Find The Best Animal Scientist Jobs For You

Where do you want to work?

0 selections

Animal Scientist Careers

What Does an Animal Scientist Do

Agricultural and food scientists research ways to improve the efficiency and safety of agricultural establishments and products.

Duties

Agricultural and food scientists typically do the following:

  • Conduct research and experiments to improve the productivity and sustainability of field crops and farm animals
  • Create new food products and develop new and better ways to process, package, and deliver them
  • Study the composition of soil as it relates to plant growth, and research ways to improve it
  • Communicate research findings to the scientific community, food producers, and the public
  • Travel between facilities to oversee the implementation of new projects

Agricultural and food scientists play an important role in maintaining and expanding 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 crops and livestock grow. Applied research uses the knowledge gained to discover ways to improve the quality, quantity, and safety of agricultural products.

Many agricultural and food scientists work with little supervision, forming their own hypotheses and developing their research methods. In addition, they often lead teams of technicians or students who help in their research. Agricultural and food scientists who are employed in private industry may need to travel between different sites to perform various duties for their employers.

The following are types of agricultural and food scientists:

Animal scientists typically 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 make them more productive or improve other characteristics. They advise farmers on how to upgrade housing for animals, lower animal death rates, increase growth rates, or otherwise increase the quality and efficiency of livestock.

Food scientists and technologists use chemistry, biology, and other sciences to study the basic elements of food. They analyze the nutritional content of food, discover new food sources, and research ways to make processed foods safe and healthy. Food technologists generally work in product development, applying findings from food science research to develop new or better ways of selecting, preserving, processing, packaging, and distributing food. Some food scientists use nanotechnology—problem-solving techniques that work on an atomic scale—to develop sensors that can detect contaminants in food. Other food scientists enforce government regulations, inspecting food-processing areas to ensure that they are sanitary and meet waste management standards.

Soil scientists examine the composition of soil, how it affects plant or crop growth, and how alternative soil treatments affect crop productivity. They develop methods of conserving and managing soil that farmers and forestry companies can use. Because soil science is closely related to environmental science, people trained in soil science also work to ensure environmental quality and effective land use.

Plant scientists work to improve crop yields and advise food and crop developers about techniques that could enhance production. They may develop ways to control pests and weeds.

Agricultural and food scientists in private industry commonly work for food production companies, farms, and processing plants. They typically improve inspection standards or overall food quality. They 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 agricultural and food scientists work for pharmaceutical companies, where they use biotechnology processes to develop drugs or other medical products. Some look for ways to process agricultural products into fuels, such as ethanol produced from corn.

At universities, agricultural and food scientists do research and investigate new methods of improving animal or soil health, nutrition, and other facets of food quality. They also write grants to organizations, such as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) or the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to get funding for their research. For more information on professors who teach agricultural and food science at universities, see the profile on postsecondary teachers.

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

How To Become an Animal Scientist

Agricultural and food scientists need at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited postsecondary institution, although many earn more advanced degrees. Some animal scientists earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM).

Education

Every state has at least one land-grant college that offers agricultural science degrees. Many other colleges and universities also offer agricultural science degrees or related courses. Degrees in related sciences, such as biology, chemistry, and physics, or in a related engineering specialty also may qualify people for many agricultural science jobs.

Undergraduate coursework for food scientists and technologists and for soil and plant scientists typically includes biology, chemistry, botany, and plant conservation. Students preparing to be food scientists take courses such as food chemistry, food analysis, food microbiology, food engineering, and food-processing operations. Students preparing to be soil and plant scientists take courses in plant pathology, soil chemistry, entomology (the study of insects), plant physiology, and biochemistry.

Undergraduate students in the agricultural and food sciences typically gain a strong foundation in their specialty, with an emphasis on teamwork through internships and research opportunities. Students also are encouraged to take humanities courses, which can help them develop good communication skills, and computer courses, which can familiarize them with common programs and databases.

Many people with bachelor’s degrees in agricultural sciences find work in related jobs rather than becoming an agricultural or food scientist. For example, a bachelor’s degree in agricultural science is a useful background for farming, ranching, agricultural inspection, farm credit institutions, or companies that make or sell feed, fertilizer, seed, or farm equipment. Combined with coursework in business, agricultural and food science could be a good background for managerial jobs in farm-related or ranch-related businesses. For more information, see the profile on farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers.

Many students with bachelor’s degrees in application-focused food sciences or agricultural sciences earn advanced degrees in applied topics such as nutrition or dietetics. Students who major in a more basic field, such as biology or chemistry, may be better suited for getting their Ph.D. and doing research within the agricultural and food sciences. During graduate school, there is additional emphasis on lab work and original research, in which 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.

Some agricultural and food scientists receive a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. Like Ph.D. candidates in animal science, a prospective veterinarian must first have a bachelor’s degree before getting into veterinary school.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Communication skills are critical for agricultural and food scientists. They must be able to explain their studies: what they were trying to learn, the methods they used, what they found, and what they think the implications of their findings are. They must also be able to communicate well when working with others, including technicians and student assistants.

Critical-thinking skills. Agricultural and food scientists must use their expertise to determine the best way to answer a specific research question.

Data-analysis skills. Agricultural and food scientists, like other researchers, collect data using a variety of methods, including quantitative surveys. They must then apply standard data analysis techniques to understand the data and get the answers to the questions they are studying.

Math skills. Agricultural and food scientists, like many other scientists, must have a sound grasp of mathematical concepts.

Observation skills. Agricultural and food scientists conduct experiments that require precise observation of samples and other data. Any mistake could lead to inconclusive or inaccurate results.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Some states require soil scientists to be licensed to practice. Licensing requirements vary by state, but generally include holding a bachelor’s degree with a certain number of credit hours in soil science, working under a licensed scientist for a certain number of years, and passing an examination.

Otherwise, certifications are generally not required for agriculture and food scientists, but they can be useful in advancing one’s career. Agricultural and food scientists can get certifications from organizations such as the American Society of Agronomy, the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists (ARPAS), the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), or the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA), and others. These certifications recognize expertise in agricultural and food science, and enhance the status of those who are certified.

Qualification for certification is generally based on education, previous professional experience, and passing a comprehensive exam. Scientists may need to take continuing education courses to keep their certification, and they must follow the organization’s code of ethics.

Other Experience

Internships are highly recommended for prospective food scientists and technologists. Many entry-level jobs in this occupation are related to food manufacturing, and firsthand experience can be highly valued in that environment.

What is the right job for my career path?

Tell us your goals and we'll match you with the right jobs to get there.

Average Salary
$63,188
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
7%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
15,675
Job Openings

Average Salary for an Animal Scientist

Animal Scientists in America make an average salary of $63,188 per year or $30 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $100,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $39,000 per year.
Average Salary
$63,188
Find Your Salary Estimate
How much should you be earning as an Architect? Use Zippia's Salary Calculator to get an estimation of how much you should be earning.

Best Paying Cities

City
ascdesc
Average Salarydesc
Omaha, NE
Salary Range57k - 102k$77k$76,786
Lodi, CA
Salary Range53k - 91k$70k$69,815
Hendersonville, TN
Salary Range48k - 86k$65k$65,155
Clovis, NM
Salary Range47k - 82k$63k$62,565
Houston, TX
Salary Range40k - 73k$55k$54,663
$40k
$102k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyascdescCompanyascdescStart DateascdescSalaryascdesc
Animal Scientist
Animal Scientist
Trans Ova Genetics, L.C.
Trans Ova Genetics, L.C.
03/24/2021
03/24/2021
$60,00003/24/2021
$60,000
Animal Scientist
Animal Scientist
Trans Ova Genetics, L.C.
Trans Ova Genetics, L.C.
03/24/2021
03/24/2021
$60,00003/24/2021
$60,000
Animal Scientist
Animal Scientist
Barrington Dairy, LLC
Barrington Dairy, LLC
03/22/2021
03/22/2021
$48,00603/22/2021
$48,006
Animal Scientist
Animal Scientist
Reproduction Specialty Group, Inc.
Reproduction Specialty Group, Inc.
03/18/2021
03/18/2021
$65,00003/18/2021
$65,000
Animal Scientist
Animal Scientist
Reproduction Specialty Group, Inc.
Reproduction Specialty Group, Inc.
03/18/2021
03/18/2021
$65,00003/18/2021
$65,000
See More Recent Salaries

Calculate your salary

Use Zippia's Salary Calculator to see how your pay matches up.

Animal Scientist Demographics

Gender

male

55.0 %

female

45.0 %

Ethnicity

White

84.4 %

Asian

5.5 %

Hispanic or Latino

5.2 %
See More Demographics

Animal Scientist Education

Majors

Biology
20.0 %

Degrees

Bachelors

56.3 %

Doctorate

25.0 %

Masters

18.8 %

Top Colleges for Animal Scientists

1. Cornell University

Ithaca, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,188
Enrollment
15,105

2. University of Georgia

Athens, GA • Public

In-State Tuition
$11,830
Enrollment
29,474

3. Purdue University

West Lafayette, IN • Public

In-State Tuition
$9,992
Enrollment
33,495

4. Ohio State University

Columbus, OH • Public

In-State Tuition
$10,726
Enrollment
45,769

5. University of Connecticut

Storrs, CT • Public

In-State Tuition
$15,730
Enrollment
18,830

6. University of California - Davis

Davis, CA • Public

In-State Tuition
$14,402
Enrollment
30,698

7. Texas A&M University

College Station, TX • Public

In-State Tuition
$11,870
Enrollment
53,194

8. Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA • Public

In-State Tuition
$18,454
Enrollment
40,108

9. University of Wisconsin - Madison

Madison, WI • Public

In-State Tuition
$10,555
Enrollment
30,360

10. University of Maryland - College Park

College Park, MD • Public

In-State Tuition
$10,595
Enrollment
30,184
See More Education Info

Online Courses For Animal Scientist That You May Like

Learn to Animate: Animation Principles
udemy
4.7
(607)

How to Animate Level 1: the complete guide to Animation Principles in Adobe Animate...

2D Animation Essentials in Moho & Anime Studio
udemy
4
(360)

Learn the essentials and start creating your own character animations...

Animal Behaviour and Welfare
coursera

Animal welfare has been described as a complex, multi-faceted public policy issue which includes important scientific, ethical, and other dimensions. Improving our understanding of animal welfare, involves the fascinating study of animal behavior as well as the challenge of accessing the emotions of animals. This is the On-Demand version of this course, which means you can start the course at any time and work through the course materials at your own pace. The materials and quizzes will always b...

See more
Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Best States For an Animal Scientist

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as an animal scientist. The best states for people in this position are Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire. Animal scientists make the most in Rhode Island with an average salary of $116,198. Whereas in Massachusetts and Connecticut, they would average $115,171 and $113,578, respectively. While animal scientists would only make an average of $112,531 in New Hampshire, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Delaware

Total Animal Scientist Jobs:
127
Highest 10% Earn:
$175,000
Location Quotient:
1.63
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Rhode Island

Total Animal Scientist Jobs:
89
Highest 10% Earn:
$190,000
Location Quotient:
1.18
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Maryland

Total Animal Scientist Jobs:
894
Highest 10% Earn:
$170,000
Location Quotient:
2.27
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
View Full List

How Do Animal Scientist Rate Their Jobs?

Working as an Animal Scientist? Share your experience anonymously.
Rate
Do you work as an Animal Scientist?
Rate how you like work as Animal Scientist. It's anonymous and will only take a minute.
Rate

Top Animal Scientist Employers

1. Riverview
4.0
Avg. Salary: 
$48,385
Animal Scientists Hired: 
215+
2. PIC
4.6
Avg. Salary: 
$70,997
Animal Scientists Hired: 
34+
3. Cargill
4.8
Avg. Salary: 
$65,616
Animal Scientists Hired: 
5+
4. Burns & Co.,
3.0
Avg. Salary: 
$66,931
Animal Scientists Hired: 
4+
5. Cumberland Valley Analytical
4.0
Avg. Salary: 
$56,257
Animal Scientists Hired: 
4+
6. Greenstone
4.5
Avg. Salary: 
$67,815
Animal Scientists Hired: 
3+
Updated October 2, 2020