Choosing the best zoology courses depends on career goals and personal interests, as well as time available for coursework and study. For anyone who plans to have a professional career in zoology, many advanced theoretical and practical courses may be required to obtain a degree in zoology. Those who would like to understand or work with animals on a more casual level may be able to find basic zoology courses through community colleges or animal facilities.
Professional zoologists work in a wide variety of fields that required different types of training. Most professionals have an undergraduate degree in biology or zoology, but many also gain further education through graduate studies, internships, or fellowships. Some of the basic courses required for most zoology degree programs include animal biology, chemistry, genetics, and ecology. Many zoology programs allow students to specialize in a specific area, such as marine biology or animal behavior, which may come with several additional requirements. Gaining zoology certification through required coursework may be necessary to a career as a zoologist in nearly any field.
For students who wish to work with animals as trainers or zookeepers, gaining practical experience around animals is a necessary step. Many future zookeepers start learning zoology by volunteering with a local zoo, aquarium, or wildlife preserve, performing basic functions such as leading tours or even cleaning exhibits. Following college education, students may be able to apply for internships or residencies with animal facilities, where they can learn advanced skills from established trainers and caretakers.
Many zoology courses revolve around field research techniques and methods. These courses may be particularly exciting for zoology majors, as they allow opportunities for travel and up-close observation of animals. College students may be able to obtain summer internships with research teams, working on boats, in laboratories, or even in unexplored jungles as research assistants. Even non-majors can sometimes be accepted as volunteers or researchers in programs that have a constant need for new workers.
People who want to get involved with zoology but are not sure where to begin may benefit from taking survey or introductory zoology courses at a local community colleges. These introductory classes, such as physical biology, ornithology, or ecology, can give new students a broad overview of many different aspects of zoology. Taking a few introductory zoology classes can help narrow down options for further education, without taking the risk of declaring a major or specialization too early.
Zoology courses can also be useful for those who are interested in working with animals for fun. Zoos, aquariums, and animal preserves frequently offer volunteer opportunities that include some zoology training in a casual setting. Volunteers may learn how to lead tours for visitors, take care of some animal species, and help prepare food and clean animal enclosures. While volunteer-based classes do not generally offer the rigorous training associated with a zoology degree, they can still provide a wealth of knowledge and a way into the world of zoology for non-professionals.