Careers in Animal Sciences

Animal science is described as "studying the biology of animals that are under the control of mankind". Historically, the degree was called animal husbandry and the animals studied were livestock species, like cattle, sheep, pigs, poultry, and horses. Today, courses available now look at a far broader area to include companion animals like dogs and cats, and many exotic species. Degrees in Animal Science are offered at a number of colleges and universities.

Career Possibilities

Animal Behaviorist

As researchers, Animal Behaviorists must understand how to develop and conduct experiments that lead to good scientific results and evidence. The end result of the studies is to provide conclusions that help people properly raise and care for animals. Animal Behaviorists must love animals and understand how and why they behave the way they do. They also must understand what problems exist and what possible changes could be made to improve how animals are raised and cared. 

Source: National FFA

Animal Nutritionist 

An Animal Nutritionist's goal is to make animals grow faster and more efficiently through proper nutrition. They find types and amounts of feeds that affect growth or other traits in animals. Animal nutritionists also test feeds and feeding methods to learn what nourishes livestock efficiently and economically. Another area of study for the animal nutritionist is how to minimize waste for environmental consideration. Animal nutritionists must have a thorough understanding of science and biochemistry. They must know how animals grow and utilize different nutritional components. The nutritionist must be able to experiment and draw conclusions from the findings. They must also be able to design and carryout feeding trials with large groups of animals to determine the effectiveness of feeds and feeding programs. 

Source: National FFA

Animal Scientist

Animal scientists work to develop better, more efficient ways of producing and processing meat, poultry, eggs, and milk. Dairy scientists, poultry scientists, animal breeders, and other scientists in related fields study the genetics, nutrition, reproduction, and growth of domestic farm animals. Some animal scientists inspect and grade livestock food products, purchase livestock, or work in technical sales or marketing. As extension agents or consultants, animal scientists advise agricultural producers on how to upgrade animal housing facilities properly, lower mortality rates, handle waste matter, or increase production of animal products, such as milk or eggs.

Source: Occupational Outlook Handbook

Animal Trainer

Animal trainers train animals for riding, security, performance, obedience, or assisting people with disabilities. Animal trainers do this by accustoming the animal to human voice and contact and conditioning the animal to respond to commands. The three most commonly trained animals are dogs, horses, and marine mammals, including dolphins. Trainers use several techniques to help them train animals. A relatively new form of training teaches animals to cooperate with workers giving medical care. Animals learn "veterinary" behaviors, such as allowing and even cooperating with the collection of blood samples; physical, x-ray, ultrasonic, and dental exams; physical therapy; and the administration of medicines and replacement fluids. 

Source: Occupational Outlook Handbook


Biotechnicians do routine lab and clinical tasks, record information and assist in procedures. They are employed by research institutes and pharmaceutical companies that conduct research. In general, Biotechnicians work in research, development and testing. They are concerned with the laboratory work that goes on during the development and the manufacture of products. They help create new products and find new ways to introduce biotechnology from different starting materials. Biotechnicians serve in a supportive role to biotechnologist. Their job is to conduct tests and to gather data on questions such as the content, structure, strength, stability, purity and other characteristics of a broad range of materials. They may plan or conduct tests on thousands of consumer products such as foods, drugs, paper, paints or fuel. In their work, biotechnicians not only collect data but also interpret it.

Source: National FFA

Biotechnology Regulatory Affairs Specialist 

The Biotechnology Regulatory Affairs Specialist compiles all material required for submissions, license renewals and annual registrations. An incumbent monitors, improves tracking and control systems and keeps abreast of regulatory procedures and changes. The specialist may work with regulatory agencies and recommend strategies for earliest possible approvals of clinical trial applications. 

Source: National FFA


Embryologists study the fertilized egg of an animal in any stage of growth before birth or hatching. They observe the way reproductive cells merge to make an embryo grow, and they compare the embryonic development of different species and the physical and biochemical agents that affect embryo growth. They also study the causes of abnormal embryo growth and development. 


Molecular geneticists conduct research on genes and gene mapping. Mapping a gene is usually the first step in isolating it, determining its structure in detail, and figuring out how it works. The international scientific community is currently engaged in an effort to learn the location of every one of the 50-100,000 human genes, and then determine the DNA sequence of the entire human genome. Similar projects are being conducted for corn, rice, hogs and many other plants and animals. Population Geneticists are concerned with the dynamics of inheritance within whole populations of organisms. They seek to explain the origin and nature of natural variation and the relationship of such variants to their environment.  The activities of Population Geneticists range from field biology through intensive laboratory investigation, to mathematical model-building and computer simulation.  

Source: National FFA

Humane Educator

Humane Educators teach and promote humane attitudes toward people, animals and the environment. This includes, but is not limited to, anyone who teaches animal welfare, animal behavior, environmental concerns, character education, cultural studies and others. Humane Educators may work for a variety of private and public agencies or independently and teach in formal, informal,and non-formal settings 


Lawyers, also called attorneys, act as both advocates and advisors in our society. As advocates, they represent one of the parties in criminal and civil trials by presenting evidence and arguing in court to support their client. As advisors, lawyers counsel their clients about their legal rights and obligations and suggest particular courses of action in business and personal matters. Whether acting as an advocate or an advisor, all attorneys research the intent of laws and judicial decisions and apply the law to the specific circumstances faced by their clients. Lawyers may specialize in a number of areas, such as probate, international, agricultural, or environmental law. Those specializing in environmental law, for example, may represent interest groups, waste disposal companies, or construction firms in their dealings with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other Federal and State agencies. These lawyers help clients prepare and file for licenses and applications for approval before certain activities may occur. Some lawyers specialize in the growing field of intellectual property, helping to protect clients' claims to copyrights, biotechnology, product designs, and other discoveries. 

Source: Occupational Outlook Handbook

Marine Biologist

Marine Biologists investigate salinity, temperature, acidity, light, oxygen content, and other physical conditions of water to determine their relationship to aquatic life. They examine various types of water life, such as plankton, worms, clams, mussels, and snails, specializing in the study of salt water aquatic life (the study of fresh water aquatic life is designated as a limnologist). Marine biologists may be responsible for the cultivation and breeding, such as shrimp, lobsters, clams, oysters, or fish. Those who are involved in commercial fish farm operations may be designated as aquaculturists. 

Source: National FFA

Meat Scientist 

Meat scientists usually work in the meat processing industry, universities, or the Federal Government to create and improve food products. They use their knowledge of chemistry, physics, engineering, microbiology, biotechnology, and other sciences to develop new or better ways of preserving, processing, packaging, storing, and delivering meat and other food products derived from meat. Some meat scientists engage in basic research while others engage in applied research, finding ways to improve produection efficieny, meat quality, and consumer satisfaction.  They also develop ways to process, preserve, package, or store meat according to industry and government regulations. 

Source: Occupational Outlook Handbook

Molecular Biologist

Molecular Biologists work with genetic materials and biological agents or systems to modify or create new products or processes for specific uses in the fields of medicine, agriculture, food and beverage processing, specialty chemicals, and environmental science. Through molecular manipulation or engineering, biotechnologists can alter the genes and change the makeup or behavior of organisms. The biologists can then turn these altered organisms into industrial or technical products for use as fuel, medicine, or food. About one-third of the researchers in biotechnology are molecular biologists and immunologists. Most molecular biologists focus on animal and bacterial systems because this research is related to human health.

Source: National FFA


Registered nurses (RNs), regardless of specialty or work setting, treat patients, educate patients and the public about various medical conditions, and provide advice and emotional support to patients' family members. RNs record patients' medical histories and symptoms, help perform diagnostic tests and analyze results, operate medical machinery, administer treatment and medications, and help with patient follow-up and rehabilitation.

Source: Occupational Outlook Handbook


Pharmacists distribute prescription drugs to individuals. They also advise their patients, as well as physicians and other health practitioners, on the selection, dosages, interactions, and side effects of medications. Pharmacists monitor the health and progress of patients to ensure the safe and effective use of medication. Compounding-the actual mixing of ingredients to form medications-is a small part of a pharmacist's practice, because most medicines are produced by pharmaceutical companies in a standard dosage and drug delivery form. Most pharmacists work in a community setting, such as a retail drugstore, or in a health care facility, such as a hospital, nursing home, mental health institution, or neighborhood health clinic. 

Source: Occupational Outlook Handbook


There are two types of physicians: M.D.-Doctor of Medicine-and D.O.-Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. M.D.s also are known as allopathic physicians. While both M.D.s and D.O.s may use all accepted methods of treatment, including drugs and surgery, D.O.s place special emphasis on the body's musculoskeletal system, preventive medicine, and holistic patient care. D.O.s are most likely to be primary care specialists although they can be found in all specialties. About half of D.O.s practice general or family medicine, general internal medicine, or general pediatrics.  Physicians work in one or more of several specialties, including, but not limited to, anesthesiology, family and general medicine, general internal medicine, general pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, psychiatry, and surgery.

Source: Occupational Outlook Handbook

Quality Assurance Specialist

Quality Assurance Specialists enforce a wide range of laws, regulations, policies, or procedures. They administer, support, and develop food safety and quality assurance programs.  They ensure standards for the production of manufactured and packaged products are met. Production data and customer/consumer feedback are used to improve product quality and customer satisfaction.  QA Specialists work with process improvement teams and research and development teams ensuring that product/project start-ups are consistent and compliant at launch. They also conduct audits for adherence to company quality and food safety programs and production specifications.

Source: Occupational Outlook Handbook

Regulatory Affairs Specialist

A Regulatory Affairs Specialist works within regulated industries, such as food, agricultural, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, health care, energy, and banking. Regulatory Affairs professionals usually have responsibility for Ensuring that their companies comply with all of the regulations and laws pertaining to their business. They work with federal, state, and local regulatory agencies and personnel on specific issues affecting their business, such as the Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, or Department of Homeland Security.  They advise their companies on the regulatory aspects and climate that would affect business activities. 

Science / Technical Writer 

Science/Technical Writers present information and instructions in clear, understandable language for non-technical readers. They research, write, design, edit, and prepare publications in wide-ranging fields. The publications may be technical reports, instruction manuals, newsletters, articles, papers, proposals, brochures, and booklets. These writers explain and illustrate complex procedures in simple terms people can understand. They may be responsible for supplying illustrations such as schematics, pictures, charts, tables, or graphs to go with the write-up. They may create these illustrations themselves, or they may work with photographers, technical illustrators, drafters, and publishers. Technical writers employed by one company or organization may prepare pamphlets or booklets on job procedures, worker benefits, and company rules.

Source: National FFA


Veterinarians care for pets, livestock, sporting, and laboratory animals. They protect humans against diseases carried by animals. Veterinarians in private practice diagnose and treat medical problems, perform surgery, prescribe and administer medicines, vaccinate animals against diseases, and perform other tasks related to animal health and welfare. They also advise owners on animal care, behavior, nutrition and breeding. Some have a general practice, treating all kinds of animals while others only treat small companion animals such as dogs, cats and birds.  Some veterinarians choose to specialize in fish, aquatic animals, zoo animals, laboratory animals or poultry. Veterinarians contribute to human as well as animal health. A number of veterinarians engage in research, food safety inspection or education. Some work with physicians and scientists on research to prevent and treat diseases in humans. Veterinarians may also work in regulatory medicine or public health as livestock inspectors. 

Source: National FFA

Veterinarian Technician

Veterinary technicians typically conduct clinical work in a private practice under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. They often perform various medical tests and treat and diagnose medical conditions and diseases in animals. For example, they may perform laboratory tests such as urinalysis and blood counts, assist with dental prophylaxis, prepare tissue samples, take blood samples, or assist Veterinarians in a variety of tests and analyses in which they often use various items of medical equipment, such as test tubes and diagnostic equipment. While most of these duties are performed in a laboratory setting, many are not. For example, some veterinary technicians obtain and record patients' case histories, expose and develop x rays and radiographs, and provide specialized nursing care. In addition, experienced veterinary technicians may discuss a pet's condition with its owners and train new clinic personnel. Veterinary technicians assisting small-animal practitioners usually care for companion animals, such as cats and dogs, but can perform a variety of duties with mice, rats, sheep, pigs, cattle, monkeys, birds, fish, and frogs. Very few veterinary technologists work in mixed animal practices where they care for both small companion animals and larger, nondomestic animals. 




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