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What is an Animal Scientist?

An Animal Scientist is a specialized type of Scientist. Also known as: Animal Science Researcher, Animal Research Scientist.

An animal scientist works to ensure agricultural productivity and food safety. Most animal scientists work in research universities, private industry, or for the federal government. They work in offices, laboratories, and/or the field. Those working in processing plants may sometimes work in unpleasant conditions. Many need at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited postsecondary institution, although many get a doctoral degree.

How to Become an Animal Scientist

What does an Animal Scientist do?

An animal scientist will typically do the following:

  • Conduct research and experiments concerning animal nutrition
  • Develop ways to improve the quantity and quality of farm animals
  • Communicate research findings to the scientific community, food producers, and the public

An animal scientist plays an important role in maintaining the nation’s food supply. Many work in basic or applied research and development. Basic research seeks to understand the biological and chemical processes by which livestock grow. Applied research uses this knowledge to discover ways to improve the quality, quantity, and safety of agricultural products.

Many animal scientists work with little supervision, forming their own hypotheses and developing research methods accordingly. In addition, they often lead teams of technicians or students who help in their research.

Animal scientists often conduct research on domestic farm animals. With a focus on food production, they explore animal genetics, nutrition, reproduction, diseases, growth, and development. They work to develop efficient ways to produce and process meat, poultry, eggs, and milk. Animal scientists may crossbreed animals to get new combinations of desirable characteristics. They advise farmers on how to upgrade housing for animals, lower animal death rates, handle waste matter, and increase production.

An animal scientist in private industries often work for food production companies, farms, and processing plants. They typically work to improve inspection standards or overall food quality. They often spend their time in a laboratory, where they do tests and experiments, or in the field, where they take samples or assess overall conditions. Other animal and food scientists work for pharmaceutical companies, where they use biotechnology processes to develop drugs or other medical products.

In the federal government, an animal scientist will conduct research on animal safety and methods of improving food production. They spend most of their time conducting clinical trials or developing experiments on animal subjects. They eventually present their findings in peer-reviewed journals or other publications.

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How to become an Animal Scientist

Animal scientists need at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited post secondary institution, although many obtain a doctoral degree. Some earn a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine (DVM). Most animal scientists earn a Ph.D.

Students typically gain a strong foundation in their field, with an emphasis on teamwork, internships, and research opportunities. In addition to science coursework, undergraduates sometimes take humanities courses, which help them develop good communication skills.

Some people with bachelor's degrees in animal sciences find work in related fields rather than becoming an animal scientist. For example, a bachelor's degree in animal science is useful for managerial jobs in farm-related or ranch-related businesses, such as farming, ranching, agricultural inspection, farm credit institutions, or companies that make or sell feed, fertilizer, seed, and farm equipment.

Graduate study further develops an animal scientist’s knowledge. It typically takes students six years to complete a Ph.D. During graduate school, there is additional emphasis on lab work and original research, where prospective animal scientists have the opportunity to do experiments and sometimes supervise undergraduates.

Advanced research topics include genetics, animal reproduction, and biotechnology, among others. Advanced coursework also emphasizes statistical analysis and experiment design, which are important as Ph.D. candidates begin their research.

Like candidates for a Ph.D. in animal science, a prospective Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine candidate must first have a bachelor’s degree before getting into veterinary school.

What is the workplace of an Animal Scientist like?

An animal scientist will work in research universities, private industries, or the federal government. Their work takes place in offices, laboratories, and in the field. They spend most of their time studying data and reports in a laboratory or office. Field work includes visits to farms or processing plants. When visiting an animal production facility, they must follow bio-security measures, wear suitable clothing, and tolerate animal waste and odour.



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Further Reading

  • What Is Animal Science? www.wisegeek.com

    In general, animal science deals with the study of non-human animals. More specifically, the discipline emphasizes domestic animals, or animals that are controlled and cared for to some degree by humans.

  • What Does an Animal Scientist Do? www.wisegeek.org

    In a broad sense, an animal scientist is a biologist who studies characteristics of animals, including behavior, development, genetics, and evolutionary history. Someone in this position is usually a researcher who focuses on understanding farm animals and their roles in agricultural production.

  • Animal Scientist animalcareers.about.com

    Animal scientists study a variety of domestic animal species. They may focus their interest on specific areas such as reproduction, nutrition, genetics, or development.

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Become an Animal Scientist