theonethatwanders asked: Hi, i have been reading some of your answers to previous questions about becoming a zookeeper and i can't help but notice that you have mentioned it is rare but possible to get into the field without schooling? do you have any examples? or is it one of those start at the bottom and work your way up? i am currently in my first year of journalism and regret not going with my true passion, so now im looking into the field, any advice?
Yes, I would say it is rare but possible. It really depends on the zoo and will take a fair bit of perfect timing and/or dumb luck.
I know a few keepers who have no college degree, but they started their careers years ago. And then I know a few newer keepers with only 2-year degrees, which I think gives you a better chance than no degree at all.
If you’re still in your first year studying something entirely different, it shouldn’t be too late to change your major. People change their minds in college all the time, and most schools don’t require you to declare a major until your second year.
So my advice to you would be:
a) Change your major to a biological science if you are able to do so. You might even be able to keep journalism as a minor if it’s something that you don’t want to give up entirely.
b) Start getting some animal experience, in the form of a volunteer position, internship, or job at a farm, animal shelter, zoo, laboratory, etc.
And for anyone who is has already completed a degree in something non-biological, or who has been outside of academia for awhile and has no desire to get back into the school thing, but is trying to start a career in animal care: apply to everything you can because you never know. Get some animal experience. And remember that your best bets will probably be with smaller, less “flashy” institutions.