Job description

Animal scientists conduct research on farm animals in order to improve the quality, safety and efficiency of food production. They study animal nutrition, genetics, reproduction, growth, development and diseases. Experiments with crossbreeding, diet and environment help animal scientists discover better methods of producing meat, poultry, eggs and milk. They share their data and findings with farmers, ranchers, the scientific community and the public.

Duties

    • Determine the genetic makeup of animal populations and heritability of desirable traits
    • Research, evaluate and control animal selection and breeding to improve animal quality
    • Crossbreed animals to create new combinations of desirable characteristics
    • Study the effects of management, environment and nutrition on production of animal products
    • Research the nutritional needs of livestock and determine the value of feed ingredients
    • Direct and supervise team of research technicians and students
    • Collect data and conduct experiments on changes in diet, environment and other factors
    • Evaluate results to discover ways to improve food quality, quantity and safety
    • Develop advanced techniques in nutrition, sanitation, parasite and disease control
    • Advise farmers, ranchers and processing facilities on best practices for safe and efficient food production
    • Share research and experiment results with producers, the scientific community and the public

Skills, qualities and knowledge

Analytical and scientific software
Cad software
Biology and chemistry
Nutrition
Critical thinking
Originality
Reading comprehension
Writing
Observation
Problem-solving
Attention to detail
Teamwork
Leadership
Communication
Time management
Patience
Integrity

Working hours and environment

Average working hours

40hweek

Typical schedule

Full Time

Standard business hours

Animal scientists typically work full time, with many hours devoted to laboratory and office work. You'll also do field work, overseeing processes and experiments at farms and other production facilities. Jobs are available with food manufacturers, universities, research and development firms, and the government.

Both domestic and international travel are possible for animal scientists. Visiting animal production facilities requires suitable protective clothing and following biosecurity measures. You may be subjected to loud noises from machinery, cold temperatures and proximity to animal by-products.

Salary

Bottom 10%

$36k

Median

$58k

Top 10%

$110k

Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.

Qualifications and training

Education level

Undergraduate

DVM / VMD degree

Study time

4years

Animal scientist careers require a bachelor's degree in agricultural science or a related subject like biology or biochemistry. Many candidates earn advanced degrees, typically in a specialty like genetics or animal reproduction.

Students are encouraged to include humanities, statistical analysis and computer courses in their path to a degree. These added subjects will assist you in being an effective animal scientist by improving your communication, research and technical skills.

Job outlook

Projected growth
The projected growth rate of employment in the US from 2016 to 2026, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme. The national average growth rate for all professions is 7%.

6%

No of new jobs
The number of jobs projected to become available in the US between 2016 and 2026, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme.

400

Automation risk
The probability of computerisation, based on data published in ‘The Future of Employment’, a 2013 working paper by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne.

6.1%

Career progression

Animal scientists have a variety of options to pursue with their bachelor's degree. This includes working for a food manufacturer, an agricultural research and development organisation, local government, or a consulting firm. An animal science degree is also useful for farm and ranch management careers.

Those with advanced degrees typically pursue research work at universities and for the government. You may also consider earning a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) and specialising in agricultural animals.