Can you turn your love of animals into a career? The good news is that there are many types of jobs that involve working with animals, most of them within zoological parks. Although only some of them involve direct contact with animals, all zoological careers play an important role, whether directly or indirectly, in caring for the animals. Although job descriptions, responsibilities, and criteria may vary within the zoological community, this booklet specifically aims to provide you with a behind-the-scenes look at the responsibilities and training necessary for certain jobs at the Sea World parks and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, all of which are members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The section Exploring Career Opportunities profiles these positions and provides decriptions of specific job responsibilities and challenges. Be sure to read through them all; you may find that the job you thought you wanted no longer interests you, or you may discover a new, exciting possibility.
The competition for any job in a zoological park is keen. Because zoos and aquariums are becoming increasingly important community resources for environmental education and species conservation, jobs in these institutions are in high demand. But hard work will be the key. It's assumed that a person applying for a job in a zoological park loves animals, but it's more important to a prospective employer that the person is hard-working, responsible, and well educated. For instance, with more demanding technical and scientific jobs, solid research skills might be considered with more weight than how much an applicant cares for or loves working with the animals. Therefore, getting the right schooling is one of the most important things you can do to chart a path to a career working with animals. The suggestions in Finding a School will help you as you search for an educational institution that offers the right program for your chosen career. Another step along the way to a zoological park career is getting your foot in the door. The section titled Tips for Starting your Career will give you some ideas on how to get started.