Zoological Dentist Career Profile

Do you want to work as a Zoological Dentist?

READ: This page helps you to read about the career and the info you need to decide on whether this is indeed the career you want to follow.

RESEARCH: ​Learn about the skills required and minimum subjects to enter this career, as well as the places where you can study further after school.

PREPARE: If you want to plan and prepare for your career, then join the OZT Community! Members have access to tools while chatting with other students and experts from around the world. Prepare to be amazed!


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24 June 2024

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What is a Zoological Dentist?

A zoological dentist, also known as a veterinary dentist, is a specialized veterinarian who focuses on the oral health care of animals, particularly those in zoos, wildlife parks, and aquariums. These professionals are trained to diagnose, treat, and prevent diseases, disorders, and injuries of the teeth, gums, and other parts of the oral cavity in a wide variety of animals.

Animal Career Profiles

Alternative Names

Depending on the country and employer, the career might also be called:

  • Zoo and Wild Animal Dentist

Career Categories

The Zoological Dentist career can be found within the following OZT career categories:

  • Health
  • Business
  • Zoos, Aquariums, Museums and Theme Parks

What does a Zoological Dentist do?

Groups of animals a Zoological Dentist works with

Mammals List Icon OZT

What is the level of Interaction with the Animals?

With who does a Zoological Dentist work with?

Besides working with all of the animals, Zoological Dentists will need to interact with other people while doing their daily tasks. The people might include fellow staff members or the public.

Fellow staff might include:

  • Supervisors/Managers
  • Operational staff, such as Human Resources, Finance and Maintenance
  • Veterinary staff
  • Lab Technicians
  • Zookeepers

What does a Zoological Dentist focus on?

They focus on the use of specialized treatments to ensure that the teeth and mouths of wild animals remain healthy. They also do research to control possible dental illnesses.

What are the daily tasks of a Zoological Dentist?

  • Diagnoses animal health problems
  • Medicates animals suffering from dental infections
  • Performs minor to complex surgery
  • Advises owners about animal feeding
  • Provides preventive care to maintain the health of animals
  • Performs diagnostic tests such as X-rays

In which environment does a Zoological Dentist work in?

What are the environment and places of employment like?

Environment –

They treat sick animals, mainly within the confines of zoos or aquariums. Animals can be treated in their enclosures, or within the animal hospital on site.

Places of Employment –

Most Zoological Dentists may be employed or contracted by hospitals, government agencies, educational institutions, wildlife management groups, zoos, aquariums and theme parks.

What is the Average Yearly Salary for a Zoological Dentist?

South Africa:  R470,000
Australia:  AU$65,000
UK:  £30,000
USA:  $75,000

Can a Zoological Dentist be promoted?

Promotion to senior levels are available in most careers. The levels of each promotion might differ from organization to organization, but generally are the following for zoo veterinarians who work for an organization:

Junior Veterinarian > Senior Veterinarian > Head Veterinarian > Department Manager or Director

What difficulties does a Zoological Dentist face?

Being a Veterinarian does have some difficult moments, and it’s good to know these things before you truly make a decision to pursue this career:

  • Most veterinarians are on call around the clock since emergencies can occur at any time.
  • Schedules may include evenings, weekends, and holidays.
  • Dealing with sick animals and their distraught owners can be very stressful.
  • Vets may in certain circumstances need to put an animal to sleep, called euthanasia.
  • Sick or frightened animals may bite, kick, or otherwise injure those who are treating them.
  • Working in the wild is exactly what it means.
  • The outdoors can be dangerous and even life threatening.

​Future growth and Possibilities

Employment of veterinarians is projected to grow by 9% annually, one of the highest for an occupation, mainly due to the growth in wildlife veterinary sciences.

Availability of Jobs


Which Skills do Zoological Dentists need?

The skills required for a career as a zoological dentist can be divided into two very important groups. The first is the group containing life skills, which are the core skills that are necessary or desirable for full participation in everyday life. The second group is career skills, or the specific skills required to allow a person to enter and operate effectively within a specific career. Some or maybe even all of the life skills can assist in strengthening the career skills, and they might even be the same for specific careers.

Life Skills

  • Self-awareness
  • Empathy
  • Critical thinking
  • Creative thinking
  • Decision making
  • Problem Solving
  • Effective communication
  • Interpersonal relationship
Life Skills

Career Skills

  • Animal handling
  • Animal care
  • Customer service
  • handle instruments
  • good ovverall health
  • computer literate
Career Skills

Which Subjects must I have at School to help me prepare for this career?

The subjects you choose at school are important as they lay the foundation for further studies at college or university. While still at school, it’s also important to learn more about the animals you will work with, as well as gain some experience.

OZT has a list of various tertiary institutions where you can study further, after school. Each of these institutions also have their own Group page on OZT where you will find the exact subjects they require of you to have passed in school. Keep these requirements in mind, and discuss it with your school, guidance counselor and parents to ensure that you are prepared!

What will I need to Study to become a Zoological Dentist?

Minimum Requirements

To become a Vet you will need to study towards a Doctoral Degree in Veterinary Sciences, starting out with a Bachelor’s in Veterinary Science (BVSc). To specialize in working with wildlife requires at least another 2 years of intense studies in wildlife medicine, which includes the study of teeth.

Study Focus

Studying veterinary medicine will automatically indicate the subjects to follow. You will only have a far broader choice as you start to specialize.

Study Duration

The duration of a Bachelor’s Degrees can be up to 4 years, and another 4 years for a Doctorate. Short Courses are usually between a few weeks and a year.

FREE Career Path Plan

If this is your dream career that you want to pursue, then it’s important to plan the way forward.

Why is planning important?

​To ensure that you understand the requirements for your career, and that you are always prepared for the next step on the road towards your dream. A preparation path is like a road map to where you want to be.

Possible Paths:

Here is a detailed career preparation path for a high school student aspiring to become a zoological dentist, structured around the points provided:

1. Attend Career Guidance Sessions

Meet with school career counsellors to discuss interests in veterinary and zoological fields. Gain a clear understanding of what a career as a zoological dentist entails and the necessary steps to achieve it.

2. Research All of the Possible Careers

Investigate various veterinary careers, including veterinary dentistry, exotic animal care, and wildlife veterinary medicine. Understand the scope of work, required qualifications, job prospects, and specialisations within the field.

3. Explore Educational Paths

Look into pre-veterinary programmes, veterinary schools, and specialized training in veterinary dentistry. Identify colleges and universities that offer strong veterinary programs and additional certifications in dentistry.

4. Align High School Subjects with the Educational Path

Focus on science courses such as biology, chemistry, and physics. Take advanced placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses if available. Build a strong foundation in the sciences, which are crucial for veterinary studies.

5. Obtain a High School Diploma or Equivalent

Maintain good grades and complete all required coursework to graduate. Ensure eligibility for college admissions.

6. Learn About Animals That You Will Work With

Study various animal species, particularly those commonly found in zoos and wildlife parks. Develop a broad knowledge of animal biology, behaviour, and specific dental needs.

7. Align Post-School Path with Career Goals

Decide whether to go straight into a job, pursue further education, or start a business related to veterinary services. Create a clear plan for the next steps after high school.

8. Gain Experience Through Volunteering, Internship, Mentorship, etc.

Volunteer at local animal shelters, zoos, or veterinary clinics. Seek internships or mentorship opportunities with veterinarians. Gain hands-on experience and practical insights into animal care and dentistry.

9. Pursue Extracurricular Activities

Join clubs related to animal science, such as 4-H, Future Farmers of America (FFA), or a biology club. Participate in science fairs or animal-related community service. Enhance your resume and develop leadership and teamwork skills.

10. Join Professional Associations

Become a student member of organisations like the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) or the American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS). Access resources, networking opportunities, and industry knowledge.

11. Gain Specialised Skills

Learn basic veterinary skills such as handling animals, administering medications, and understanding dental equipment. Prepare for advanced veterinary training and practical work.

12. Network with Professionals

Attend veterinary conferences, workshops, and seminars. Connect with professionals in the field through social media and professional networks. Build a network of contacts who can offer guidance, job opportunities, and mentorship.

13. Enter the Job Market, Finish Tertiary Studies, or Launch a Business

After completing a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) programme, pursue additional certification in veterinary dentistry. Look for job opportunities in zoos, wildlife parks, aquariums, or specialised veterinary practices. Secure a position as a zoological dentist or establish your own veterinary dental practice.

14. Stay Updated and Pursue Continuing Education

Keep up with the latest developments in veterinary dentistry through continuing education courses, workshops, and professional development programmes. Maintain certification, enhance skills, and stay current with advancements in the field.

By following these steps, a high school student can systematically prepare for a rewarding career as a zoological dentist, ensuring they acquire the necessary education, experience, and professional connections along the way.

Possible Combined Career Paths

It is possible to sometimes combine two or more related careers. This normally happens when you study and practice a specific main career, but the knowledge and experience gained also help you to have a paying hobby or secondary income career.

Possible Alternatives (there are a lot more):

Training and Apprenticeship

Even though it is important to study to get into some of the animal careers, most of the skills you will need as a veterinarian will be acquired through practice. This means that you will learn how to perform some of the daily tasks by actually doing it a few times and learning the steps.

Apprenticeship is also possible where you need to learn skills from a more senior veterinarian.

Join the Zoological Dentists Group in the OZT Community to learn more and even interact with the educational institutions that will help you secure your dream career!

Average level of education of all the people who enter the career:

High School Certificate 0%
Diploma or Short Courses 0%
Degree or Higher Studies 0%

Licenses, Certificate, Registration and Professional Associations

Certain animal careers require some form of legal certification to prove that you can indeed do the work, and work with the necessary equipment.

Learn more about requirements by joining the OZT Community.

Where can I study further?

All of the above information will help you understand more about the Career, including the fact that there are different paths to take to reach it. But if you are almost done with High School (Grades 11 or 12), you also need to start thinking about further studies, and WHERE you will study.

See the List of Universities, Colleges and Online Training Academies who offer courses towards zoology.


Join the OZT community and career chat Group

Join us as a special member and learn more about becoming a Zoological Dentist.

Members of the Platform have special access to:

  • Info on the best places where you can study (colleges, universities and online)
  • Expertly designed advice to prepare you for the career, and links to places where you can gain valuable experience. For some career experience is necessary, otherwise you wont get the job!
  • Top notch info on each of the different species you will work with
  • Make friends around the world and share knowledge
  • Compete and win points, badges, games, prizes and certificates. Be the best of the best, while you learn and prepare!

If you have decided on being a Zoological Dentist, please click on the JOIN GROUP button. Members will be directed to the Group, while non-members will be assisted to register first.

If this career is NOT the career for you, then you may return to the MAIN CAREER menu, and search for something different.

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