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Animal Scientists

At a Glance

  • Most study pigs, cows, and chickens
  • Use computer software
  • Work in labs or offices
  • Have at least a bachelor's degree

Career summary

Animal scientists conduct research. They try to develop better animal products and healthier animals.

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Animal scientists study animals. Most of their work concerns livestock, such as pigs, cows, and chickens. Some study domestic animals, such as cats and dogs.

Animal scientists may study:

Regardless of the topic they study, animal scientists have many tasks in common. They read articles and attend conferences to learn more about their research area. They determine research questions and design experiments to study those questions. Depending on the type of animal they study, scientists conduct experiments in a lab or at a farm. They may work with the animals themselves, or have research assistants do much of the work for them. If they have assistants, scientists train them to conduct the research and keep records.

Animal diets

Some animal scientists study animals' diets. They try to find the best mix of foods to raise healthy animals. They also try to determine the nutritional needs of animals. Some animals need more vitamins, minerals, or protein than others. This affects the type of food they need. Animal scientists may develop special foods for animals, or just suggest what animals should be fed.

Animal production

Animal scientists also study topics such as breeding, genetics, production and management, and environmental conditions. They may also try to introduce new characteristics into animals. For example, they may breed chickens that lay more eggs. Animal scientists also try to reduce the cost of raising animals and processing animal products.

Animal management practices

Animal scientists often advise animal producers. They study management decisions, including how animals are fed, housed, and processed, to see how these practices affect production levels. They recommend ways to improve disease control in animals and the quality of animal products.

Related careers

This career is part of the Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Military careers

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to animal scientists.

Common work activities

Animal scientists perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, animal scientists:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Animal scientists frequently:

It is important for animal scientists to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for animal scientists to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Animal scientists need to:


Reason and problem solve

Use math and science

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with people

Perceive and visualize

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as an animal scientist, you typically need to:

Education after high school

You need a bachelor's degree in animal or agriculture science if you want to work in research. This is the minimum requirement for entry-level or assistant positions. In animal science programs, you study economics, business, and physical and life sciences. You also study animal breeding, reproductive physiology, and nutrition.

A doctoral degree (PhD) is required to lead research projects or teach at a college or university. To complete an advanced degree, you take more courses, do fieldwork, and conduct laboratory research.

All states have land-grant colleges that offer animal science degrees. Most schools offer bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in this field. All degree levels offer students opportunities to specialize in areas such as genetics, nutrition, poultry, or livestock.

Work experience

Work experience as an animal caretaker is helpful. Similarly, volunteering at an animal hospital or clinic is also valuable.

On-the-job training

Because most jobs in this field are research-based, on-the-job training is limited. New employees may be oriented to the lab and the company's policies. Orientation may last up to a month.

Helpful high school courses

In high school, take classes that prepare you for college. A college preparatory curriculum (external link) may be different from your state's graduation requirements (external link). Animal scientists need a strong background in math and science. Take as many classes in these areas as you can.

You should also consider taking some advanced courses in high school. This includes Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses if they are available in your school. If you do well in these courses, you may receive college credit for them. Advanced courses can also strengthen your college application.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups (PDF file) that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

A bachelor's degree is the minimum requirement for entry-level or assistant positions. A degree in animal or food science, biology, or chemistry is often preferred. Applicants may be required to pass a civil service exam for government jobs. Many employers, especially in research, prefer to hire applicants with a PhD or at least a master's degree. Universities choose candidates based on their area of research and the quality of their published articles.

Many employers look for applicants who have computer experience. They prefer to hire animal scientists who can apply computer skills to research tasks and operation of lab equipment. Employers in research and development often look for applicants who can work well as part of a team. They look for applicants with leadership skills and good oral and written skills.

Costs to workers

Workers may have to pay for association dues, travel, reference books and journals, and seminars or college classes to keep up with changes in the field.

Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


Animal scientists (SOC 19-1011)

Pay Period
Washington Wages for this occupation are not available.
United States Hourly $17.44 $21.80 $28.07 $37.61 $54.53
Monthly $3,022 $3,778 $4,865 $6,518 $9,450
Yearly $36,270 $45,350 $58,380 $78,230 $113,430

Wages vary by employer and area of the country. The scientist's level of education and experience also affect wages. In general, animal scientists who have a doctoral degree (PhD) and postgraduate training earn higher wages.

Animal scientists who work full time usually receive benefits. Typical benefits include sick leave, paid vacation, and health insurance. Some employers also provide a retirement plan. 

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook


The table below provides information about the number of workers in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Animal Scientists (SOC 19-1011)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 11 18.2% 16.1% 1
United States 2,700 3.7% 5.2% 300

National employment

Major employers:

National outlook

Job prospects are good for animal scientists due to ongoing animal research. Farmers and food production companies spend a lot of money on breeding, raising, and feeding animals. They are interested in inproving the diets, living conditions, and genetic makeup of livestock. 

Job openings will occur as current animal scientists retire or leave this occupation. Opportunities will be best for those who have an advanced degree.

Other resources

AgCareers.com (external link)
Western USA Office
American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (external link)
9190 Crestwyn Hills Drive
Memphis, TN 38125
American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture (external link)
600 Maryland Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20024
American Institute of Biological Sciences (external link)
1800 Alexander Bell Drive, Suite 400
Reston, VA 20191
American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists (external link)
1800 South Oak Street, Suite 100
Champaign, IL 61820
American Society of Animal Science (external link)
PO Box 7410
Champaign, IL 61826-7410
American Veterinary Medical Association (external link)
1931 North Meacham Road, Suite 100
Schaumburg, IL 60173
Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (external link)
4420 West Lincoln Way
Ames, IA 50014
National Academy of Sciences Interviews (external link)
North American Meat Institute (external link)
1150 Connecticut Avenue NW, 12th Floor
Washington, DC 20036
Science Careers (external link)
Technology Student Association (external link)
1904 Association Drive
Reston, VA 20191-1540
The American Physiological Society (external link)
9650 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20814
Washington Business Week (external link)
PO Box 1170
Renton, WA 98057
Washington State Science & Engineering Fair (external link)


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupation

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupations

Holland occupational cluster