. It’s endlessly interesting and you’ll never be bored!”

RELATED: Wanna work with animals? Protecting them is a full-time STEM gig

Secrets from the animal kingdom

Sarah believes the secret to working with animals and wildlife is gaining first-hand experience early on.

The Australian Wildlife Conservancy and NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service run volunteer programs focussing on Australia’s threatened birds and animals. Volunteers get their hands dirty setting up traps, recording animal sightings, and restoring habitats.

For those passionate about taking care of animals, Taronga Zoo Sydney and Taronga Western Plains Zoo Dubbo take on volunteer keepers across a range of animal care activities, from chopping food to keeping enclosures clean.

RELATED: 10 cool animal jobs you could get with an animal science degree

Citizen science projects are also a great way to build skills, and you don’t even need to leave the house. Wildlife Spotter is an online project run by the Australian Museum that helps researchers monitor native animals. Participants identify and record animals in camera trap images from all over Oz, spotting almost 2.4 million animals in 2020 alone.

With over half of mammals, birds, fish, and reptiles being wiped out in the last 40 years, Sarah says, “The more young people join this discipline, the better. That’s how we’ll change the world.”

Science + animals study – start your career here

  • Bachelor of Science (Zoology) / Bachelor of Natural Science (Animal Science), Western Sydney University
  • Bachelor of Veterinary Science, James Cook University
  • Bachelor of Science (Marine Biology) / Bachelor of Science (Wildlife Conservation Biology), The University of Adelaide

Jobs working with animals

Zoologist: $50K–$86K
Wildlife biologist: $50K–$77K
Veterinarian: $53K–$101K
Zookeeper: $36K–$75K

This article originally appeared in Careers with STEM: Science 2021

Gemma Conroy

Author: Gemma Conroy

Gemma is a freelance journalist with a passion for making science accessible to everyone. Gemma has a degree in biology from Macquarie University and loves sharing amazing discoveries with the world.

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