Zoologist - Dr. Jess French

The first thing to say about Jess is that she has an extremely impressive array of letters after her name for someone so young – Dr. Jess French BSc (Hons) BVMedSci BVM BVS MRCVS! If you aspire to be a zoologist, a vet, an adventurer or a TV presenter then you could not find a better role model.

Jess obtained a first class degree in zoology before becoming a qualified vet. In between all that serious study, she has presented the CBeebies hit wildlife show ‘Minibeast Adventures with Jess’ and has worked on Live ‘n’ Deadly (CBBC), Deadly Mission Madagascar (CBBC), Springwatch (BBC) and Micro Monsters 3D (Sky).

If all that were not enough, she has worked in a gibbon sanctuary in Thailand, a monkey sanctuary in Bolivia and a dog shelter in India. She has chased gibbons through the Thai jungle and rafted the rapids in Africa.

Key Advice from Jess:

  1. You don’t necessarily need qualifications to be a good naturalist – just immerse yourself in the natural world
  2. Go for it – follow your dream occupation and not what other people expect you to do
  3. Don’t worry – if you do what you love as a career then everything will work out fine

Zoology as a Career

In a world where concerns for the environment are uppermost in the minds of many people, the job of the zoologist is increasingly important. It is their responsibility to study all kinds of animals not only in their natural habitats but also in zoos, aquariums and laboratories. By widening our understanding of the animal world it is possible to help all species co-exist alongside a burgeoning human population.

Most work is sponsored by government or educational institutions. Only a small number of zoologists work in the private sector.

It is a pre-requisite of the job that you can work methodically and that you meticulously record the results of your studies. More often than not, you will be part of a team so good communication and IT skills are essential. There may be opportunities to work abroad but remember that fieldwork might entail long hours in potentially hazardous conditions.

The entry level qualification is usually a bachelor’s degree. A master’s degree or a Ph.D are necessary for higher level positions. Many young people have an ambition to work with animals so you must expect the competition for jobs to be fierce.

Salary for lower level positions starts in the region of £20,000 per year but around £50,000 is achievable after several years' experience.

For further information visit the Zoologist Page on the National Careers Service website.

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