An animal psychologist is well versed in the mental life and behavior of animals. He or she can help diagnose animal disorders or point out odd behavior. In many cases, animal psychologists aid in solving or at least relieving the symptoms of certain animal disorders or health problems. Animal psychologists are often employed by zoos and homeowners to solve frustrating animal problems or assess animals' living situations in determining potential problems and stresses. The educational requirements vary greatly depending on job, but some higher education is usually necessary.
Government agencies and companies sometimes employ animal psychologists to examine the effects an external factor has on the natural behaviors of an animal. For example, an organization researching a drug and interested in the effects that drug has on an animal might hire an animal psychologist. In this case, the animal psychologist is tasked with determining how the external factor effects the normal equation. The external factors of concern are not limited to drugs and diseases, however. Organizations are often interested in keeping an eye on certain animal populations to ensure that their behaviors are not outside the norm.
An animal psychologist can work as an animal behavior specialist to solve ordinary house-pet problems. Shy or potentially aggressive dogs, cats with obsessive chewing problems, and similar animal problems are assessed and solved by an animal psychologist. In general, this is one of the less profitable jobs animal psychologists can pursue, unless their efforts land them a television show or work on a movie set. The educational background needed to obtain a job like this varies.
Sometimes an animal psychologist works with a zoo or other institution that houses animals to make sure the animals have healthy environments. For example, pet psychologists are typically versed in what environments are safe and stress-free for certain types of animals. Furthermore, animal psychologists are often tasked with making animal environments more stimulating and healthy for the animals that live in them. This sometimes involves using knowledge of an animal’s natural feeding habits to make feeding the animal more natural within the artificial environment.
The educational requirements to become an animal psychologist often vary based on the specific job a person wishes to perform. An undergraduate degree is sometimes enough to land an animal psychologist job. For the most part, however, jobs in animal psychology require master's or doctorate degrees. Many areas of animal psychology are studied in the field, including several sciences. Comparative psychology, sociology, and zoology are a few of the core areas that future animal psychologists focus on in school.