Ornithologist Career Summary

How do I become a Ornithologist?

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 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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UPDATED: 4 May 2022

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What is an Ornithologist?

An Ornithologist is a scientist who studies and works specifically with the different types or birds, comprising domesticated animals (pets and farm birds, such as chickens) and wildlife (including marine or sea birds).

Specialist Career

Zoology is the study of animals.

Ornithologist is a main career on this platform as it is a specialized career with a specific career path to follow.

Ornithologists can specialize in the study of specific species, or in specific characteristics of birds. For example, Oology is a sub-branch of ornithology studying bird eggs, nests and breeding behaviour.

What does an Ornithologist do?

With which Groups of animals does an Ornithologist work with?

Birds List Icon OZT
Birds

Career Categories

The Mammologist career can be found within the following OZT career categories:​

  • Business
  • Marine Conservation
  • Wildlife Conservation
  • Scientific Specialists
  • Zoos, Aquariums, Museums, Theme Parks

What does an Ornithologist focus on?

An Ornithologist focusses on the scientific study of all of the birds to promote the knowledge on each species.

There are a few interesting and important topics focused on:

  • Taxonomy and genetics
  • Morphology and physiology
  • Behaviour of birds
  • Ecological impact of birds

What are the daily tasks of an Ornithologist?

  • Research species
  • Plan and travel to study area
  • Collect species for analysis
  • Collect data and take photographs
  • Keep proper record of species
  • Attend seminars
  • Write reports
  • Administration and filing

The working environment of an Ornithologist

Where does an Ornithologist work?

Environment –

Ornithologists spend the majority of their time working outdoors. The environment can range from forests to tropical islands.

Doing tests and writing reports can be done indoors.

Places of Employment –

In most cases an Ornithologist is employed by a research institution, universities, government or zoos, museums and theme parks. They may also be self employed.

What is the average annual salary of an Ornithologist?

The average salary of a permanent Ornithologist is around US$60,000 per year. The salary will depend on the country and level of the employer.

Private or self employed Ornithologist can earn a similar or higher income, depending on contracts. 

Can an Ornithologist be promoted?

Depending on the institution they are employed at, there could be good promotional opportunities.

Basic promotion levels:

Intern > Junior Ornithologist > Senior Ornithologist > Head of Department

What are the difficulties an Ornithologist may face?

The most difficult part of this career is being able to work with animals that can be dangerous.

They may also be required to work irregular hours including evenings, weekends, and holidays and in difficult weather.

Future Growth and Career Outlook

The current annual growth for all zoology related careers is around 5%.

Availability of Jobs

Average

Which Skills are required for an Ornithologist?

The skills required for a career as an Ornithologist 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
40%

Career Skills

  • Animal handling
  • Animal care techniques
  • Customer service skills
  • Good health and physical fitness
  • Basic computer literacy
Career Skills
60%

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 Ornithologist?

Minimum educational requirements

Generally, an Ornithologist must have at least a minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree for an entry level job.

More scientific jobs will require a minimum of a Masters Degree.

Study Focus

Major –

Most Ornithologists start off with an undergraduate degree in Zoology, with majors in subjects such as biology, animal behavior, animal science, or zoology.

They specialize in Ornithology towards the end of the degree, as well as in Masters studies.

Short Courses –

Much of the practical things you will do need to be learned through the completion of short course, such as capturing and handling animals, and using research tools, such as camera traps.

Study Duration

The duration of Bachelor’s Degrees are between 3 and 4 years. Masters can take another 2 to 3 years. short courses differ, but can range from a few days to a few weeks.

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?

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 your road map to where you want to go.

Possible Path(s):

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 Alternative(s):

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 will be acquired through on-the-job training. 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.

In some cases entry level positions (or junior zoologists) require training sessions even before you are allowed to actually perform your job duties. These sessions are offered by the place of employment, after you have successfully applied.

Apprenticeship is also possible where you need to learn skills from a more senior person or expert. The more hands on careers, such as Ornithologist,  might require apprenticeship.

Join the Ornithologists Group to learn more and even interact with the educational institutions that will help you secure your dream career!

Average level of education of those entering this career

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

Licenses, Certificates, Registration and Professional Organizations

Certain animal care 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.

Professional Organizations

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.

Do you have information that you would like to contribute to this course? Please click on the red beetle to access the contribution form.

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Join our OZT Community and the Ornithologist Group

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

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 an Ornithologist, please click on the JOIN GROUP button. Members will be directed to the Group, and 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 to start a new search and learn about a different career.

  • Group logo of Ornithologists

    Ornithologists

    Public Group / 1 member

    active 2 months ago

    The Group was created to bring together all those interested in learning more about the career while having access to free resources, short courses, expert advice as well as the option to interact with other students from around […]

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