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Becoming an Animal Behaviorist: Job Description & Salary Info In 2022

Becoming an Animal Behaviorist

Becoming an Animal Behaviorist: Job Description & Salary Info In 2022

Animal behaviorists, also called ethologists, can work in a wide variety of fields such as animal training, academic research, teaching, publishing, and advertising.

There are several ways that someone can become an animal behaviorist. The route someone takes to receive training in this field can influence the types of jobs a behaviorist can apply for. 

People who are interested in careers in animal behavior may consider looking at job listings with organizations that interest them to see what kinds of job requirements the jobs of interest have so that they can use this information when seeking their professional education.

Duties Of Animal Behaviorist

Animal behaviorists apply the principles of the science of animal behavior while studying how animals interact with each other and with their environment. They can investigate an animal’s communication methods, instinctual responses, learning methods, psychology, and group interaction skills.

An applied animal behaviorist compiles a case study to determine how an animal’s problem behavior developed. Their goal is to investigate whether the behavior is normal and is exhibited at inappropriate times or is the result of a previous negative experience.

To resolve the problem, the behaviorist may suggest various forms of treatment, including conditioning, behavior modification, and training.

Animal behavior specialists in academia can lecture students, supervise laboratory activities, and conduct and publish their own research projects. They can also collaborate with other researchers and travel to observe animals in the wild if relevant to their studies.

Career Options

Many animal behavior specialists work in the area of ​​applied animal behavior, primarily training pets and helping with the modification of behavior problems. 

Applied animal behavior specialists can work with companion animals, livestock, laboratory animals, and wildlife. Many animal behavior specialists working in the field of pet training are self-employed.

Animal behaviorists with a doctorate can work in colleges or universities as professors and researchers. Additional research opportunities that do not necessarily require a Ph.D. it can be found with private healthcare companies, laboratories, the federal government, zoos, aquariums, and museums.Other career paths for animal behaviorists include media-related options such as working in broadcasting, film, writing, and advertising.

Education And Training

Animal behaviorists generally have backgrounds in animal biology, psychology, zoology, or science. Typically, animal behaviorists earn a bachelor’s degree in one of these areas before pursuing an advanced degree in biology or psychology with a specialization in animal behavior. Advanced courses at the graduate level tend to include learning theory, comparative and experimental psychology, and physiology.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) offers board specialty certification to veterinarians through its American College of Veterinary Behaviors (ACVB). Certification involves a two-year residency program under the supervision of a board certified veterinary behaviorist and a comprehensive board examination.

The Society for Animal Behavior (ABS) offers certification as Certified Applied Animal Behavior (CAAB) to members who have earned an advanced degree (master’s or doctorate) in behavioral science and can document at least five years of practical experience in the field.

Dog trainers also work as animal behaviorists, and while they don’t necessarily have advanced degrees, they tend to have a solid background in canine training and conditioning techniques. Many are certified through the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) or other national groups.

Animal Behaviorist Typical Salary Range

The salary an animal behavior specialist earns can vary based on factors such as type of employment, job location, years of experience, and level of education.

According to, the national average salary (as of January 22, 2019) for an animal behavior specialist is $ 69,751, although salary varies by location, as professional jobs in large cities with high costs of living they tend to pay more.

Labor Outlook

While the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not separate data specifically for animal behaviorists, the prospects for career growth in related fields are expected to be quite strong. Animal care and service positions are expected to grow at a rate of about 22 percent during the decade from 2016 to 2026, while agriculture and animal science positions will grow at a rate of about 7 percent during the decade. same period, on par with the average profession. .

The growing public interest in animal behavior, specifically as it relates to their own pets, may also propel this specific niche career to grow at an even higher rate.

Frequently Asked Questions: Becoming an Animal Behaviorist

What does an animal behaviorist do?

Animal behaviorists study the way animals behave and try to determine what causes certain types of behavior and what factors can prompt behavior change. They usually specialize in certain types of animals, whether it’s fish, birds, large animals, wild animals, livestock or household pets.

What degree do you need to be an animal behaviorist?

Associate Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists have a Master’s Degree in a biological or behavioral science and at least two years of professional experience in the field. Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists have a doctorate in biological or behavioral science with five years of professional experience in the field.

How much do animal behaviorist make a year?

The salaries of Animal Behaviorists in the US range from $10,097 to $252,865 , with a median salary of $45,790 . The middle 57% of Animal Behaviorists makes between $45,790 and $114,501, with the top 86% making $252,865.

What is an animal behaviorist called?

Animal behaviorists, also called ethologists, can work in a wide variety of fields such as animal training, academic research, teaching, publishing, and advertising.

Is animal behaviorist a good career?

College teaching and research: Animal behavior is a growing discipline and jobs in teaching and research are highly competitive. Some animal behaviorists teach and/or do research at colleges and universities.

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