In biology, animals are defined as multicellular, eukaryotic organisms, the vast majority of which consume organic material, breathe oxygen, can move, and reproduce sexually. This definition encompasses an incredibly wide range of animals both familiar and unfamiliar, from dogs, cats, horses, and cows to the world of insects and alien-seeming undersea creatures. Whether they are offering companionship, inspiring wonder, providing food, or playing an essential role in the ecological systems we depend on, animals are more than important - it’s impossible to imagine human society without them.
Taking care of our animal partners in society requires a keen understanding of their biology and behavior as well as attention to animal welfare. Animal welfare is typically defined according to “The Five Freedoms”: freedom from hunger and thirst through proper nutrition, freedom from discomfort through the provision of adequate shelter, freedom from pain, injury, and disease, freedom to express normal behavior (e.g. chickens roosting), and freedom from fear and distress.
Everyone loves animals, but if you are especially fascinated by animal behavior and passionate about animal welfare, you can pursue a veterinary career. Veterinarians are responsible for ensuring animals under their care receive adequate nutrition as well as treatment of injuries and disease control, and they must receive a doctorate in veterinary medicine as well as a state license to practice.
These highly educated experts in animal care typically work in private clinics, zoos, or farms, and demand for their services is expected to grow rapidly. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, veterinarians earned a median annual salary of $95,460 in 2019.
Yes! Whether you’re interested in learning about dogs and cats, cows, horses, insects, or other animals, Coursera has engaging courses and Specializations spanning multiple courses to fit your needs. You can learn from top-ranked schools like the University of Edinburgh, Duke University, University of Colorado Boulder, and Pennsylvania State University. And since you can learn remotely on a flexible schedule, Coursera makes it easy to deepen your education about these fascinating creatures as part of your existing work or family life.
The skills or experience you may already need to have before studying about animals include an understanding of basic animal care. If you have any experience with an animal caretaking role in a veterinary facility, shelter, sanctuary, farm, or pet retail environment, you may have the skills necessary for more advanced studies about animals. If you have soft skills of having compassion and empathy for animals, you may already be ready to study the subject.
Learning about animals may be right for you if you’re comfortable learning about the many evolving aspects of animals in society. Studying animals may be right for you if you are eager to learn about animal psychology, behavior, and behavioral problems, diagnosis, and treatment. It may benefit you to learn about animals if you have an interest in livestock production and management, livestock disease control, rampant animal abuse, the human-animal relationship, human-wildlife conflicts, or animal welfare of domesticated, farmed, and captive animals.
Types of places that may hire people with a background in animals include health care facilities such as veterinary offices, equestrian facilities, aquariums, and zoos that care for, rehabilitate, or train all types of animals. Also, the types of places that hire people who have studied animals include government or private research institutions that hire people for positions in wildlife management, conservation, and the support of endangered species. Another type of place that may hire people who work on behalf of animal welfare can range from farms and pet food manufacturers to local animal control departments and other public health agencies.
There are many topics to study that are related to animals, such as ecology, which impacts animals living in the wilderness and other ecosystems. Another topic related to animals you can study is farming for a sustainable future which includes the management of livestock and dairy production, and pasture management.
This FAQ content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.