How to become a zoologist in the UK

Written by simon foden Google
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How to become a zoologist in the UK
Zoology is a fascinating, rewarding and well-paid career. (Fox Photos/Valueline/Getty Images)

A zoologist can put their skills and knowledge to work in a range of areas, including doing hands-on work in the agriculture, conservation and animal welfare sectors or in research roles for government and the private sector. The starting salary is around £30,000 and this can rise to around £50,000 for senior research roles. To qualify for the majority of zoologist roles, you’ll need a degree in zoology or a related scientific discipline, such as biology or ecology.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • A-level or equivalent
  • Relevant degree qualification

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  1. 1

    Select a university course in zoology, biology, ecology or animal behaviour. The courses you can apply for vary according to your qualifications, so use the UCAS website to find universities offering relevant courses for which you qualify.

  2. 2

    Write a personal statement. Use the statement to sell yourself to the university. Talk about your extracurricular activities, your passions and your career aspirations.

  3. 3

    Go to to start an online UCAS application form to begin the university application process. You can apply to as many as universities as you like, but make sure you have the relevant projected A-level or equivalent qualifications first. If you haven’t yet taken your exams, be realistic about which courses you’ll qualify for. For example, don’t apply for a course that has a minimum UCAS tariff requirement greater than the maximum number of points you can receive once you’ve taken your exams.

  4. 4

    Accept your preferred offer. Before you take your exams, the Universities to which you applied will either make you an offer or decline your application. Offers typically depend on you achieving a set of minimum grades, although some offers are unconditional. If, when your exam result are published, you didn’t receive the necessary grades, consider applying for a different course via the UCAS clearing system or consider re-sitting your exams.

    Work experience

  1. 1

    Write to a carefully selected number of organisations with whom you’d like to volunteer once you've started your degree. The first year of study is less demanding than years two and onwards. So universities encourage undergraduates to take advantage of this by getting work experience. These may include conservation societies, zoos and universities. The Field Studies Council website publishes up-to-date information about vacancies.

  2. 2

    Keep a log of all research and work carried out during your placement. Zoology has a strong focus on data gathering, so logging research is highly relevant here. This will make applications for permanent roles easier.

  3. 3

    At ask your supervisor for a written recommendation or reference at the end of your placement. Zoology is a competitive industry, so any endorsements you can get now may give you an advantage.

    Applying for jobs

  1. 1

    Write a cover letter. This should detail your areas of interest, summarise your qualifications and include a little about your personality and the reason you believe you are right for the job you’ve seen. To save time, write a general covering letter and edit it for each specific application.

  2. 2

    Search industry relevant job postings. The Guardian website has a section for ecology and zoology related roles. Look out for part time and voluntary positions too. These may not be ideal, but could assist greatly in being considered for a permanent role in the future.

  3. 3

    Apply to those for which you qualify and that interest you. You can typically apply for jobs via an online application.

Tips and warnings

  • Save as you go when filling in your UCAS application. It's a long process and losing information can be frustrating.
  • When applying for university courses, select at least one course for which you're confident you'll definitely get the grades. This way, if your grades aren't as expected, you'll have a safety option.

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