Zoo and Aquarium Curators and Directors



Zoos are wild kingdoms, and aquariums are underwater worlds. The word zoo comes from the Greek for living being and is a shortened term for zoological garden or zoological park. This may imply that zoos are created just for beauty and recreation but the main functions of modern zoos are education, conservation, and the study of animals. The term aquarium comes from the Latin for source of water; in such places, living aquatic plants and animals are studied and exhibited. These land and water gardens are te...

Quick Facts


Median Salary



Employment Prospects



Minimum Education Level

Master's Degree



Several years experience as assistant director or curator



Business Management


Personality Traits



Salaries of zoo and aquarium curators and directors vary widely depending on the size and location of the institution, whether it is privately or publicly owned, the size of its endowments and budget, and job responsibilities, educational background, and experience. Generally, zoos and aquariums in metropolitan areas pay higher salaries.

The U.S. Department of Labor reports that the medi...

Work Environment

The work atmosphere for curators and directors of animal facilities will always center on the zoo or aquarium in which they work. Curators spend most of their time indoors at their desks, reading e-mail, talking on the phone, writing reports, meeting deadlines for budgets, planning exhibits, and so forth. Particularly at large institutions, the majority of their time is spent on administrative ...


Only 240 zoos, aquariums, wildlife parks, and oceanariums in the U.S. are accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Considering the number of people interested in animal careers, this is not a large number. Therefore, it is expected that competition for jobs as curators and directors, as well as for most zoo and aquarium jobs, will continue to be very strong.

The employment ou...