Zoologist Kaipūtaiao Kararehe

Zoologists study animals and their behaviour in the wild or in captivity, and how they interact with other species and their environments.

Zoologists may do some or all of the following:

  • study animals and their behaviour
  • study the relationship between animals and their environment
  • do research into areas such as pest control or conservation
  • do laboratory work and fieldwork
  • manage the care of animals in research centres, zoos and aquariums
  • teach university students
  • write reports and scientific articles
  • give talks to community groups and local authorities
  • advise local authorities and iwi on how to manage animal species sustainably.

Physical Requirements

Zoologists need to be reasonably fit and healthy to do fieldwork.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for zoologists includes:

  • conservation work
  • research
  • work with animals
  • laboratory work.

Personal Qualities

Zoologists need to be:

  • enquiring and observant
  • practical and accurate
  • patient and logical
  • good at problem solving
  • well organised, with good planning skills
  • skilled at writing and presenting information
  • good at research
  • able to cope with experimenting on live animals.


Zoologists need to have knowledge of:

  • animal behaviour, diseases and habitats
  • animal anatomy, physiology and biology
  • biochemistry, microbiology and parasitology
  • animal-handling skills
  • laws relevant to their work, such as the Animal Welfare Act
  • conservation issues
  • techniques for operating scientific equipment and performing experiments
  • techniques for observations, surveys and field work
  • research skills and how to analyse and present results.



  • usually work regular business hours, but may also work evenings and weekends
  • work in laboratories, offices, and outdoors in areas such as national parks and wildlife reserves
  • may work with drugs and chemicals and be exposed to animal diseases
  • may work outdoors in all weather conditions
  • often travel locally, nationally and overseas to work on projects or to attend conferences.

Zoologists can earn around $57K-$142K per year.

Pay for zoologists varies depending on qualifications, experience and where they work.

Zoologists working in universities

  • Zoology assistant lecturers usually earn between $66,000 and $85,000 a year.
  • Zoology lecturers usually earn $74,000 to $108,000 a year.
  • Zoology Senior lecturers usually earn $91,000 to $142,000 a year.
  • Zoology associate professors and professors can earn $132,000 to $213,000 a year.

 Zoologists working in Crown Research Institutes

  • Zoology technicians usually earn between $57,000 and $73,000 a year.
  • Senior zoology technicians usually earn between $67,000 and $82,000.
  • Zoology scientists usually earn between $75,000 and $111,000.
  • Senior zoology scientists can earn between $102,000 and $134,000.

Zoologists working in the private sector may earn more than this.

  • Sources: Landcare Research, 2022; Ara Academic Staff of Canterbury, ‘Collective Employment Agreement’, 2020-2022; Auckland University of Technology, ‘Academic and Associated Staff Members’ Collective Agreement’, 2019-2021; University of Auckland, ‘Academic Staff Collective Agreement’, 2019-2022; University of Canterbury, ‘Collective Employment Agreement, Academic and Associated Staff’, 2022-2024; University of Otago, ‘Academic Staff Collective Agreement’, 2021-2022; Unitec, ‘Academic Staff Collective Agreement’, 2020-2022; Wellington Institute of Technology, ‘Academic Staff Members’ Collective Agreement,’ 2021-2023.

Zoologists may progress to become lecturers, research officers or professors, or move into management roles.

Zoologists may specialise in:

  • different areas of the animal kingdom, such as birds, mammals or aquatic animals
  • conservation and environmental research
  • biosecurity
  • pest control
  • policy.

Years Of Training

3 years of training required.

To become a zoologist, you need to have a Bachelor of Science majoring in any of the following subjects:

  • zoology
  • ecology
  • microbiology
  • biotechnology
  • molecular biology.

Postgraduate qualifications, such as a Master's degree or PhD, are recommended for those wanting to work in senior research roles.

For research-based work at the technician level, a Bachelor's degree in a related science subject is the minimum entry requirement. Though many skills are learned at university, zoologists continue to develop their laboratory and experimental skills on the job.