A degree in Animal Science allows for tremendous career potential. With the diversity of seven basic areas of study, job offerings are numerous and diverse in areas such as Genetics, Reproduction, Nutrition, Production, Handling Behavior and Welfare, Health and Disease, and Benefits and Use. Employement opportunities are available from private personal businesses to large worldwide corporations. Job type and location will determine yearly salaries generally ranging from $36,000 to $126,000.
The genetic code of animals impacts nearly all facets of animal life and production. Knowledge about how genes function, the effect of the enviroment on genetics, and how genetic value can be measured to predict animal performance, is expanding rapidly. Selection of breeding animals for improved traits and profitability has long been at the core of agricultural success. New fields and careers are being opened by genetic research such as genomic testing to access breeding value in animals of any age, and the use of CRISPR technology to alter genes. These technologies are expanding and will be intergal to animal production in the future.
In operations where livestock are being bred and grown, the trait of reproductive ability is at least four times as impactful on the economic bottom line as any other production trait. Therefore, enabling conception and live birth of animals is an important component of most livestock enterprises and is essential in pet breeding businesses. Owners and managers of animal enterprises need to understand what is needed for efficient reproduction of their animals. Other jobs that specifically focus on reproductive skills or carrying out reproduction programs include herdsmen in beef, dairy, and pig operations, artificial insemination technicians, semen processors, in vitro fertilization lab technicians, veterinarians with reproduction specialty practices, and pet breeders.
Animal nutritionists enjoy rewarding careers in animal production and general agribusiness industries including such careers as: livestock herdsperson, animal caretakers, nutrition consultant, feed/feed equipment sales. Animal nutritionists work in technical, managerial, and administrative positions on farms, ranches, feedlots, dairies, pet or livestock feed companies, research laboratories, pharmaceutical companies, state and federal government agencies, and even zoos, in technical, managerial and administrative positons. Some animal nutritionists are self-employed. Undergraduate training in animal nutrition also prepares students for careers in numerous related animal science fields and for further training in nutrition.
Benefit and Use
Achieving greater benefit from animals and enriching lives is the focus of two distinct career paths in this area: meat science and recreation
Meat science is a career path for those science minded individuals who want to improve the use of animal products for human consumption. Persons with a passion for applying science into challenging situations will find great satisfaction in this career path as they find innovations in the production of meat products. Career paths include, but are not limited to: quality assurance management, processing management, and being a scientist for a meat, ingredient, or equipment company.
Individuals using meat science as a career path generally have a median salary of $78,800/year* with a bachelor's degree. An average starting salary in this career path is $52,000/year* with a bachelor's degree. Seventy-nine percent of individuals in this field work less than 50 hours a week, and 86% of individuals in this field find that their job is satisfying (with almost 40% of individuals reporting they are highly satisfied). *
*salary data presented using the 2015 IFT Salary Survey
Careers in recreation may combine different disciplines of study to allow a person to find their ideal career. For example, a person interested in working in equine-assisted therapy for individuals with Cerebral Palsy may need to take course work in education, recreational management, and animal science to prepare for their career. Recreation is a growing area where many people find job satisfaction through: rodeos, livestock shows, recreational animal training, and equine-assisted therapy to promote physical and mental health. Students in our program have excelled in many different career pahs, from equine-assited therapy to dolphin training/interactions.
Because the types of jobs available vary widely in this field, there is a wide range for potential earnings. If you are looking for more specific information on a specific type of job, please come and talk to a member of our faculty. We will direct you to a more knowledgeable contact in your area of interest to help advise you.
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Animal Health and Disease
Careers in the Animal Health and Disease include jobs such as veterinarians, veterinary technicians, pharmaceutical and biological company representatives, drug and animal product researchers and developers, epidemiologists, federal and state government animal regulatory officers, and include all support staff and subsidiary positions. These jobs exist nationwide in both rural and urban environments. Skill areas in this discipline include laboratory research, public service, medical diagnostics and therapeutics, surgery, dentistry, animal product sales, government regulatory enforcement and oversight, disease identification and tracking, and many others. Depending on the location and type of employment, entry-level starting annual salaries generally range from $30,000 to $80,000 plus benefits.
Production careers include all segments of the food animal industry. Production refers to the direct husbandry activities such as feeding, caring for, breeding, and marketing of animals as oppsoed to the allied industry of providing products and services to producers. Specific careers would include farm managers. general managers and laborers. You would be involved in making management decisions such as deciding the timing of animal birth, growth rate, feed, marketing, replacement strategies, and how many animals to retain. A strong business understanding will help you be successful in this career.
Animal Handling / Behavior and Welfare
The principles contained in animal handling, behavior and welfare enhance your effectiveness in all other areas of animal science. Specific careers would include consulting, lobbyist, training and caretakers. Our focus here at BYU-Idaho is centered on the Animal Handling/Behavior and Welfare as it is related to food animal production, with limited exposure to companion animals.