A zoologist is a biologist who studies animals. He investigates their origins and life cycle, their behaviours, habitats and diseases that afflict them. Often working in laboratories with captive animals, but sometimes conducting field research, a zoologist often specialises in a single species or genus of animal, such as herpetologists, who study amphibians, and primatologists, who study primates. A zoologist's pay depends upon their employment circumstances.
Data compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in May 2009 found the mean national salary for a zoologist is £39,435 per year. This equates to a monthly income of £3,286 and an hourly pay rate of £18.9. The median 50 per cent of practitioners earned an average salary of £36,725, the highest-earning 10 per cent received £60,541 annually, and the bottom 10 per cent earned £22,932.
Pay by Industry
Different industry sectors in which a zoologist might be employed offer differing average salary levels. A zoologist working for the federal executive branch was likely to receive the highest salary – £49,198. In contrast, local government agencies paid an average of £37,817, and state government a mean salary of £34,638. Scientific research and development services offered a pay rate of £39,364, while a zoologist working in a consulting capacity earned an average of £41,944 as of May 2009.
Pay by Location
Salary levels for a zoologist can vary dependent upon where he works in the country. The BLS lists Maryland as offering the highest pay rate – £59,182 per year – followed by Rhode Island ($77,440) and California ($73,160). Alaska offered a mean yearly salary of £39,539, while Montana and Wyoming were among the lowest pay rates – £37,043 and £34,287, respectively.
Pay by Experience
Wage comparison website PayScale.com, in its own survey of zoologist salaries conducted in January 2011, showed that the amount of experience that a zoologist has can impact upon his pay level. It lists the average yearly salary for a zoologist with between one and four years of experience as £19,954 to £29,791. An individual who has accrued five to nine years in the field receives an average of £24,796 to £34,419, while someone with between 10 and 19 years in the role can expect a salary of £24,791 to £42,866.
The BLS predicts that demand for biological scientists, such as zoologists, will grow by approximately 21 per cent in the decade between 2008 and 2018. This will be driven by an expansion of the biomedical research and development industry. As a result, a zoologist should continue to receive excellent pay rates. However, as zoology is a small field within the biological sciences, there will, the BLS cautions, be competition for vacancies and funding for research.