How to Become a Mammalogist

Career Path Guide

If you want to become a mammalogist, you’ll first need to determine if this career is a good fit for you.


If you're strong in the sciences and you’re interested in a career that allows you to study the habitats and biological characteristics of mammals, then this career path might be a great choice for you.


Below we've outlined what you'll need to succeed in a career as a mammalogist. We've also included helpful occupational information, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Education Needed to Become a Mammalogist

To become a mammalogist you need to begin by earning a bachelor of science degree in biology or a closely related field such as environmental science or zoology


Completing undergraduate coursework in mammalogy, wildlife biology, conservation biology, ecology, zoology and mathematics is a great way to build an educational foundation for your prospective career as a mammalogist.


Depending on the requirements of the employer, a master’s degree in biology (with a specialization in mammalogy or a related field) is typically sufficient for many applied research positions.


To work in research or a university teaching position, a Ph.D. in biology or mammalogy is needed. Mammalogists must also complete continuing education throughout their careers in order to keep their skills current and stay up to date with advancements in the field.





General Job Description

Mammalogists observe mammals in their natural habitats and in laboratories in order to study various biological, physical and social aspects of their lives.


They must study the origin and development of various mammal species as well as their habitats and behaviours. Mammalogists also study how animal traits are passed from one generation to the next.



Typical Job Duties

• Research various aspects of mammals, such as feeding, sleeping and breeding patterns, diet, socialization, life expectancy, habitation attributes and others

• Perform field research by observing mammals in their natural habitats

• Perform laboratory research by working with specimens

• May be involved in teaching and publishing peer-reviewed articles

• May be responsible for assisting with the control of rodent populations to ensure they don’t harm crops, property or infrastructure

• If working as a museum curator, a mammalogist must prepare and catalog mammal specimens using a computer-generated program



Mammalogist Salary: How Much Do Mammalogists Earn?

The actual wages and salaries of mammalogists can vary greatly, typically depending on the following factors:


• Their level of education and experience

• The amount of responsibility inherent in their job

• The size and type of their employer

• Whether they work part-time or full-time hours

• The structure of their financial benefits package, if they have one

• The region in which they work

• Their salary negotiating abilities

• Many other factors


Mammalogist Salary in Alberta: According to the 2019 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, the average salary level of Albertans working in the “Biologists” occupational group is $92,613 per year.


Salary - All of Canada: According to ECO Canada, a wildlife biologist in an entry level position can make between $33,000 and $38,500 per year in Canada. With several years of education and experience, they tend to make between $47,300 and $78,500 per year.


Salary - United States: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of Americans working in the “Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists” occupational group is $63,420 per year.





Characteristics of Successful Mammalogists

To be successful as a mammalogist, you'll need a certain set of personality traits in addition to your education and experience. Such characteristics include:


• An interest, curiosity and appreciation of mammals

• An keen interest in protecting wildlife

• An interest in mathematics, statistics, research and science

• Enjoy conducting research and synthesizing information

• Stamina and endurance in order to handle long hours of fieldwork

• Must have attention to detail

• Must possess excellent observation skills

• Strong organizational skills and ability to keep detailed records



Work Conditions Typical to This Profession

The work conditions for mammalogists can vary greatly depending on factors such as the duties of a specific project, who their employer is, their level of experience and which work setting they operate within. Below are examples of typical work conditions for mammalogists based on the setting in which they work.


Office-Based Work: Mammalogists working in an office setting provide advice and counsel to businesses, environmental groups or government agencies. These mammalogists typically work during normal weekday hours.


Classroom-Based Work: These mammalogists typically conduct lectures, grade papers and advise students. They have working hours that can fluctuate from very few hours a week to a very heavy workload. They may work normal weekday working hours with extra hours put in for preparing lesson plans, grading papers and performing other duties during evenings and weekends. Some mammalogists teaching in universities and colleges may teach classes exclusively, perform research exclusively, or be involved in both sets of activities.


Laboratory-Based Work: These mammalogists spend the majority of their time conducting, documenting and analyzing research in a laboratory setting. Working in a laboratory typically involves working directly with mammals, and may involve working with hazardous organic materials and inorganic chemicals. These mammalogists typically work during normal weekday hours.


Field-Based Work: Field mammalogists are involved in the identification and documentation of species, ecosystems, populations and habitats, as well as the collection of biological samples. Mammalogists who perform work in the field are subject to a variety of weather conditions and work hazards (such as marking, housing, trapping, and collecting mammals).



Who Employs Mammalogist? Where Do They Work?

The following types of employers are typically interested in utilizing the skills, knowledge and competencies of mammalogists:


• Provincial/state and federal government departments

• Environmental consulting firms

• Large resource-based corporations such as pulp and paper producers, oil and gas companies and mining companies

• Non-profit organizations such as Ducks Unlimited, Alberta Conservation Association, or Wildlife Habitat Canada

• Zoos, aquariums and nature centres

• Colleges and universities (in teaching and/or research capacities)



Current Job Postings

Our job board below has "mammalogist/wildlife biologist" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.



Similar Careers in Our Database

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to "mammalogist", as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.



Marine Biologist



Wildlife Biologist




Please use the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a mammalogist.


Occupations in Alberta:Biologist.” (March 31, 2019). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved February 24, 2020.

Life, Physical, and Social Science:Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists.” (March 29, 2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved December February 24, 2020.

Information About Mammalogy:Careers in Mammalogy.” Prepared by the Committee on Education and Graduate Students of the American Society of Mammalogists (n.d.). American Society of Mammalogists website. Retrieved December 31, 2019.

Career Profiles:Wildlife Biologist.” (n.d.). ECO Canada website. Retrieved February 24, 2020.



Scholarships for Becoming a Mammalogist

Scholarships in Canada and the United States listed for majors that are relevant for becoming a mammalogist can be found on our Biology Scholarships page.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Relevant University Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point for getting into this line of work. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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