Careers & salaries in behavioral animal psychology

Updated November 21, 2016

Animal psychology is the scientific study of animal behaviour. Working in animal care disciplines requires patience, compassion and respect for all living creatures, indicating that animal lovers excel in the field. Education and experience help mould individuals in their chosen animal behaviour career. Understanding animal behaviour is obviously a key component for hands-on animal careers.

Animal Behavior and Psychology

Animal behaviour and animal psychology fields offer a multitude of vocation possibilities. Education and on-the-job experiences help determine the best suited career. The basis of animal behaviour study includes analysing cognition in animals. Understanding why animals display particular behaviours, good or bad, aids in determining future training required. Genetics plays a large role in animal behaviour, adding particular animal inborn traits that accompany its learnt behaviour.

Animal Behavior Careers

Animal trainers, humane society workers, field researchers and veterinary technicians all have a background in animal behaviour. Academic institutions, zoos, aquariums, amusement parks, government agencies and agricultural industries employ animal behaviourists. The goal of all animal behaviour careers is the same, to best benefit the animal. However, work environments may differ greatly. Ethologists observe animals in their natural environment while applied animal behaviourists observe companion animals in their home environments. Animal psychologists and biopsychologists analyse neurological and psychological foundations of animal behaviour.

Salary Range

As with any career field, salary varies depending on location. Animal behaviour salaries depend on the work performed and the work setting. According to Michael Hutchings, Ph.D., of the American Zoological Association, "Most animal behaviourists earn from £22,750 to £58,500 and more, depending what they do and where they work." He indicated that animal behaviour administrators typically earn higher salaries, such as Walt Disney's Wild Animal World Director of Conservation.


Animal behaviourists and psychologists study animal behaviour to understand causes, functions, development and evolution of behaviour. Most animal scientists directly involved in animal behaviour focus on ethology, comparative psychology, behavioural ecology or anthropology. These fields overlap greatly; however, psychologists and ethologists study more the behavioural function and regulation while behavioural ecologists study behavioural patterns and their relation to social and environmental conditions. The higher the education level, the better chance a candidate has of securing a career in animal behaviour and psychology.

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About the Author

Karin Barga contributes to various online publications, specializing in topics related to canines, equines and business. She earned career diplomas in bridal consulting, business management and accounting essentials. Barga is a certified veterinary assistant, holds certification in natural health care for pets, and is a licensed realtor and property manager.