Growing up, Dr. Doolittle was a hero–the role model in a white coat, saving the animal kingdom, one species at a time. Have you ever wondered about why animals behave the way they do? Do you ever think about just how different the anatomy of various animals is, compared to that of a human’s? Are you passionate about animal rights, health and welfare? Do you enjoy being surrounded by an entire population of cats, dogs, sheep, cows, and everything in between far more than you enjoy being surrounded by humans? And last but not least, did you chuckle just a tiny bit with the animal pun in the title?If you answered yes to one of these questions, then chances are, you’re probably an animal sciences major.
What is Animal Sciences?
Just as there are the Biological, Chemical, and Physical Sciences, there is a specific section devoted to the study of animals in and of itself. According to My Plan, Animal Sciences is a “general program that focuses on scientific principles that underlie the breeding and husbandry of agricultural animals, and the production, processing, and distribution of agricultural animal products.” In a nutshell, Animal Sciences is the building block for future veterinarians, zoologists, breeding and livestock consultants, and animal scientists.
What kind of skills can you develop?
In order to encompass all the knowledge of an Animal Sciences major, it’s important to understand that textbook learning is only half of the real education you need. In fact, many argue that textbook learning is nothing with developing real skills needed in the workforce. Reading comprehension and science skills are some of the most basic skills needed for any sort of science related major. Because of how different animal sciences is compared to the general biological sciences the average Joe remembers, it’s crucial to not only soak up the information being studied but to understand and comprehend the methods involved.
If you’re interested in Animal Sciences, do realize that there has to be this fiery passion inside of you about animal welfare and health. You also must be able to “communicate with a wide range of people“…and species, of course.
What kind of career opportunities are available with an Animal Sciences major?
With the rise in popularity of the Animal Sciences major, there is a huge availability in the job market. Being an Animal Sciences major does not necessarily mean one is limited to only working with animals; in fact, many animal sciences major often choose to go into far different routes than just hands on. Career opportunities in the government, education, business, industry, and research include:
- Manager of food processing/packing facilities
- Veterinarian (clinic and kennel operations)
- Veterinarian Assistant/Technician
- Feed and equipment manufacturers
- Pharmaceutical firms (including testing with animals)
- Animal scientists and researchers
- Government positions (including environmental regulators, disease control, and public information)
How do I prepare myself for this major?
If you’re really ready to take on the task of animal sciences, a great way to start is to become involved in a veterinarian club in college and perhaps even in high school. Though becoming a veterinarian may not be your ideal career, it’s better to be involves in some sort of organization that’s focused on animals instead of on something completely out of your field, such as astronomy or writing. Another great way to prepare yourself is by shadowing veterinarians or interning at research institutions, zoos, vet clinic, or farms that focus specifically on the animal kingdom. If you plan on attending any graduate programs after your basic undergraduate training, then it’s crucial that you study for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or any other standardized entrance exam.
What are some undergraduate programs that offer Animal Sciences?
It’s a no brainer that majoring in Animal Sciences will always be in demand due to the plethora of jobs available on the market. If you are interested in Animal Sciences, it’s imperative that you ask a prospective college or university if they have a strong department at their institution. Fun fact: Here in Texas, it’s actually harder to receive admission to a veterinary school than it is to a medical school, especially considering that the ratio of veterinary schools to medical schools is 9:1. Below are just a few colleges with incredibly strong and renowned Animal Sciences departments and programs:
- Texas A&M University – College Station
- Cornell University
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- University of Georgia
- University of California – Davis
- University of Florida