Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



Zoo Jobs

There are many different kinds of jobs at zoos, from animal curator to development officer to public affairs director. Read about who does what below. To find out the qualifications for a job, read position advertisements, which include requirements for education, the number of years of experience, and type of experience.


Responsible for the health care program for the animal collection and the maintenance of health records.

Veterinary Technician

Assists the veterinarian and provides care to the animals under the supervision of the veterinarian.

Animal Curator

Manages some or all of an institution's animal collection. For instance, there may be a curator of mammals, or a curator of rainforest species.

Conservation Biologist/Zoologist

Provides scientific and technical assistance in the management of the animal collection and assists in conducting various research or field conservation projects.


Provides daily care to the institution's animals, including diet preparation, cleaning, general exhibit maintenance, and recordkeeping.


Maintains computer records on the animal collection and applies for permits and licenses to hold or transport animals.

General Curator

Oversees an institution's entire animal collection and animal management staff. Responsible for strategic collection planning.

Zoo Director

Executes policies as directed by the governing authority. Responsible for the institution's operation and plans for future development.

Assistant Director

Assists the director and assumes charge in the director's absence.

Finance Manager/Director

Manages the institution's finances, including payment of bills, purchasing, investments,and the preparation of financial statements.

Curator of Exhibits

Creates exhibits and assists in the design of graphics.

Curator of Horticulture

Responsible for the botanical collection and its application to the animal collection, as well as daily maintenance of the institution's grounds.

Curator of Education

Plans and implements the institution's education programs.

Public Relations/Affairs Manager/Director

Promotes the institution, its mission, and its programs to the public via the media.

Development Director/Officer

Develops and manages fund-raising activities which can include writing grant proposals and attracting corporate sponsors, as well as soliciting private donations.

Marketing Director/Manager

Creates advertising campaigns and other activities to increase public awareness of the institution.

Special Events Manager/Coordinator

Develops and implements events to attract visitors throughout the year.

Membership Director/Manager

Responsible for maintaining and increasing institution memberships for families and individuals and designing special events for members only. May also be in charge of "adopt-an-animal" programs to raise funds.

Gift Shop Manager

Manages staff and all aspects of gift shop operation from buying products to designing shops.

Visitor Services Manager

Supervises the staff and facilities that cater to the visiting public including concessions and restrooms.

Personnel Manager/Director

Responsible for all personnel matters including payroll, insurance, and tax matters.

Volunteer Coordinator

Responsible for recruiting and maintaining a staff of volunteers/docents. Duties include scheduling docents for on- and off-grounds activities and keeping docents abreast of new developments to relate to the public.


Duties may include diet preparation, small animal care, teaching educational programs, leading group tours, and staffing special events.

Curator/Coordinator/Director of Research

Supervises research projects, serves as liaison between the institution and the academic community, and publishes articles in scientific journals.

Curator/Coordinator/Director of Conservation

Oversees the institution's conservation activities, including field projects. Serves as liaison with government wildlife agencies and other conservation organizations.

Head Keeper/Aquarist

Supervises a section or department of the institution; provides training and scheduling for keepers.

Senior Keeper/Aquarist

Provides primary animal care for a department.

Operations Director/Manager

Responsible for the daily operation of the institution's physical plant and equipment.