Animal Behaviourist Career Profile

Do you want to work as an animal behaviourist?

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: ‚ÄčLearn 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 the 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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23 January 2024

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What is an animal behaviourist?

An Animal Behaviourist studies the way animals behave and tries to determine what causes certain types of behaviour and what factors can prompt behaviour change.

‚ÄčThey usually specialize in specific kinds of species, whether it’s fish, birds, large animals, insects, livestock or household pets.

Kitten 1

Alternative Names

An animal behaviourist may be referred to by various alternative names, depending on their specific focus, expertise, or the context in which they work. Some alternative names for an animal behaviourist include:


Ethologists study animal behaviour in a natural setting, often focusing on the observation of behaviour in the wild.

Applied Animal Behaviourist:

This term is often used when the focus is on applying knowledge of animal behaviour to address specific issues, such as behavioral problems in pets.

Zookeeper or Zoo Animal Behaviourist:

Individuals working in zoos may be involved in observing and managing the behaviour of animals in captivity, and they may be called zookeepers or zoo animal behaviourists.

Veterinary Behaviourist:

These professionals are veterinarians with additional training in animal behaviour, specialising in the diagnosis and treatment of behavioural issues in animals.

Companion Animal Behaviour Consultant:

Professionals working with pet owners to address behaviour problems in companion animals may use this term.

Canine Behaviourist or Feline Behaviourist:

Some behaviourists specialise in working with specific types of animals, such as dogs or cats.

Aquatic Animal Behaviourist:

Individuals studying the behaviour of aquatic animals, such as fish or marine mammals, may use this title.

Avian Behaviourist:

Experts focusing on the behaviour of birds may be called avian behaviourists.

These terms may overlap, and individuals may use different titles based on their specific training, background, and nature of their work with animals.

Career Categories

The Animal Behaviourist career can be found in the following career categories:

  • Health
  • Business
  • Marine Conservation
  • Wildlife Conservation
  • Zoos, Aquariums, Theme Parks and Museums


Animal Behaviorism as a movement and career started way back in the 16th Century

Covert Behaviour?

Behaviour that can't be observed, such as dreaming and thinking.

What does an Animal Behaviourist do?

With which Groups of animals does an Animal Behaviourist work with?

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Dogs List Icon OZT
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Farm Animals Icon OZT
Farm Animals
Mammals List Icon OZT
Birds List Icon OZT
Fish List Icon OZT
Reptiles List Icon OZT
Amphibians List Icon OZT
Mollusks Link Icon OZT

What is the level of Interaction with the Animals?

With whom does an Animal Behaviourist work?

An animal behaviourist may work with a diverse range of individuals, organisations, and entities, depending on their specialisation and area of expertise. Here are some of the groups with whom an animal behaviourist may collaborate:

Pet Owners:

Animal behaviourists often work with individuals who own pets, providing guidance on training, addressing behavioural issues, and improving the overall relationship between pets and their owners.


Animal behaviourists may collaborate with veterinarians to address behavioural problems that can affect an animal’s health and well-being. They may work together to develop comprehensive treatment plans.

Zoos and Aquariums:

In a zoo or aquarium setting, animal behaviourists may work with zookeepers, curators, and other staff to observe and manage the behaviour of captive animals. They may contribute to enrichment programmes and address issues related to captivity.

Research Institutions:

Some animal behaviourists engage in research to advance our understanding of animal behaviour. They may work with other researchers, scientists, and academics in universities or research institutions.

Wildlife Conservation Organisations:

Animal behaviourists may collaborate with conservationists and wildlife biologists to study and protect endangered species. Understanding the behaviour of wild animals is crucial for effective conservation efforts.

Animal Shelters and Rescues:

Animal behaviourists may assist in evaluating and rehabilitating animals in shelters or rescues, providing guidance on behaviour modification to increase adoption rates and improve the welfare of animals.

Government Agencies:

In some cases, animal behaviourists may work with government agencies involved in wildlife management, conservation, or animal welfare to provide expertise on behavior-related issues.

Training Facilities:

Those specialising in animal training may work with organisations that train service animals, working dogs, or animals for entertainment purposes, collaborating with trainers and handlers.

Educational Institutions:

Animal behaviourists may teach and mentor students in universities or educational institutions, sharing their knowledge and expertise in the field of animal behaviour.

Private Businesses:

Some animal behaviourists may work with businesses that provide pet-related services or products, offering expertise in areas such as product development, training programmes, or pet behaviour consulting.

Collaboration with these various stakeholders allows animal behaviourists to apply their knowledge and skills in different contexts, contributing to the well-being of animals in diverse settings.

What does an Animal Behaviourist focus on?

Animal behaviourists often work with a variety of species, including domestic pets, farm animals, zoo animals, and wildlife. They may focus on different aspects of behaviour, such as social interactions, mating behaviours, feeding habits, communication, and responses to environmental stimuli.

Some animal behaviourists focus on the evolution of animal behaviour over a period of time based on their environment. For example, they may study how an elephant’s behaviour changes after being brought into a zoo.

An applied animal behaviourist compiles a case study to determine how an animal’s problematic behaviour developed. Their goal is to investigate whether the behaviour is a normal one simply being exhibited at inappropriate times or if it is the result of a prior negative experience.

To resolve the problem, the behaviourist may suggest various forms of treatment, including conditioning, behaviour modification, and training.

Animal behaviourists identify behaviours and try to ask questions, such as:

  • What caused the animal to perform the behaviour at this particular moment?
  • When does the animal first perform it, and does it require learning?
  • What is the function or purpose of the¬†behaviour?
  • Can we track the animal to see how or if it’s behaviour has changed?

What are the daily tasks of an Animal Behaviourist?

The daily tasks of an animal behaviourist can vary based on their specific job role, area of expertise, and the setting in which they work. However, here are some common tasks that animal behaviourists may engage in on a day-to-day basis:


Animal behaviourists often spend time observing the behaviour of animals in various settings, such as zoos, research facilities, or natural environments. This observation helps them understand and document normal behaviours as well as identify any abnormal or problematic behaviours.

Data Collection:

Animal behaviourists may collect data on different aspects of animal behaviour, including social interactions, feeding habits, mating behaviours, and responses to environmental stimuli. This data is crucial for their research or when addressing specific behavioural issues.


Conducting research to contribute to the existing knowledge of animal behaviour is a significant aspect of the work for many animal behaviourists. This could involve designing experiments, analysing the data, and publishing the findings in academic journals.


Animal behaviourists working with pet owners may conduct consultations to assess and address behavioural issues in companion animals. They may provide advice on training methods, behaviour modification, and environmental enrichment.

Training Sessions:

For those specialising in animal training, daily tasks may include conducting training sessions with animals. This could involve teaching specific behaviours, commands, or tasks to animals in captivity or working with service animals.


Animal behaviourists often collaborate with other professionals, such as veterinarians, zookeepers, trainers, and researchers. Communication and collaboration are crucial for addressing complex behavioural issues and implementing effective solutions.

Client Communication:

If working with pet owners or clients, animal behaviourists may spend time communicating with them to understand the animal’s history, discuss behavioural concerns, and provide guidance on behaviour modification strategies.

Enrichment Programmes:

In zoo or captive animal settings, animal behaviourists may be involved in designing and implementing enrichment programmes to enhance the well-being of animals. This could include providing stimulating activities and environmental changes.

Documentation and Reporting:

Animal behaviourists often need to document their observations, research findings, and recommendations. This documentation helps in tracking progress, sharing information with colleagues, and contributing to the body of knowledge in the field.

Education and Outreach:

Some animal behaviourists may be involved in educational activities, such as teaching courses, giving lectures, or conducting workshops to share their expertise with students, professionals, and the general public.

It’s important to note that the specific tasks can vary widely based on the individual’s role, specialisation, and the nature of the organisation or institution they work for.

The working environment of an Animal Behaviourist

Where does an Animal Behaviourist work?

The working environments and places of employment for an animal behaviourist can vary depending on their specialisation and the nature of their work. Here’s a breakdown of potential indoor and outdoor working environments and places of employment for animal behaviourists:

Indoor Working Environments:


Animal behaviourists involved in research may work in laboratories, conducting experiments to study various aspects of animal behaviour. This environment allows for controlled conditions and precise data collection.

Classrooms and Educational Institutions:

Some animal behaviourists work in classrooms and educational institutions, teaching courses related to animal behaviour, ethology, or related fields.

Consultation Rooms:

Animal behaviourists working with pet owners or clients may have indoor consultation spaces where they meet with clients to discuss behavioural issues and provide guidance.


Those involved in administrative tasks, data analysis, and report writing may work in office settings within universities, research institutions, or organisations.

Zoos and Aquariums:

Animal behaviourists in zoo settings may have indoor offices or workspaces where they plan and analyse behavioural observations, develop enrichment programmes, and collaborate with zoo staff.

Animal Shelters and Rescues:

Animal behaviourists working with shelter animals may have indoor spaces for conducting behaviour assessments, training sessions, and consultations with shelter staff and potential adopters.

Training Facilities:

Animal behaviourists specialising in training may work in indoor training facilities, conducting training sessions with animals for various purposes, such as service work, entertainment, or obedience.

Outdoor Working Environments:

Zoos and Wildlife Reserves:

Animal behaviourists in zoo settings often spend time outdoors observing and working with animals in their enclosures. They may be involved in designing outdoor environments that promote natural behaviours.

Research Expeditions:

Some animal behaviourists, especially those studying wildlife, may participate in outdoor research expeditions to observe animals in their natural habitats.


Animal behaviourists working with farm animals may spend time outdoors on farms, observing and addressing behavioural issues in livestock.

Conservation Fieldwork:

Animal behaviourists involved in wildlife conservation may engage in outdoor fieldwork to study and protect endangered species in their natural environments.

Dog Parks and Training Areas:

Those specialising in dog behaviour and training may conduct outdoor sessions in dog parks or designated training areas.

Animal Sanctuaries:

Animal behaviourists working in sanctuaries for rescued or retired animals may spend time outdoors overseeing the well-being of the animals and developing enrichment activities.

Environmental Education Programmes:

Some animal behaviourists may be involved in outdoor educational programmes, teaching the public about wildlife and conservation in natural settings.

Overall, the working environments of animal behaviourists are diverse, ranging from indoor research settings to outdoor fieldwork and interactions with animals in various contexts. The specific environment depends on the focus of their work and the nature of their employment.

What is the average annual salary of an Animal Behaviourist?

Salaries for animal behaviourists can vary widely based on factors such as education, experience, specialisation, location, and the specific industry in which they work. Additionally, salary information is subject to change over time. Here is a general overview of average annual salaries for animal behaviourists in the specified countries and regions:



The average annual salary for animal behaviourists in the United States can range from $40,000 to $80,000 or more, depending on factors such as experience, education, and the specific job role.


In Canada, the average annual salary for animal behaviourists can vary but generally falls within the range of $40,000 to $70,000.


Salaries for animal behaviourists in the United Kingdom typically range from £25,000 to £40,000 per year.


Salaries for animal behaviourists in India can vary widely but may range from INR 3,00,000 to INR 8,00,000 per year, depending on factors like experience and location.


In Australia, the average annual salary for animal behaviourists is around AUD 60,000 to AUD 80,000, but it can vary.

New Zealand:

Salaries for animal behaviourists in New Zealand can range from NZD 45,000 to NZD 70,000 or more.


Salaries for animal behaviourists in Nigeria can vary, but they may range from NGN 1,000,000 to NGN 3,000,000 per year.


In Kenya, salaries for animal behaviourists may range from KES 500,000 to KES 1,500,000 per year.

South Africa:

Salaries for animal behaviourists in South Africa can vary but may be in the range of ZAR 200,000 to ZAR 500,000 per year.


South America:

Salaries for animal behaviourists in South America can vary by country and economic conditions but may generally range from $15,000 to $40,000 or more.


Salaries for animal behaviourists in Europe can vary significantly by country. In Western European countries, such as Germany, France, or the Netherlands, salaries may range from ‚ā¨30,000 to ‚ā¨60,000 or more.

South East Asia:

Salaries for animal behaviourists in Southeast Asia can vary by country and economic conditions. In countries like Singapore or Malaysia, salaries may range from SGD 30,000 to SGD 60,000 or more.

Can an Animal Behaviourist be promoted?

Promotion levels for an animal behaviourist can vary depending on the organisation, industry, and individual career goals. However, here are three general promotion levels for an animal behaviourist, along with the key factors under each level:

Entry-Level Animal Behaviourist


Bachelor’s degree in a relevant field such as animal science, biology, psychology, or ethics.
Basic coursework in animal behaviour, psychology, or related disciplines.


Assisting senior behaviourists in data collection and analysis.
Implementing basic behavioural enrichment programmes. Conducting observations and assessments under supervision.
Providing support in training sessions or consultations.


Entry-level positions may not require specific certifications, but relevant coursework or internships can enhance qualifications.

Mid-Level Animal Behaviourist


Master’s degree in animal behaviour, ethics, or a related field. Specialised coursework and research experience in the chosen area of animal behaviour.


Designing and implementing behavioural research projects.
Leading behavioral assessments and developing enrichment strategies. Training and mentoring entry-level staff or interns. Collaborating with veterinarians, zookeepers, or other professionals.


Obtaining certifications from relevant professional organisations (e.g., International Association of Animal Behaviour Consultants).

Senior/Lead Animal Behaviourist


Ph.D. in Animal behaviour or a closely related field.
Significant research contributions and publications in peer-reviewed journals.


Designing and leading complex research projects. Developing and implementing comprehensive animal welfare programmes. Providing leadership and guidance to the animal behaviour team. Collaborating with industry experts and participating in conferences.


Achieving advanced certifications or recognition in the field.
Serving as a mentor for junior professionals seeking certification.

Director of Animal Behaviour or Chief Animal Behaviourist


Terminal degree (Ph.D.) with a substantial record of research and leadership experience.


Overseeing and directing the entire animal behaviour department or programme. Setting strategic goals for animal welfare and behaviour programmes. Establishing and maintaining collaborations with external organisations. Representing the organisation at conferences and in the media.


Holding advanced certifications and demonstrating a sustained impact on the field. May serve as a reviewer or board member for relevant professional certification organizations.

What difficulties can an Animal Behaviourist face?

Animal behaviourists may encounter a variety of challenges in their profession, and these challenges can arise from different aspects of their work. Here are some potential challenges that animal behaviourists may face:

Physical Demands:

Lifting and Handling:

Working with animals may involve physical activities such as lifting, handling, or restraining animals, which can pose physical demands.

Outdoor Work:

Depending on the setting, animal behaviourists may need to work outdoors in various weather conditions, which can be physically demanding.

Safety Concerns:

Animal Behaviour:

Safety concerns may arise from unpredictable animal behaviour, especially when working with large or potentially aggressive animals.

Zoonotic Diseases:

Animal behaviourists working closely with animals may face risks of exposure to zoonotic diseases.

Variability in Working Conditions:

Diverse Environments:

Animal behaviourists may work in a range of environments, from laboratories and offices to outdoor settings and farms, leading to variability in working conditions.

Emotional Challenges:

Animal Welfare Issues:

Dealing with cases of animal abuse, neglect, or euthanasia can be emotionally challenging for animal behaviourists.

Client Emotions:

Working with pet owners facing behavioural issues with their animals can involve managing clients’ emotions and expectations.

Business Management:

Private Practice Challenges:

Animal behaviourists running private practices may face challenges related to marketing, client acquisition, and managing the business aspect of their services.

Regulatory Compliance:

Ethical Considerations:

Adhering to ethical standards in research and behaviour modification practices is crucial, and animal behaviourists must navigate regulatory compliance and ethical considerations.

Continuing Education:

Staying Updated:

Keeping up with the latest research and advancements in animal behaviour science requires ongoing education, which can be time-consuming.

Unpredictable Work Hours:

Fieldwork and Emergencies:

Animal behaviourists, especially those working with wildlife or in rescue situations, may have unpredictable work hours, including responding to emergencies or conducting fieldwork during non-traditional hours.

Public Perception:


Animal behaviourists may face challenges in public perception, with misunderstandings about their role, methods, or the purpose of their work.

Team Collaboration:

Interdisciplinary Collaboration:

In collaborative environments, animal behaviourists may need to work with professionals from diverse fields, requiring effective communication and collaboration.

Advocacy for Animal Welfare:

Navigating Conflicting Interests:

Advocating for animal welfare may involve navigating conflicting interests among stakeholders, such as researchers, animal owners, and policymakers.

Funding Constraints:

Research Funding:

Animal behaviour research may face constraints due to limited funding opportunities, impacting the ability to conduct comprehensive studies.

Navigating these challenges requires a combination of expertise, effective communication skills, emotional resilience, and a commitment to the well-being of animals. Continuous professional development and staying informed about industry trends can also contribute to overcoming challenges in the field of animal behaviour.

‚ÄčFuture growth and Possibilities

On average, the industry is expected to grow by around 5% annually, with jobs in established companies growing slightly slower than those who choose to start their own businesses.

Here are some insights into current trends and possibilities that may influence the future of the animal behaviourist industry:

Increased Focus on Animal Welfare:

Growing societal awareness and concern for animal welfare may lead to increased demand for professionals who specialise in understanding and improving the well-being of animals.

Expanding Roles in Conservation:

Animal behaviourists may find opportunities in conservation efforts, as understanding the behaviour of wildlife becomes crucial for effective conservation strategies and habitat preservation.

Technology Integration:

The integration of technology, such as sensors, cameras, and data analytics, into the study of animal behaviour can provide new insights and research methods, expanding the possibilities for professionals in the field.

Demand in Agriculture:

Animal behaviourists may be sought after in the agricultural sector to address animal welfare concerns, improve livestock management practices, and enhance productivity while ensuring ethical treatment of animals.

Companion Animal Services:

With the increasing human-animal bond and a growing pet industry, there may be a demand for animal behaviourists to address behaviour issues in companion animals and provide training and enrichment programmes for pets.

Education and Outreach Opportunities:

Animal behaviourists may play a vital role in education and outreach programmes, disseminating knowledge about responsible pet ownership, wildlife conservation, and the ethical treatment of animals.

Collaboration with Other Disciplines:

Collaborative efforts with veterinarians, ecologists, neuroscientists, and other professionals may lead to interdisciplinary research and initiatives, expanding the scope and impact of animal behaviour studies.

Legislation and Policy Development:

Increasing recognition of the importance of animal welfare may lead to the development of new legislation and policies, creating opportunities for animal behaviourists to contribute to regulatory frameworks.

Globalisation and International Opportunities:

Global collaboration and international research initiatives may open up opportunities for animal behaviourists to work on diverse projects and contribute to the understanding of animal behaviour on a global scale.

Evolving Job Titles and Specialisations:

The field of animal behaviour may see the emergence of new job titles and specialisations as the industry evolves, reflecting the increasing complexity of roles within the profession.

It’s important for individuals in the field of animal behavior to stay informed about industry trends, participate in continuing education, and adapt to the evolving needs of the job market.

Availability of Jobs


Which Skills are required by an Animal Behaviourist?

The skills required for a career as an animal behaviourist 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

  • ‚ÄčGood business knowledge
  • Good animal care skills
  • Basic customer service skills
  • Good health and physical fitness
  • Excellent computer literacy
Career Skills

Which Subjects must I have at School to 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 an Animal Behaviourist?

Minimum Requirements

Bachelor’s Degree:

Obtain a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field such as Animal Science, Biology, Psychology, Zoology, Ethology, or a related discipline. Many animal behaviourists hold degrees in biology or psychology with a focus on animal behaviour.

Relevant Coursework:

Ensure that your coursework includes subjects related to animal behaviour, ethology, psychology, biology, and ecology. These courses form the foundation of your understanding of animal behaviour.

Internship or Practical Experience:

Gain practical experience through internships, volunteer opportunities, or work placements in settings such as animal shelters, zoos, research labs, or with animal behaviour professionals.

Study Focus

Subjects for Further Study (if required):

Master’s Degree (Optional):

Pursue a master’s degree in animal behaviour, ethics, or a closely related field if you want to advance your knowledge and career prospects. This is often optional but can provide a competitive edge.

Specialised Subjects:

Focus on specialised subjects related to your specific area of interest within animal behaviour, such as wildlife behaviour, companion animal behaviour, or conservation behaviour.

Advanced Studies (if necessary):

Ph.D. in Animal Behaviour (Optional):

For those interested in research, teaching, or leadership roles, pursuing a Ph.D. in animal behaviour or a related field can open up advanced opportunities.

Doctoral Research:

Conduct original research as part of your doctoral studies, contributing to the existing knowledge base in animal behaviour.

Optional Short Courses:

Professional Development Workshops:

Attend workshops or short courses on specific aspects of animal behaviour, such as training techniques, enrichment strategies, or the use of technology in behavioural research.

Certification Courses:

Explore certification courses offered by reputable organisations such as the International Association of Animal Behaviour Consultants (IAABC) or other relevant certifying bodies.

Animal Training Courses:

Take courses on animal training and behaviour modification techniques, which can be particularly valuable for those working with companion animals.

Research Methods and Data Analysis:

Enhance your research skills by taking short courses in research methods, data analysis, and statistical tools commonly used in behavioural studies.

Study Duration

The duration of College and Bachelor’s Degrees can be up to 3 or 4 years. Short Courses are usually between a few weeks and a year.

Possible Career Preparation Paths

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

Why is planning important?

‚ÄčTo 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 suggested career preparation path for a high school student interested in pursuing a career as an animal behaviourist, based on the provided points:

1.  Attend Career Guidance Sessions:

Participate in career guidance sessions at school or community events to learn about various career options related to animal behaviour and sciences.

2.  Research Possible Careers:

Explore and research careers in animal behaviour, including roles such as animal behaviourist, ethologist, wildlife biologist, or veterinary behaviourist.

3.  Explore Educational Paths:

Research the educational paths needed for a career in animal behaviour, considering relevant degree programmes at universities or colleges.

4.  Align High School Subjects:

Choose high school subjects that align with the educational requirements for pursuing a degree in a related field. Focus on biology, psychology, and other science-related subjects.

5.  Obtain a High School Diploma or Equivalent:

Work towards obtaining a high school diploma or equivalent qualification, ensuring that your academic performance meets the requirements for college admission.

6.  Learn about Animals:

Gain knowledge about different species of animals, their behaviour, and their care. Consider volunteering at animal shelters or participating in local wildlife programmes.

7.  Align Post-School Path:

Consider whether you want to enter the job market directly after high school, pursue further studies at a college or university, or potentially start a business related to animal behaviour.

8.  Gain Experience:

Seek volunteer opportunities or internships at local animal shelters, zoos, or research labs to gain hands-on experience working with animals and observing their behaviour.

9.  Pursue Extracurricular Activities:

Engage in extracurricular activities related to animals or science, such as joining a biology club, participating in science fairs, or attending workshops on animal behaviour.

10. Join Professional Associations:

Explore and join relevant professional associations, even at the student level, to connect with professionals in the field and stay updated on industry trends.

11. Gain specialised Skills:

Consider taking additional courses or workshops to gain specialised skills, such as animal training techniques, research methods, or behaviour modification strategies.

12. Network with Professionals:

Attend industry events, conferences, or workshops to network with professionals, professors, and researchers in the field of animal behaviour.

13. Enter the Job Market or Further Studies:

Decide whether to enter the job market after obtaining a relevant degree or pursue further studies (such as a master’s or Ph.D.) for advanced career opportunities.

14. Stay Updated and Pursue Continuing Education:

Stay informed about the latest developments in animal behaviour science by reading journals, attending conferences, and pursuing continuing education courses.

Remember that this path is flexible, and individuals may explore different options along the way. Seeking guidance from teachers, career counsellors, and professionals in the field can provide valuable insights and support throughout the journey.

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):

Stepping stone Career

A stepping-stone career refers to a job or position that serves as a transitional or intermediate step towards a long-term career goal. Individuals may take on a stepping-stone job as it requires minimum education or finances to enter, or to gain relevant experience and develop skills, or to make professional connections that will ultimately help them progress towards their desired career path.

These interim positions may not be the ultimate or dream job, but they provide valuable learning opportunities and contribute to the individual’s overall career development. Stepping-stone careers are often seen as a strategic approach to building a successful and fulfilling professional trajectory, allowing individuals to gradually move closer to their desired roles or industries.

A background in animal behaviour can provide individuals with a versatile skill set and knowledge base that can be applied to various careers. If someone starts their career as an animal behaviourist and later decides to transition or pivot, here are some alternative career paths they may consider:

Training and apprenticeship

On-the-job training and apprenticeship opportunities can be valuable for individuals entering a career as an animal behaviourist. These experiences provide practical, hands-on learning and help individuals develop the skills needed for working with animals in various settings. Here are some considerations for on-the-job training and apprenticeship requirements:


Many animal behaviourists start their careers by completing internships. Internships allow individuals to gain practical experience in settings such as zoos, research labs, animal shelters, or rehabilitation centres.

Volunteer Work:

Volunteering at animal-related organisations, such as animal shelters, can provide valuable exposure to working with animals. It allows individuals to observe and understand animal behaviour while assisting in the care and enrichment of animals.

Assistant Positions:

Securing entry-level assistant positions in animal-related fields can be an effective way to gain on-the-job training. These roles may involve supporting more experienced animal behaviourists in their work.

Training Programmes:

Some organizations offer formal training programs or apprenticeships specifically designed to prepare individuals for a career in animal behaviour. These programs may include a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on experience.

Shadowing Opportunities:

Shadowing experienced animal behaviourists provides individuals with the opportunity to observe professionals in action, understand their methodologies, and gain insights into the day-to-day responsibilities of the job.

Graduate Assistantships:

Individuals pursuing advanced degrees in animal behaviour, ethology, or a related field may have the opportunity to work as graduate assistants. This role often involves assisting with research projects, teaching, or other responsibilities under the guidance of faculty members.

Networking and Mentoring:

Establishing connections with experienced animal behaviourists and seeking mentorship can be a valuable form of on-the-job training. Mentors can provide guidance, share insights, and offer support as individuals develop their skills.

Continuing Education Workshops:

Participating in workshops or short courses focused on specific aspects of animal behaviour, training, or research can complement formal education and provide practical skills.

Certification Programs:

Completing certification programs offered by professional organizations, such as the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC), can enhance skills and credibility in the field.

Specialized Training Facilities:

Some organizations or facilities dedicated to animal training and behaviour offer structured training programs or apprenticeships to individuals interested in pursuing a career in the field.

When seeking on-the-job training or apprenticeships, it’s essential to demonstrate a genuine interest in animal behaviour, a strong work ethic, and a willingness to learn. Additionally, obtaining relevant certifications or completing educational programs can strengthen one’s qualifications for on-the-job training opportunities. Each opportunity may have specific requirements, so individuals should actively seek out and apply to programs that align with their career goals.

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

The specific requirements for licences, certificates, and legal registration to become an animal behaviourist can vary by location, country, and the specific type of work you intend to pursue. Licencing and certification may not be universally required, but they can enhance your credibility and demonstrate your expertise in the field. Here are some general considerations:

Educational Requirements:

Many animal behaviourists begin by obtaining a relevant bachelor’s degree in fields such as Animal Science, Biology, Psychology, Zoology, or Ethology. Advanced degrees (master’s or Ph.D.) can further enhance your qualifications.
Certification from

Professional Organisations:

Consider obtaining certification from reputable professional organisations, such as the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) or the Animal Behavior Society. Certification may involve meeting specific education and experience requirements and passing an examination.

Licence or Registration:

Depending on your location and the nature of your work, you may need to check if there are specific licencing or registration requirements for animal behaviourists. Some regions may require licencing for those practicing as consultants or offering behaviour modification services.

Animal Training Certification:

If you specialise in animal training, there are organisations that offer certifications for professional trainers. For example, the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) provides certification for dog trainers.

Ethical Standards and Codes of Conduct:

Adhering to ethical standards and codes of conduct set by professional organizations can be important for establishing trust with clients and ensuring the well-being of animals.

Business Licensing:

If you plan to operate your own consulting or training business, you may need to obtain the necessary business licenses and permits as required by local or state regulations.


Consider obtaining liability insurance to protect yourself in case of any legal issues or claims related to your work.

Continuing Education Requirements:

Some certifying bodies may require ongoing professional development to maintain certification. Staying informed about the latest research and advancements in animal behaviour is essential.

Compliance with Animal Welfare Laws:

Be aware of and comply with local and national animal welfare laws and regulations. This is particularly important when working with animals in different settings.

Documentation and Record-Keeping:

Maintain thorough documentation of your consultations, assessments, and interventions. This can be important for legal and ethical reasons and may be required by certain certification bodies.

It’s crucial to research the specific requirements in your region and within the specific niche of animal behaviour you plan to pursue. Contacting local regulatory agencies and professional organisations and seeking guidance from experienced professionals in the field can provide clarity on the necessary steps to establish a legal and reputable career as an animal behaviourist.

Professional Associations

International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC):

Website: IAABC

Description: IAABC provides resources, education, and certification for animal behaviour consultants. It covers a range of species and offers certifications for professionals working with dogs, cats, horses, and other animals.

Animal Behavior Society (ABS):

Website: Animal Behavior Society

Description: ABS is an international organisation that promotes the scientific study of animal behaviour. It includes researchers, educators, and practitioners interested in advancing the understanding of animal behaviour.

International Society for Applied Ethology (ISAE):

Website: ISAE

Description: ISAE is a professional organisation that focuses on the study and application of animal behaviour and welfare. It brings together professionals from various disciplines, including ethology, psychology, and veterinary science.

Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT):

Website: APDT

Description: APDT is an organisation for professional dog trainers that provides education, resources, and networking opportunities. While not exclusive to animal behaviourists, it may be relevant for those specialising in dog behaviour.

American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB):

Website: AVSAB

Description: AVSAB is an organisation dedicated to advancing the field of veterinary behaviour. It includes veterinarians, animal behaviourists, and other professionals working to promote understanding and treatment of behaviour issues in animals.

European Society for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ESSAB):

Website: ESSAB

Description: ESSAB is a European organisation that promotes the scientific study of animal behaviour. It provides a platform for researchers and professionals to share knowledge and collaborate.

International Society for Comparative Psychology (ISCP):

Website: ISCP

Description: ISCP is an international organisation that focuses on the comparative study of behaviour, including both human and non-human animals. While not exclusively for animal behaviourists, it may be of interest to those studying animal behaviour in a comparative context.

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 animal behaviour.

How do I start to prepare for this Career?

If you do decide on following this career, then OZT can assist you in gaining knowledge about the career and the animals you will be working with. We do this by offering you thousands of FREE short courses.

A. You can access the specialised study guide that fits in with the above preparation path

B.  If you are still uncertain about choosing this career, then have a look at our special series of WHAT NEXT courses. They take you through all of the questions you might have on how to choose the right career, what to do while and after school, and even how to start your own business.

C.  Or, join OZT as a member to access easy-to-use lists of courses to make your career preparation as smooth as possible! And yes, membership is always free.

Join the OZT online community for special access to more tools!

Join us as a special member and learn more about becoming an animal behaviourist.

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!
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Some of the best websites to help you decide on a career are:

Animal Behavior Society (ABS):

  • Website: Animal Behavior Society
  • Description: ABS is an international organization dedicated to promoting the scientific study of animal behavior. The website provides information about conferences, publications, and resources related to animal behavior research and careers.

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