Zookeeper: How to Start an Interesting Career

Zookeepers groom animals, tend to their behavior and diets, manage their exercise routines, and more. They usually work in zoo settings and aquariums.

If you are passionate about animals, it’s high time you followed your dream and looked for a job as a zookeeper. You can specialize or decide to work in a group like carnivores or primates.


It’s important to note, however, that this role will require you to invest some extra time, including weekends and night hours. You will also be at high risk for animal scratches and bites, but not to worry, as this job is rewarding if you are passionate about animals.

As a zookeeper, you have to be passionate about animals
As a zookeeper, you have to be passionate about animals.

Zookeeper Job Requirements

ZooKeeper jobs are few and far between, thus making it very competitive. A degree in a similar discipline could be helpful in making you have better odds compared to those without. You can complete a degree in animal husbandry, zoology, botany, and any other similar course. Short courses such as zoo keeping and exotic animals might be helpful too.

Consider going for internships, too. Though unpaid, this training offers you knowledge of everyday zoo operations. You can also do part-time work to gain more experience in the field. You may work in an animal rescue organization, veterinary office, or wildlife rehabilitation center.


Ensure you are physically fit. This role is physically demanding, and as such, you need to be in a good position where you can lift, stoop, carry as much as 90 pounds, and also stand for long periods. You must have good vision and always be alert, especially during animal feeds and cleanings. This will also help you when you are conducting visual assessments of the animal’s health.

What Is the Zookeeper’s Job Description?

A zoo or any other animal orphanage is where you’ll work as a zookeeper. Typical duties you will do every day include the following.

  • Observing and recording animal behavior
  • Training animals
  • Constructing enrichment items
  • Educating zoo visitors
  • Administering veterinary care

Average Salary of a Zookeeper

In 2012, non-farm animal keepers earned an average rate of $10.75 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is equivalent to $22,370 per year. This category, however, goes beyond just zookeepers; it includes stables, kennels, veterinary clinics, and pet stores.


If you checked on Indeed.com, jobs posted in this category offer about $28,000 per year, which is about $13.46 per hour. The 10% highest-earning animal caretakers earn about $15.63+/hour, while the lowest 10% earn less than $7.93 per hour.

How to Get a Zookeeper Job

Most of these positions require one to have a valid driver’s license and a spotless driving record. A certificate in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) will also come in handy considering the risks involved in working with undomesticated animals.

If you want to network with like-minded people, consider joining an association of Zookeepers in your area. You can attend conferences and workshops to help you stay abreast of the current trends and topics in the industry. This is one great way to network and possibly land that job.


If you have a passion for animals, working as a zookeeper might be your calling. Reaching out to friends and visiting zoos might be one step forward in landing your dream job. Do what you love, and follow your heart. It is rewarding and worth it.

Also read – Jobs That Help Save Animals Facing Extinction