Becoming a Zookeeper

Does working with exotic pets sound like a dream come true?

Many young pet lovers will desire to work-related for a zoo or become an “animal trainer,” there is no considering the education requirements, functioning conditions, or future salary possibilities. Unfortunately, most people have no idea what the day-to-day duties the a zookeeper are — the career is not simply playing through wild animals.

Additionally, over there is a far-ranging difference between becoming a zoologist v an progressed degree and working together a zookeeper v a 2 or four-year degree. Below is the lowdown on what to intend from a career together a zookeeper.

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Required education and learning for Zookeepers and also Zoologists

Zookeepers: Zookeepers call for a minimum the a two-year degree, however four-year degrees are preferred.Zoologists: A minimum that a bachelor’s degree is required to it is in a zoologist. While a zoology level will enable an individual to get a an easy animal handler position at a zoo, the room for advancement is limited. The higher paying research positions generally require an advanced degree.Bachelor’s Degrees: To attain a bachelor’s degree in zoology, core academic courses space required. This entails (at minimum): basic chemistry, essential chemistry, biology process (including molecule biology, cellular biology, developmental biology, and biochemistry), physics, and also calculus. Other, non-related coursework is likewise required—most universities have actually requirements in history, English composition, and also so forth.Advanced Degrees: Obtaining a master’s degree or Ph.D. Entails a the majority of work. The student need to be heavily associated in research, and become an skilled in a committed field (such as neurobiology or psychoneuroendocrinology).


Zookeepers may prosper attached to the pets under your care: this may reason grief when pets are traded indigenous one zoo come another.

Leah Lefler, 2010

Zoologist and also Zookeeper Colleges

Zoology programs are highly competitive, particularly at the advanced degree stage. A couple of zoology programs are thorough below:


Zookeeper working Hours

Zookeepers have to work throughout all times the pets need care. This is frequently on a revolving 24-hour schedule. Zookeepers may need to work the night transition or very early morning shift.In addition, zookeepers will have to work on major holidays and weekends. Getting desired days off (such together Christmas or Saturdays) will require seniority at the location of employment.Zoologists working for the government will most likely have much more traditional hours, despite the working hrs will vary by the individual research study project.

Zookeeper pay vs. Zoologist Pay

Zookeeper pay: The average annual pay because that a zookeeper is at around $29,000, and also may vary depending on what region you are looking at. This level of salary is an extremely close come minimum wage. Individuals who would choose to work-related for a zoo have to keep in psychic that with the low earnings coupled with expensive student loan repayments, it might be worthwhile to come to be a zoologist through an advanced degree and also get a research job with the government. Acquiring an expensive degree and working for a zoo may not carry out enough earnings to cover the an easy cost the living.Zoologist pay: According to the U.S. Bureau of labor Statistics, the average annual salary because that a zoologist to be $60,670 in 2009. The amount of pay varies by the employer: zoologists working for the federal government earn an ext than those functioning for exclusive industry. The geographical ar will also alter the pay. Because that example, zoologists functioning in Oregon deserve $63,080 on mean while zoologists in Rhode Island deserve $77,440 (according come 2009 figures). The level that education additionally determines the level that pay. A bachelor’s level in zoology will certainly earn less than an progressed degree. Note that zookeepers are not provided as zoologists because that the yearly pay statistics.

Getting a Zookeeper Job

Zookeepers knife very tiny money and also require rather a little of post-secondary education. Surprisingly, there is tho a lot of competition for the available jobs. Despite the low pay, the supply of applicants is high, which puts downward pressure on wages and also increases the amount of training and also education the employer can demand.

Many zookeeper work require endure with animal handling prior come obtaining a project at a zoo. This method that the applicant should uncover a volunteer position with an animal rehabilitation regimen before using for a place at a zoo. This could mean a year (or more) of job-related without pay, prior to obtaining a minimum-wage position in a zoo!


While some people assume zookeeping involves a many direct animal contact, the task actually needs far an ext maintenance and also cleaning than animal training.

Image Courtesy that Wikimedia Commons

Working as a Zookeeper: points to Consider

Euthanizing food because that animals: plenty of zoo inhabitants are carnivores. Job demands can encompass euthanizing rats and rabbits for usage as a food source for larger carnivores.Heavy lifting: Maintenance and also repair the the animals’ enclosures is integral to a zookeeper’s career. Lifting heavy feed sacks, equipment, and other products will call for a strong constitution.Poop duty: everyday maintenance and cleaning of the animals’ enclosures is a very large part that a zookeeper’s job.Danger: Zookeepers must face the daily risk that animal-induced injury or disease.Lack the advancement: While part zookeepers eventually advancement to administration positions, the possibility of upward mobility in this career field is much less than the of other jobs requiring university degrees.

A day in the Life the a Zookeeper

This post is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Contents is for informational or entertainment functions only and does no substitute for an individual counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: Why don't zookeepers do a most money?

Answer: The earnings for zookeepers room a result of the existing market, skill level required for the position, and laws that supply and demand. As miscellaneous zoos and animal rehabilitation facilities need to hire keepers, the variety of eligible applicants generally outnumber the variety of available positions, keeping wages reasonably low for the job. Higher skill level (veterinarians and research location with advanced degrees) demand higher salary levels.

Question: If i were to attend the 2-year zoo routine at Santa Fe college what can I have as a salary?

Answer: The salary because that a zookeeper through a 2 year degree has an mean of about $65,000 per year follow to in 2019, though this will likewise vary ~ above the geography area you are employed (expect a higher salary - and also cost of life - in major metropolitan areas and also a lower salary/cost of living in countryside areas).

Question: Is it possible to end up being a Zookeeper there is no having any experience of working with pets or a college degree?

Answer: It would be very daunting to end up being a zookeeper without any kind of experience or a university degree. I would certainly recommend obtaining the requisite education and also volunteering come accrue suffer in animal husbandry together a first step on your quest to come to be a zookeeper.

Question: Is it also late to seek a career together a zookeeper at age 32?

Answer: that is not also late to pursue a career together a zookeeper in your 30's, 40's, or beyond. Education is required, but age 32 is absolutely not "too old" to seek a brand-new career track.

Question: would it be possible to gain a job as a zookeeper v no university education yet have numerous experience?

Answer: This would count upon the zoo and also the pool of eligible candidates. If there is no one in the rental pool through a college education and your endure is taken into consideration commensurate and also acceptable through the zoo, climate it would be possible. In many cases, there space plenty of human being with the requisite education and experience to fill accessible job openings in ~ zoos approximately the nation, so it would be very complicated to achieve a position without any type of post-secondary education.

Question: how much perform zookeepers do per year?

Answer: according to, the median zookeeper salary was $22,600 - $45,100 per year in 2019.

Question: execute zookeepers occupational together?

Answer: Zookeepers generally work as part of a team in ~ different locations of the zoo - together an example, the is usual for a herpetologist to job-related with reptiles and also amphibians in addition to several pet keepers and also a zoo vet.

Question: What is the difference between an internship and also an apprenticeship?

Answer: There are several crucial differences in between an apprenticeship and an internship program. Many college students are expected to get involved in an internship program and also are sometimes readily available a place within the company, however this is absolutely not a guarantee. V an apprenticeship, friend will end your hands-on training with a project in the organization. Internships are generally unpaid, often really generalized come the type of work performed, and brief. Apprenticeships normally are paid positions, last longer than one internship, and are particular to the future job of the individual. Unfortunately, apprenticeships are rarer in the USA 보다 in Europe, and many young university students are left with an unpaid internship that offers no insurance of employment after ~ graduation.


Leah Lefler (author) from Western brand-new York ~ above April 18, 2019:

Many zoos have volunteer programs, and also this is a great place to start as a high school student. Over there are numerous colleges that specialize in zoology and also zoo-related careers. The EATM routine at Moorpark college in California is great (they have a to teach zoo and also specialize in exotic pet training. Former to applying to the EATM program, you must have efficiently completed a minimum of 5 courses in ~ the university level: introductory Biology or Zoology, freshman English Composition, publicly Speaking, Safety/First help course, and also Intermediate Algebra level math or higher. Ns hope this info helps, Kelsey!

Kelsey ~ above April 09, 2019:

I’m still in high school but I have constantly wanted to occupational with animals and when i say that everybody claims “well it is in a vet” and that’s no what I desire to do. I desire to connect with the animals. I’m hope to one day be a zookeeper but I’m worried actually obtaining there. Any type of advice for education, building experience, etc?

Leah Lefler (author) from Western new York top top January 10, 2019:

I hope you attain your dream of ending up being a zoologist, Paige. The is wonderful when your enthusiasm becomes her career!

Paige on January 10, 2019:

I have always loved animals and always will. I started off wanting to be a level vet, then I went to wanting to be a zookeeper however now I’m thinking of being a zoologist. Either way as long as I acquire to occupational with animals, I’m happy

Leah Lefler (author) native Western new York ~ above February 14, 2018:

It have the right to be challenging to assistance a household on those wages, Ajani. A career as a vet is far an ext profitable, and also might it is in something you could consider with her love that animals.

Ajani Wade top top February 13, 2018:

Wow! This was so helpful, i have loved animals since i was a little boy and also ive been researching various jobs where I can interact with animals. The main job i have been feather at at this time though is Zookeepers!! It sucks how tiny they obtain paid though, sometimes I think come myself. “How am ns going to provide for my family, with such tiny payment?” i think ns finally starting to establish Life isnt easy.

Leah Lefler (author) from Western new York top top October 24, 2017:

I wish you happy in pursuing your career, Chloe!

Chloe Kopatz on October 24, 2017:

Ok give thanks to you!

Leah Lefler (author) indigenous Western brand-new York ~ above October 22, 2017:

Most positions in a zoo will place you together a handler or carer because that one species (elephant handler, herpetologist in the reptile house, etc.), Chloe, however you may discover a position that will permit you to occupational with more than one species. Working in the nursery in ~ a zoo, because that instance, would enable you to occupational with numerous different animal species.

Chloe Kopatz on October 21, 2017:

I looovvveeeee animals so much!!!! ns really desire to either be a zookeeper or a zoologist but I desire to communicate with the animals and care for them and don't desire to execute a most work in a lab. Is it possible to it is in a zookeeper and also specialize in more than one genre that animals? i wish to take care of all of these fascinating creatures. Give thanks to you!

John Doe on might 23, 2017:

I to be a zookeeper and also its not easy

Leah Lefler (author) indigenous Western new York on march 06, 2017:

I great you luck, Noah! ns hope you have actually a fulfilling career together a zookeeper!

Noah frost on in march 01, 2017:

I'm 13 years old i love animals and also I love biology and I've always wanted to it is in a zookeeper in the future I will absolutely be a zookeeper wish me luck

Shawnae top top January 27, 2017:

This looks choose my kennel attendant job simply working through larger an ext potentially dangerous animals. I would certainly love to have a career in this field.

Leah Lefler (author) indigenous Western brand-new York on October 18, 2015:

Many zookeepers have pet training as part of their job, an especially for clinical procedures.

Francheska ~ above October 15, 2015:

Can girlfriend trained animals and be a zookeeper too?

Leah Lefler (author) from Western brand-new York on April 22, 2015:

It is a good career selection for those that love animals! many thanks for the comment, sanasiddiqui!

sanasiddiqui on April 22, 2015:

Great Hub. That is a job which can be done with civilization who are passionate about animals.

Leah Lefler (author) native Western brand-new York on march 26, 2015:

I love animals, too, Kristen! i do have actually a biology degree, but mainly job-related with software and also paper.

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Kristen Howe indigenous Northeast Ohio on February 24, 2015:

Great hub. I love animals. However biology never worked out for me in college--lab included. Thanks for the information.

Leah Lefler (author) from Western new York top top July 23, 2014:

Hopefully human being who enter this field will select to job-related with an accredited zoo through the appropriate safety precautions, crysolite. Say thanks to you for bringing safety and security to the forefront of the discussion, as it is a vital consideration!

Emma indigenous Houston TX ~ above July 02, 2014:

This is cool, however quite risky. Any type of one connected in zookeeping needs to be careful and watchful!