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animal psychologist - The W1nners' Club

So, your bedtime is now usually the same time that most people wake up and the time you wake up is roughly the same time that most people go to bed. Unemployment has forced these new nocturnal habits upon you and despite not really being bothered about not having a job to get up for every day, at some point you’ll need to convince your credit card provider that you’re not a risk if you want them to increase your limit.

Have you ever considered becoming an animal psychologist?

The pay is half decent and you’ll get to spend the majority of your time working with animals and their owners (there’s always a catch).

If working out if cats really do despise their owners sounds like it could be a blast, here’s what you’ll need to do to become successful:

1.    Complete a graduate degree course


Some universities offer degree courses in animal behavioural sciences, but failing that (not the course we hope) you could always take your studies in a related field such as biology, zoology, psychology, neural sciences, or anthropology.

2.    ……and then study some more


Just when you think you know all there is to know about what to do if a chimpanzee is in a bad mood about something, you’ll still have to do some additional study at post-graduate level to prove you’ve got what it takes to become a horse whisperer. You’ll require an advanced degree such as a Master of Arts or Science (MA or MS), a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) once you’ve finished your Bachelor’s degree.

3.    Get some experience


Try to get some practical experience either whilst you’re studying or directly afterwards as some employers may require internships on your CV before they offer you a job. It will also help if you can diversify your internship experience to get a better idea of which areas to focus your attention on. You may decide to take up a position at a zoo or a government institution for example – although it has to be said that the only real difference between the two is that the zoo animals are slightly better behaved than the majority of civil servants.

4.    Apply for research grants


Grants and fellowships can help you to continue doing research work after you have finished your animal behaviour studies. There are various organisations that offer opportunities in this area like universities, research institutions, or independent groups like the animal behaviour society. Please note that your ‘research’ work will need to have academic merit and won’t simply involve swimming with dolphins somewhere nice and hot until all the cash runs out!

5.    Keep abreast of what’s going on in the world of animal psychology


Trade publications, journals and conferences will all help you to keep up to date with the latest developments in your field. You may also find job opportunities advertised in such publications as The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour’s ‘Daily Tail’ and the ‘Tail on Sunday’ – which of course don’t actually exist – silly!

6.    Apply for jobs


It’s better if you start looking for full time work before you graduate from your studies as competition for roles in animal psychology can be just as fierce as some of the animals you will be required to work with. Consider whether you want to develop your career in a more academic direction at places like universities and research facilities, or a more professional route at places like zoos or aquariums. It is of course up to you to decide what the best route will be for you, but bear in mind the fact that you very rarely see groups of school kids out on a day trip at a scientific research facility unless they’re from the cast of Stranger Things……

7.    Keep networking


Ultimately, your career development will depend on who you know as much as what you know, so be sure to attend lots of social events to keep your profile up. Industry events are also a great way to meet new people who share your interests. All we ask is that you stay aware of the fact that just because you’re attending the Animal Behaviour Society’s annual gala dinner, this does not grant you licence to behave like an animal once the free prosecco starts flowing.


Good luck!


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