There is tremendous career potential with a degree in Animal Science. The career opportunities and the job offerings are numerous because of the diversity. There are seven basic areas in Animal Science. Those areas are: Genetics, Reproduction, Nutrition, Production, Handling Behavior & Welfare, Health & Disease, Benefit & Use. There are many types of jobs within each area that range from employment in large worldwide corportions to private personal businesses. There are many animal science jobs that go unfilled each year and most graduates have multiple job offers/opportunities if they have done very much looking. There are opportunities around the globe with beginning salaries ranging up to $100,000 depending on job-type and location.
The genetic code of animals impacts nearly all facets of animal life and production. Knowledge about how genes function, including the effect of the environment 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 opened by genetic research, such as genomic testing to assess breeding value in animals of any age and the use of CRISPR technology to alter genes, are expanding and will be integral to animal production in the future. Nearly every occupation involving animals rests on a foundation of the animals' genetic code.
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 those 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 and semen processors, in vitro fertilization lab technicians, veterinarians with reproduction specialty practices, pet breeders, etc.
Animal nutritionists enjoy rewarding careers in animal production and general agribusiness industries including such careers as livestock herdsperson and animal caretakers, nutrition consultant, feed/feed equipment salesperson. Animal nutritionists work on farms, ranches, feedlots, and diaries; for 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
This major is aimed at allowing everyone to have greater benefit from animals. In this career category, persons work to enrich the lives of others by many different means. In this area, we will focus on two career paths available: 1) Meat science 2) 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. Those entering this field find many different challenging and enriching activities to find innovations in the production of meat products. Career paths include, and are not limited to:
- Scientist for a meat, ingredient, or equipment company
- Processing management
- Quality assurance management
- And many more!!
Individuals using meat science as a career path can expect a median salary of $78,800/year* with a bachelor's degree. Average starting salary in this career path is $52,000/year* with a bachelor's degree. 79% 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 this area may combine different areas 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. We have placed students in many different career paths, including dolphin training/interactions. Recreation is a growing area where many people find job satisfaction through:
- Training recreational animals
- Equine-assisted therapy to promote physical and mental health
- Livestock shows
Because the types of jobs available vary widely in this field, the salary data varies widely. 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 persons more knowledgeable in these areas to help advise you.
Animal Health and Disease
Careers in the Animal Health and Disease section of Animal Science 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 all support staff and subsidiary positions to the above mentioned industries. These jobs exist nationwide and can be found in both rural and urban environments. These careers could involve laboratory research, public service, medical diagnostics and therapeutics, surgery and dentistry, animal product sales, government regulatory enforcement and oversight, and disease identification and tracking, to name just a few. Depending on the area and type of employment, entry-level starting annual salaries would range from $30,000 to $80,000 plus benefits.
The careers that students can pursue as part of the production pillar in Animal Science are very broad as it includes all segments of the industry. However, when considering production, the discussion usually falls around the actual production of the animals as opposed to supporting careers (supporting careers would be considered health, nutrition, reproduction, or in other words the other pillars). Specific careers would include farm manager, general managers and laborers. You would be involved in the everyday management of the production of animals as well as the management of the people who are helping with the production process. A strong business understanding will help you be successful in this career.
Animal Handling / Behavior and Welfare
The principles contained within this pillar will help and enhance your effectiveness in the others pillars. 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. Some of the principles will, however, cross over to support future involvement in companion animals as well.