Among the more unique and interesting degrees within the College of Arts+Sciences is the Bachelor’s of Science in Animal Behavior. Being such a specific field of study, students that I meet with often wonder what ways they can make a living with their degree.
While research is the first thought for many Animal Behavior majors, the career considerations need not stop there. In fact, Animal Behavior graduates hold a variety of different careers. A quick LinkedIn search turned up IU alumni with a degree in Animal Behavior currently employed at JP Morgan Chase, Eli Lily, and Cook Medical, among other non-traditional paths. Here are just a few of those non-traditional career paths that are open to and value Animal Behavior graduates:
Government & Private Research
In this setting, you may be conducting health related research for the Government or a private institution. Drugs aimed at treating diseases and their outcomes on behavior may be assessed. These agencies however are still bound to proper levels of legal & ethical treatment of animals. Generally these opportunities require a PhD and pay more than in academia, however the level of autonomy is lower.
Broadcasting & Science Writing
Between films, documentaries, articles, and books; there is a need for individuals with strong written and verbal communication skills to aid in informing the public and professionals about animal behavior. With a greater amount of autonomy, this path can fulfill both a desire to work with animals and engage in work that is creative in nature.
With Animal Behavior graduates’ heightened attention to detail on all types of behavior, they are well prepared to document and study choice, reinforcement, and personality. Advertising hinges on these qualities, and similar to Broadcasting & Science Writing, it is a field which grants a certain level of creativity. However, there is often less autonomy in this career.
Working directly with human or non-human animals to enhance adjustment and productive behaviors is the role of Animal Behavior majors in clinical settings. Typically, this requires an advanced degree, although careers in this setting are less competitive than academia and compensation is quite high. In a private practice setting, flexibility in hours allows more autonomy for work schedule and salary.
Applied Animal Behavior Training
As suggested by the title of this section, you will be applying studies of behavior to the training of companion, farm, zoo, and laboratory animals. With a focus in psychology, most individuals find work ranging from pet day-care programs all the way to working with the ASPCA, Humane Society, or wildlife management agencies. Like the clinical settings, there is a large amount of flexibility in schedule.
What are my next steps?
If you’re not sure about how you want to use your animal behavior degree, the best thing to start with is exploring the lives of individuals who are doing work that sounds interesting. Consider checking out IU Animal Behavior alumni on LinkedIn through the IU school page. Another great resource for individuals interested in Animal Behavior is the Animal Behavior Society. The ABS is a professional organization that holds conferences, grants funding, and facilitates career connections between individuals who have interests related to Animal Behavior. Pro tip: you don’t have to be an Animal Behavior major to join.
Taking the leap from full-time student to full-time worker is tough. The Walter Center for Career Achievement is here to make it less tough. Let us help you build a solid plan, write a great resume, and help you transition into a career that fits for you.