A scientist that focuses on animals and their biology is called a zoologist, and there were almost 16,000 working in the United States as of 2021 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Common study subjects include an animal's species and origin, habits, interaction with other animals and humans, and genetic and biological traits. Much of the work is done in labs and on computers, but sometimes in zoos or in the wild.
Several career options regarding employers and specializations are available to an aspiring zoologist, but the salaries and benefits can vary depending on several factors. So, how much does a zoologist make? The BLS reported a nationwide average zoologist salary of $70,300 in May 2021.
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Zoologist Job Qualifications
Those interested in a zoologist job begin formal training by studying zoology or biology during college. Specialization often occurs while obtaining a master's degree, and most zoologists possess a doctorate, as it is usually necessary to teach at the university level and obtain research jobs. Some entry level positions may be open to zoologists with only a bachelor's degree. Like all scientists, zoologists should be excellent and motivated researchers and masters of data collection and organization.
Zoology Salary by Location
The location in which a zoologist works is often a significant influence on salary. Cost of living as well as local need for zoologists are common reasons for this.
In Wyoming, zoologists earned an average of $65,570 a year in May 2021, but not far away in Oregon, the wage average was $77,370 annually, according to the BLS. California had a low concentration of zoologists, but a relatively high cost of living, and provided an average salary of $78,390 a year. The highest paying area of the country was the state of Massachusetts, boasting a statewide average wage of $92,830 a year.
Zoology Salary by Employer
The largest number of zoologists worked for the government at the state level and earned $63,220 a year on average in May 2021, per the BLS. Many also worked at the federal level, but made $89,080 annually, the highest average wage for any single type of employer. The next highest paying industry was architectural and engineering services, which provided an average salary of $76,700 a year, according to the bureau.
Benefits for Zoologists
The level of benefits provided as part of a zoologist job largely depends on the the type of employer. Those working for universities will often receive the same type of benefits that all full time faculty members are entitled to, including paid vacation, health insurance, life insurance, and a 401(k) or other retirement plan. Zoologists working for the government will usually receive comparable government sponsored benefits.
Those working as curator or in high level supervisory positions may also receive bonuses. Overall, benefits can add up to another 10 to 20 percent of the value of base zoologist salary.