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Important Steps to Animal Care Careers with a Bachelors Degree

Take the right courses, besides typical PSY courses (Intro, Research Methods, Stats)
  • Animal Behavior
  • Learning
  • Comparative Psychology
  • Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuroscience
  • Lab course in Animal Behavior, Learning, or Physiological Psychology
  • Seminar in Animal Behavior, Learning, or Physiological Psychology
It is critical to do well in your courses.
  • Overall GPA.
  • Psychology GPA minor (if you have one).
  • GPA last two years in college GPA.
  • Maintaining a high GPA from your freshman year on
  • If you do not get an A or B in a course you should probably repeat the course, especially if it was a Psychology course.
Get involved in research
  • Get involved in animal research.
  • Get even more involved in research by doing a Senior Honors thesis or some other research where you can get your name on a conference presentation or journal publication. This kind of recognition is rare for an undergraduate and will really boost your standing when you apply for a job.
  • You can get involved in research as part of Independent study course and thus earn credit hours and possibly increase your GPA if it counts as a graded course or volunteer.
  • An advantage to working in a lab is that you get to know a faculty member who can write you a strong letter of recommendation when you are ready to apply for jobs. Given you need more than one letter of recommendation, it is probably best to work in two different labs as an undergraduate.
Do an animal-related internship
  • By doing an internship you can again show your high level of motivation for a job.
  • This internship can be with an on-campus company/organization or off-campus company/organization dealing with animals.
Develop critical skills
  • There are a number of skills you can develop in addition to what you learn in classes and by conducting research-- computers, writing, and oral communication skills.
Get involved in extracurricular activities where you are working with animals
  • Among others, you can volunteer at an animal shelter animal clinic, or a setting that involves sick or infirmed animals.
  • This involvement demonstrates a high level of motivation and interest in animals. Any involvement just adds to your overall record and makes you a more competitive applicant.
Be active in Psychology organizations
  • This can include Psi Chi (the National Honor Society In Psychology) or any Psychology club on campus.
  • Once again, this involvement demonstrates a high level of motivation and interest in Psychology. Any involvement just adds to your overall record and makes you a more competitive applicant.
Get work experience related to your area of interest if you can.
  • It is not critical that you are employed in an area related to your interests (such as those listed above) as an undergraduate, but if you can get such a job that is a real bonus.
Interact with your Professors
  • It is very important that you start to interact with Professors right away. This can occur by making contributions in class or just going up to your Professors and having a conversation about issues in the field.
  • These interactions can lead to being able to work in a Professor’s research lab, hearing about job opening that may be available in the Psychology department, and a letter of recommendation.
  • Remember, if a faculty member does not really know you or had you in one class, there is a lower likelihood that the Professor will agree to write a letter for you or knows you well enough to write a letter.
  • There are two important things to keep in mind with regard to letters of recommendation. First, a short letter of recommendation from a faculty member who does not know you well can sometimes be worse than no letter at all. Second, It is almost always better to have a letter of recommendation from a full-time Professor than an Instructor. For better or worse, the latter simply has higher status than the latter.