How do I Become an Animal Behaviorist?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

There are a number of ways in which someone can become an animal behaviorist. The route someone takes to receive training in this field can influence the types of jobs which a behaviorist can apply for. People who are interested in careers in animal behavior may want to consider looking up job listings at organizations they are interested in to see what kind of job requirements jobs of interest have so that they can use this information when pursuing their professional education.

Different types of animals.
Different types of animals.

In order to become an animal behaviorist, it is necessary to have a bachelor's degree at a minimum. Degrees in topics like animal behavior, zoology, and biology can be applied to careers in animal behavior. People who work as animal behaviorists may help pet owners with misbehaving companion animals, work with zoo animals, study animals in the wild to learn more about animal behavior, and research animal behavior to gain a deeper understanding of human behavior. All of these careers require slightly different areas of training and specialization which can include psychology, anthropology, and animal science.

With a bachelor's degree, some people find entry level jobs in facilities like zoological parks to work with animals and learn more about their behavior. It is also sometimes possible to work for an organization which studies animal behavior and to receive training on the job. However, it is common for someone who wants to become an animal behaviorist to pursue an advanced degree, rather than stopping here.

People who go to veterinary school can receive additional training in animal behavior and graduate with a doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM) degree which will allow them to practice medicine along with studying animal behavior. A master of science or PhD is also an option for someone who wants to become an animal behaviorist. This advanced education provides people with opportunities to do research, work with leading members of the animal behavior field, and expand their skillset to be more employable.

A final step for someone who wants to become an animal behaviorist is professional certification. While this is not required to practice as an animal behaviorist, it will make someone more employable and also provide networking opportunities. There are several organizations of animal behaviorists which offer certifications to their members. People must generally demonstrate educational competency and provide a resume which includes experience with animals to receive certification and some organizations also administer tests.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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