Yorkshire Wildlife Park

Blog: do you want to work for a zoo or aquarium?

Posted: 28th April, 2022

Working for zoos and aquariums is a really popular career choice, but did you know there are hundreds of different types of jobs you could choose? BIAZA’s Dr Cerian Tatchley provides the top tips from BIAZA’s new Careers Guide…

In Britain and Ireland, there are more than 400 zoos, safari parks, bird gardens and aquariums open to the public, which employ approximately 3,000 people in full-time positions.

Tip #1 – Understand what roles are out there

Job and career options in zoos and aquariums are very varied so if you want to work in a zoo the first step is to decide what type of career you are interested in.   Animal care is of course a big part of zoo operations and jobs directly involving animal care include zookeeper, aquarist, veterinarian and veterinary nurse, and curator.  There can also be jobs supporting animal care such as registrar, nutritionist, animal welfare officer, zoo researcher and horticulturalist. 

However, there are other career options focus on achieving the key mission aims of zoos and aquariums in conservation, education and research.  These include teachers and educators, presenters, field conservation officers, reserve managers, fundraisers and grant managers, researchers, project managers and research administrators, and more.

There are also different career options that are focused on making zoos and aquariums successful visitor attractions, which in turn provides the resources and opportunities needed to achieve their mission aims, including in the areas of customer service, administration, catering, retail, marketing, communications, HR and management. These are all crucial to the operation of a zoo or aquarium.

If you have a specific role in mind stay open minded about how you will get there – you might position yourself well for different roles by demonstrating your commitment in different roles. Administrative, keeping, volunteering and operational roles can all be potential gateways to each other.

Tip #2 – Where do you want to work?

You may also want to think about what type of zoo or aquarium you would like to work in.  There is a lot of diversity across the sector such as zoo size, charity or private run zoos, specialising in certain taxa such as aquariums, bird of prey centres etc. and this can affect ways of working and the types of roles on offer.  For example, large zoos often have a greater number of specialist roles allowing you to focus on specific career areas while in smaller zoos staff may cover a wider variety of activities within their jobs, allowing you to develop broader experience.

Tip #3 - Stay proactive

Careers in zoos and aquariums are very popular, and competition for jobs is often high.  As well as obtaining relevant qualifications, you will need to be proactive in getting as much work experience as you can to secure your first zoo job.   Continuous Professional Development (CPD) is also very important and will be essential to developing your career.  This can help you give you a competitive edge and make you stand out from other candidates.

Staying proactive can also mean having the strong inter-personal skills to reach out to potential employers, ask them questions and understand what they might be looking for.

Tip #4 - Do your research

Following the above tips to be proactive, understand the roles available in the sector and the types of organisation our there means you’ll already have done some research. Our handy newly updated guide to careers in zoos and aquariums, written with input from experts from across our members, is here to help answer all your questions. The guide provides the links and resources to help you take your first step towards a career in zoos and aquariums.


Despite the challenges of a career in zoos and aquariums, in cannot be denied that it is very rewarding work, knowing that you are contributing to the survival of endangered species.

Want to know more about careers in zoos and aquariums? Read our brand new Careers Guide with advice from across BIAZA Committees and Working Groups for information and guidance on career progression, specific roles, and how to get started.

Check out our current job opportunities

By Dr Cerian Tatchley, Senior Manager at BIAZA

All blogs reflect the views of their author and are not a reflection of BIAZA's positions.

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