There are many things you can do which involve working with primates. You can be an animal caretaker, an university professor, a zoo director, a field researcher, a curator of a primate house, an editor of a primate newsletter, etc. Whatever you choose to do, primatology is a competitive field, and you will have to be well-prepared.
Many colleges and universities in the United States offer courses in primatology. While some institutions specialize in this area, very few have specific programs which lead to degrees in primatology. Instead, students often take degrees in related fields, such as anthropology, psychology, zoology, or veterinary medicine. People planning careers in basic or biomedical research frequently study neurobiology, reproductive physiology, or other medical disciplines. Examining the Careers webpages in the Choosing a Career in Primatology section of the Careers Home Page might give you some idea of the wide range of careers in the field.
Many resources are available to help you select an educational program. First, you may wish to peruse the lists of undergraduate and graduate primatology programs on PIN's Directory of Education Programs page. In choosing a program, consider the resources in primatology available at an institution, the background of the faculty, and the range of courses offered. You may see course syllabi from various schools to get a feel for what a primatology course entails.
If you have a specific institution in mind, you can visit the web site of that particular school to see what kinds of primatological study it offers. An index to college and university websites can be found at: http://www.qucis.queensu.ca/FAQs/email/colidx.html. Frequently, these web sites list departmental faculty, courses, requirements, class schedules, and even contact information. Remember that given the wide range of disciplines within primatology you might have to be creative in seeking out resources at a particular school. Contact the admissions office at those schools for help in this matter.
Not every primatologist enters the field through a traditional academic path. Professional positions in primatology do exist which do not require an advanced degree. Many organizations, zoos or sanctuaries, for example, offer educational or other programs which can provide a route to a career in primatology. You can view listings of such programs under the "Other Education Programs" heading on the Directory of Education Programs page. If you find a listing that sounds promising, you should spend time researching the particular organization offering the program.
You may want to talk to someone currently working with primates who holds a position similar to one that you would hope to have eventually. Consult the PIN Careers section Making Contacts in the Field of Primatology for suggestions on how to approach this path.
Two professional societies, the International Primatological Society (IPS)
and the American Society of Primatologists (ASP) both have education committees
which may provide additional suggestions.
Internet Services Coordinator
WRPRC Library and Information Service
Wisconsin Regional Primate Research Center
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Submit a question about Careers in Primatology
Maintained by the WRPRC Library.
Supported by NCRR Grants RR00167 and RR15311.
Last updated: February 9, 2004.
Return to Careers in Primatology
Return to PIN Home Page