It's one of the most-asked questions here at the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute: How can I work in a zoo?
Depending on the the job, there are lots of different answers. But there is one thing they all require: a commitment to the welfare of animals and conservation of species.
If you are interested in a profession working in close contact with animals on a daily basis, such as wildlife biologist or veterinarian, an advanced degree in zoology or veterinary medicine is recommended. Jobs requiring less schooling but include frequent, direct contact with animals include veterinary technician, zoo keeper, or wildlife technician.
Since most of these jobs are popular, there are often more applicants than positions. You should expect strong competition and salaries considered low relative to the level of education necessary to perform them. And these jobs aren't easy. Caring for animals can require around-the-clock attention in some settings. Wildlife biology can involve working outdoors in sometimes difficult field environments.
Looking to take adult classes on conservation and wildlife issues? Be sure to check out The Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation. This institution offers a range of compelling residential, hands-on, interdisciplinary programs in conservation biology for undergraduate and graduate students and professionals at the facility on the grounds of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia.