Zoos and Aquariums

sea turtle

“It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t like animals, and many, many people want to work with them,” shares the San Diego Zoo. Being a wildlife care specialist is a competitive position, but there are many ways to help you stand out and many other zoo and aquarium positions that work directly with animals.

There are a variety of jobs in zoos and aquariums, including:

  • Interpreter: Teaches visitors about the animals and their habitats, and provides educational programs.

  • Zookeeper: Cares for and manages the daily needs of animals, including feeding, cleaning, and observing their behavior.

  • Animal Trainer: Works with animals to teach behaviors for shows or for veterinary purposes.

  • Veterinarian: Provides medical care for animals in the zoo or aquarium.

  • Biologist: Conducts research on animals and their habitats, and contributes to conservation efforts.

  • Keeper Assistant: Assists zookeepers in caring for the animals and maintaining their habitats.

  • Marketing and Sales: Promotes the zoo or aquarium to the public and manages events and ticket sales.

  • Maintenance Worker: Maintains and repairs animal habitats, exhibits, and facilities.

Each of these jobs requires different skills and qualifications, but a love of animals and a passion for conservation is often a common trait among those who work in the zoo and aquarium field.

What should I study?
Depending on the position, the level of education can vary from a two-year degree to a graduate degree. Most students pursuing this career study biology, zoology, animal behavior, conservation science, or another related area.

What are some other ways to gain experience?
A few great ways to gain hands-on experience are through volunteer internships and paid part-time or seasonal positions. Many zoos and aquariums have programs focused on community engagement. If there is not a zoo or aquarium nearby, broaden your search to volunteering at museums, humane societies, rescue groups, or wildlife rehabilitation facilities.

Professional Development:
Careers in Zoos and Aquariums | AZA
Knowledge and Skill Guidelines for Aquarists
Wildlife Care Specialist FAQ | San Diego Zoo