Zookeeper Assistant Program | Explore Zoo Jobs (2023)

Job Prospects and Zookeeper Assistant Salary

Getting a zookeeper assistant certificate online puts you on a path to fulfilling your dreams of working in a zoo where you can make a difference in the lives of exotic and often endangered animals. What do zookeeper assistants do? Among other things, they care for exotic animals, educate visitors, and help conserve endangered species. Becoming a zookeeper assistant opens doors to several career options.

Zookeeper Assistant Program | Explore Zoo Jobs (1)

Animal Behavior College’s Zookeeper Assistant Program will introduce you to the duties of working in a zoo within a zookeeper assistant job, which can be a great first step towards a zookeeper career. You will learn the science of animal care, animal behavior, breeding and conservation and so much more. The term “zookeeper” can apply to a variety of positions at a facility, depending on its size, staffing capabilities and budget. Job titles can range from general curator to animal-care supervisor to animal keeper to zookeeper assistant.

Zookeeper Assistant Program | Explore Zoo Jobs (2)
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts overall employment of animal care and service workers is projected to grow 33 percent from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations.1

This employment growth should result in very good job opportunities for those with animal care education and experience, such as zookeeper jobs, various zoo careers and zookeeper assistant jobs.

The current zookeeper assistant salary is around $38,500 per year in some locations. Plus, zookeeper assistants can pursue their passion of working with animals without a lofty student loan often incurred to study and acquire a zookeeper degree. This is your opportunity to have a successful career as a Zookeeper Assistant and start your zookeeper education today! Learn more about ABC’s Zookeeper Assistant Program by calling 800-795-3294

ABC’s Zookeeper Assistant Certificate Online

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Our Zookeeper Assistant Program consists of 10 in-depth stages packed with information. The course contains vital information to prepare you for a career in a zoo or start you on your path to further zookeeper education. You will also learn the basics about conservation and how to care for exotics and help endangered species.

Our program includes information on:

  • Species specific husbandry, including carnivores, primates, elephants, and more
  • Animal housing and exhibits
  • Animal behavior, enrichment, and training
  • Animal safety
  • Exotic animal health and nutrition
  • Exotic animal health and conservation
  • Career building
  • And more!


Learn from Zookeepers & Zoo Job Professionals

Meet the authors and subject matter experts who were involved in the development of ABC’s Zookeeper Assistant Program. They have shared their decades of zookeeping experience in the creation of this highly sought-after program.

Meet Alisa Behar – Subject Matter Expert

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Alisa Behar earned a BS degree in Environmental Biology from California State University Northridge and a graduate degree in Zoo Animal Management at an Australian university. She has worked as a zookeeper at several facilities, including The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Palm Desert, California; St. Maarten Park Zoo in St. Maarten, Netherland Antilles; and the Bronx Zoo in New York City. For more than 10 years, Alisa taught students at America’s Teaching Zoo in Moorpark, California.

Alisa currently works as the curator of mammals at the Los Angeles Zoo. Throughout her career, Alisa has handled a wide range of animals including carnivores, primates, birds and reptiles. Her proudest accomplishment occurred at the St. Maarten Park Zoo, where she taught the staff how to provide enhanced care for the animals through enrichment programs, training, better nutrition and preventative health regimens. Alisa is passionate about helping educate future zookeepers, so they can better care for animals at zoos around the world, just as she did.

Meet Kirsten Smith – Co-Author of our Program

Kirsten Smith has a BS degree in Wildlife Biology and Conservation from Texas Tech University and an MS in Zoo and Aquarium Science from Michigan State University. Her educational experience at Texas Tech included two study trips to Africa and Costa Rica to learn about international conservation policies and research procedures.
Zookeeper Assistant Program | Explore Zoo Jobs (5)

Previously, Kirsten has assisted the Texas Parks and Wildlife agency on several research projects involving native species such as pronghorn antelope, coyotes, mountain lions, and mule deer. While studying at Michigan State, she was a zookeeper assistant and conducted research at multiple zoos, including the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. Currently, Kirsten volunteers as a zookeeper assistant in the Asia Department of the El Paso Zoo, caring for elephants, orangutans, Sumatran tigers, and other species while continuing her work with Animal Behavior College.

After working with animals from all across the globe, Kirsten’s favorite part is learning how to bring each field of study together to accomplish one goal: provide the best care and protection for all of Earth’s natural resources.

Meet Crystallynn Hetlinger – Co-Author of the Program

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Crystallynn Hetlinger was born in Los Angeles county, and spent her childhood traveling between California and Peru. When she graduated high school, she knew she wanted to work with animals for the rest of her life. As a young adult, she graduated with honors from California Polytechnic University Pomona with a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science, which she put to use in myriad ways. She now has more than 15 years of animal experience that spans the globe, from laboratory research to enrichment at wildlife rehabilitation centers.

Eventually, she decided she wanted to help others achieve their goals by sharing what she learned and settled into a role of writer and educator. This is not her first collaboration with ABC; she also co-authored our Cat Training Program.

Meet Ms. Courtney Deutsch – Co-Author of the Zookeeper Assistant Program

Courtney Deutsch has BS in Zoo Science from Delaware Valley University in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. During her education, she spent summers interning with Lehigh Valley Zoo in Pennsylvania and Zoo Miami in Florida. While working at the latter in the African carnivores and primates department of Zoo Miami, Courtney assisted staff in an ethogram of their pack of African painted dogs while helping to complete exhibit renovations.

Zookeeper Assistant Program | Explore Zoo Jobs (7)

After graduation, she worked in the Children’s Center of the Staten Island Zoo, New York, providing daily husbandry for a variety of species. Courtney later received a dual husbandry and research fellowship—the Robert G. Engel Internship in Mammalogy—with the Bronx Zoo, in which she collaborated with curators to research probable causes of intra-group aggression among their mandrill troop.

Today, Courtney continues her career with the Bronx Zoo as a Provisional Wild Animal Keeper. Her ongoing goals include working on more zoological research projects, supporting conservation effort, and traveling the wild places she’s dedicated to preserving.

How Much Does It Cost to Become an ABC Certified Zookeeper Assistant?

Tuition for our Zookeeper Assistant Program ranges from $1,995 $1,795 to $2,695 USD, depending on your payment arrangement.* on your payment plan. This price is all-inclusive and covers your learning materials, certification and student support.

Speak with an Admissions Counselor today and see what payment plan is right for you. Contact an Admissions at 800-795-3294

*Ask about our discount for Active Military and Veterans who enroll in our distance learning courses

Flexible Online Course & ” A College Near You”

ABC’s Zookeeper Assistant Course is designed so you can keep your current job and still pursue your zookeeper education. Your course materials and tests are all accessed online, meaning they are available 24/7 and you can learn from the comfort and safety of your own home. This allows you to study no matter where you are, giving you the flexibility to fit your education into your current lifestyle. The approximate completion time for our Program is 8 months.

Support for Our Students

After you enroll, you will receive the contact information for your personal Program Manager. You will be learning from a zookeeping professional who has real life working knowledge and experience in zoos and zookeeping. They will be there for you throughout your studies and to provide support, answer questions, and grade your exams.

ABC Zookeeper Assistant Certification

Zookeeper Assistant Program | Explore Zoo Jobs (8)

Upon successful completion of your Zookeeper Assistant Course, you will receive your professional certification as an Animal Behavior College Certified Zookeeper Assistant (ABCZA). Your certification will help you stand out when interviewing for volunteer and employment opportunities at zoos, conservation centers and wildlife rehabilitation facilities. This is your first step toward a career as a zookeeper assistant or an initial stepping stone to further your education with a zookeeper degree if that is your end goal!.

Turn your love of animals into your career today. Get started on becoming a Certified Zookeeper Assistant by calling 800-795-3294.


Please note: Animal Behavior College does not guarantee employment after graduation.

*Additional shipping and handling charges may apply.




Is a zookeeper a hard job? ›

Being a zookeeper can be one of the most challenging yet rewarding career paths. With its huge range of responsibilities - including care, observation and training of animals - being a zookeeper has you familiarising yourself with the vast animal kingdom through a demanding job that requires the utmost dedication.

What do zookeeper assistants do? ›

Common zookeeper assistant job tasks include cleaning, feeding, watering, exercising and/or training the animals under the direct supervision of one or more higher-ranking zookeepers. The term “zookeeper” can apply to a variety of positions at a facility, depending on its size and staffing capabilities.

Is working at a zoo stressful? ›

Challenging and stressful but rewarding

Working with animals is rewarding but also stressful and demanding, and working in the elements and exposed to dangerous animals is physically taxing and takes its toll. The zoo could do more to show its appreciation. There is little room for advancement.

Is being a zookeeper stressful? ›

Being a zookeeper can be physically and emotionally demanding. Zookeepers are at risk of getting bitten, kicked or otherwise injured when handling or restraining animals. They might have to manage stressful or difficult situations such as animals becoming injured, sick or euthanized.

Is working at a zoo worth it? ›

If you are passionate about the idea of caring for all types of animals, including venomous snakes and hungry tigers, you may wish to consider in-demand zookeeper jobs. Landing a job with an ethical zoo that puts the well-being of animals over profits can be deeply rewarding.

How long do zookeepers work a day? ›

Zookeepers typically work 40 hours per week, but they may be required to work weekends, holidays, and evenings. They also may be on call 24 hours a day in case of an emergency with an animal.

How long does it take to become a zookeeper assistant? ›

Experience and Education: Six months full-time experience, or the equivalent of 1,040 part-time hours, working in the care, handling, and feeding of animals in an animal care field.

How do I become a zoo keeper assistant? ›

Zookeeper Assistant Qualifications

Candidates can substitute six units of college coursework in biology, zoology, animal science, biology, wildlife management or a related field for three months of the six-month experience requirement.

What should I wear to a zookeeper interview? ›

Wear an outfit that looks pretty nice, but don't go too formal. You should be able to get muddy or hop a fence - just in case. Most of the time you'll know if it's a true working interview, but some interviews will involve a tour, meeting an animal, or other situations where you might get messy.

What job at a zoo pays the most? ›

Zoo Veterinarian

What are the disadvantages of being a zookeeper? ›

The Pros and Cons of Being a Zookeeper
  • You'll probably always work weekends.
  • You don't make much money.
  • You smell within the first half hour of getting to work.
  • Hay will end up everywhere. EVERYWHERE.
  • Inevitably, you will get attached to animals that will either get sent somewhere else, get old or sick, and pass.
12 Mar 2013

What zoo pays zookeepers the most? ›

Top Paying Companies
1El Paso Zoo
7Tulsa Zoo5 open jobs
8Zoo Miami
9Austin Zoo3 open jobs
10Wildlife Conservation Society84 open jobs
5 more rows
13 Dec 2021

Do zookeepers get a lot of money? ›

The salaries of Zookeepers in the US range from $10,240 to $209,552 , with a median salary of $37,730 . The middle 57% of Zookeepers makes between $37,730 and $94,998, with the top 86% making $209,552.

Do you need to be good at math to be a zookeeper? ›

Zookeepers have to use math all the time! They have to weigh the animals, see how long they are, measure out the food they eat and much more. Meet some Erie Zoo animals and learn what tools and measurements are used to measure them.

What do zookeepers do all day? ›

Typically, a zookeeper's day consists of: Cleaning and maintaining animal habitats. Preparing food and feeding animals. Training animals so there can be safe exams and interactions.

How many hours does a zookeeper work a week? ›

They may work alone, or in pairs or teams for some tasks. A zoo keeper's typical working week is 37.5 to 40 hours, and overtime may be available. Part time and seasonal work may be available with some employers. Animals must be cared for every day of the year, so keepers work on a rota to cover all periods.

Are zookeepers in demand? ›

This career path doesn't offer a particularly high salary, but jobs are highly sought due to the unique opportunities and experiences that the field provides. Many zookeepers specialize in a specific area, such as working with birds, big cats, elephants, or aquatic species.

Do zookeepers work everyday? ›

As a zookeeper, you'll need to be prepared to work year-round, and over weekends too. Animals require care and attention every day, including Christmas and other holidays.

Is working at a zoo hard? ›

You should expect strong competition and salaries considered low relative to the level of education necessary to perform them. And these jobs aren't easy. Caring for animals can require around-the-clock attention in some settings. Wildlife biology can involve working outdoors in sometimes difficult field environments.

How long is zookeeper training? ›

The Zookeeper qualification consists of theory and practical training. The theory is studied online from home, at your own pace and with full tutor support. The practical training consists of 1-week training at either: Dartmoor Zoo, Blackpool Zoo, Colchester Zoo, Jimmy's Farm or Wildlife Park.

What does a zookeeper do in the morning? ›

Cleaning and Maintenance

As a zookeeper, this will be a key part of your job and will often be performed early on in your day. This typically includes removing animal waste, taking away uneaten food, changing dirty bed materials, hosing down and scrubbing enclosures.

Can you make a living off being a zookeeper? ›

The average salary for a zookeeper is $14.05 per hour , though salaries range from $7.25 to $34.10 per hour. A zookeeper's wages depend on their education and experience. Those with a higher degree and more experience are likely to make a higher salary.

How many hours do zookeeper work? ›

Zoo keepers generally work eight-hour days and the bulk of the work involved is outside during all weather conditions. The physical tasks usually include lots of walking (up to 10km a day), raking enclosures, shovelling, using wheelbarrows and repetitive lifting.

What grades do you need to be a zookeeper? ›

Entry requirements

You'll usually need: some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship. 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship.

How much does a Disney zookeeper make? ›

Average The Walt Disney Company Zookeeper yearly pay in the United States is approximately $39,922, which is 14% above the national average.

What is a zoo keeper called? ›

“Zoo keeper” is a term used to describe an individual who cares for animals in zoological parks or aquariums, but also encompasses other career titles such as Animal Trainer, Aquarist, Biologist, Aviculturist, Herpetologist, Mammalogist, to name a few.

How do I start working at a zoo? ›

How to get started working for a zoo
  1. Take a course on zoology or animal care. ...
  2. Research the different kinds of animal species at your new workplace. ...
  3. Find a mentorship figure in a coworker or supervisor. ...
  4. Familiarize yourself with zoo safety policies and procedures.

Why do zookeepers wear brown? ›

Khaki first came into use in the British Indian Army in 1868 for its superior practicality in tropical climes, camouflage and hard-wearing properties (its name comes from a Hindi-Urdu word meaning 'soil-coloured').

Can you have tattoos as a zookeeper? ›

Visible tattoos must be discreet at all times. If tattoo(s) are explicit or offensive in nature they must be completely covered.

How much do Disney zookeepers make in an hour? ›

$22. The estimated total pay for a Zookeeper at Disney Parks is $22 per hour. This number represents the median, which is the midpoint of the ranges from our proprietary Total Pay Estimate model and based on salaries collected from our users. The estimated base pay is $21 per hour.

Do zoos make a lot of money? ›

The 215 AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums in the U.S. serve more than 183 million annual visitors and support over 212,000 jobs, generating $24 billion in the total value of goods and services generated directly and indirectly as a result of annual outlays by AZA members and their visitors.

Why do you want to be a zookeeper? ›

For example, you may want to work as a zookeeper because you have an interest in nurturing sick or injured animals, maintaining the well-being of healthy ones or protecting endangered species. You also might want to work as a zookeeper to apply your knowledge, experience, skills or physical abilities.

What days do zookeepers get off? ›

And zookeepers work on weekends, holidays, rainy days, snow days, tornado days, hurricane days, fire days, kids' free day... Yes, that's all the days. That's because, no matter what, animals need to be fed and have their homes cleaned everyday. Human made holidays don't matter, proper care does.

Are zookeepers underpaid? ›

Overall, zookeeping is still a low paying industry, but that doesn't mean that we all can't work to change it.

Is there a difference between a zookeeper and a zoologist? ›

Q: What's the difference between a Zoologist and a Zookeeper? A: Zoologists are more concerned with the research and observation of the animals whereas Zookeepers work with the animals that live in zoos.

What is the best college to go to for zookeeper? ›

Cornell University

Do you need physics for zookeeper? ›

Appropriate coursework teaches physiology, behavior, breeding and nutritional needs of various animals. Upper-level sciences include cell biology, organic chemistry, genetics and physics. Math work in statistics and calculus are often required for degrees.

What training is valuable to be a zookeeper? ›

While employers have different educational requirements for candidates, you typically benefit from a bachelor's degree in zoology, biology, animal science, or wildlife management. Alternatively, you can earn an associate degree, which typically includes more specific biology and zoology coursework.

Do zookeepers work in the winter? ›

Looking around you can tell winter is in full swing at the zoo, but inside zookeepers are hard at work – never a day off. “We are doing today what we do every day,” says Assistant Director of Niabi Zoo, Tammy Schmidt. “We don't have a break, we don't want a break because we're responsible for them.

Is it worth it to be a zookeeper? ›

The job is very rewarding as you care for a variety of animals and some are endangered species. You get to educate the public about many species and hopefully they make a change to their everyday live... You do have to work in all types of weather and we start very early in the morning!

Is it easy to become a zookeeper? ›

Although an associate degree may be adequate, employers usually require a bachelor's degree in animal science, zoology, or any life science. Prior job experience may take the place of education, but positions at higher levels often require 1 to 5 years of job experience and a degree.

Does being a zookeeper pay well? ›

The salaries of Zookeepers in the US range from $10,240 to $209,552 , with a median salary of $37,730 . The middle 57% of Zookeepers makes between $37,730 and $94,998, with the top 86% making $209,552.

How much money does a zookeeper get a day? ›

As of Nov 4, 2022, the average hourly pay for a Zookeeper in the United States is $11.88 an hour. While ZipRecruiter is seeing hourly wages as high as $15.62 and as low as $7.69, the majority of Zookeeper wages currently range between $10.34 (25th percentile) to $12.74 (75th percentile) across the United States.

What zookeepers make the most money? ›

Top companies for Zookeepers in United States
  • Fort Wayne Children's Zoo. 4.0 $107per hour. 46 reviews7 salaries reported.
  • Metro. 3.5 $27.98per hour. ...
  • Woodland Park Zoo. 4.1 $27.55per hour. ...
  • Smithsonian Institution. 4.1 $26.12per hour. ...
  • City and County of Honolulu. 4.2 $25.96per hour. ...
  • Show more companies.

What skills does a zookeeper need? ›

Skills and qualities
  • physical fitness.
  • willingness to work outside in all types of weather.
  • a pleasant manner and good communication skills for dealing with the public.
  • to be polite but firm when enforcing rules, such as preventing people from feeding the animals.

Which is better zoologist or zookeeper? ›

Pro's Answer

A zookeeper for the most part has studied practical animal care while a zoologist has studied the biology, psychology, ecology, and behavior of animals in a lot more depth. Zookeepers are mostly caretakers; zoologists might also work on studying animals more.

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