What is animal science?

Animal science is the study of animals that live alongside humans. Around the world, humans rely on animals for food, fiber, labor and companionship. Animal scientists help us understand and manage these animals.

What do animal scientists do?

  • Animal scientists work with farm animals, wildlife, laboratory animals, pets and zoo animals. They study these animals to help keep them healthy and productive.
  • Animal scientists help put food on our tables. Animal scientists work with farmers to improve animal breeding, growth and nutrition. When animals grow well and stay healthy, farmers can produce more meat, milk or eggs for our consumption. Animal scientists also work with farmers to decrease the environmental impact of animal agriculture.
  • Animal scientists study animal products after harvest. They check meat quality or screen milk for pathogens. Advances in food safety increase the world’s supply of nutritious food.
  • Animal scientists also keep us clothed. In cold climates, people rely on wool to stay warm. Animal scientists work to keep animals like sheep and alpacas healthy.
  • Animal scientists study animals to ensure safe and effective use for labor and recreation.
  • Animal scientists protect human health. It is important for scientists to study how diseases spread between humans and animals. Animal scientists can also use animals as models for humans. Studying fetal development in sheep, for example, can help us understand fetal development in humans.
  • Animal scientists also keep our pets healthy. They tackle issues like pet obesity and breeding. And zoos rely on animal scientists to establish breeding programs, nutrition programs and help preserve exotic wildlife.

How can I become an animal scientist?

It’s never too early to plan to become an animal scientist. You will need a passion for working with animals, a passion for science and a willingness to work hard in school!

After high school, you will need to earn a university bachelor’s degree. Many people decide to major in animal science in college, but that is not the only option. Future animal scientists can major in nutrition, biology, microbiology, health sciences, food science, public health, or even genetics.

It usually takes four years to earn an undergraduate degree in animal science.

Many animal scientists continue their education by getting their master’s degree. A master’s degree would help you become even more qualified to work as an animal scientist. Master’s students also get to focus on a specific research project. A master’s degree usually takes around two years. After earning a master’s degree, some students stay and earn a PhD. Earning a PhD after a master’s degree takes an additional three years.

Tips for success:

  • Remember it is as important to love science as it is to love animals.
  • Try to get experience working with animals before you start college.
  • Many animal scientists study the products that come from animals. You could also learn a lot by working at a grocery store meat counter or at a farm in your area.

For more information on animal science or careers in animal science visit animalsmart.org