Tracking Pixel

Jefferson Community College Website

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

For an overview of the program that will answer most questions, please follow this link:  Is Zoo Technology the right program for you?


Why should I choose SUNY Jefferson?

Zoo Technology at State University of New York (SUNY) - Jefferson Community College is a unique, affordable college degree program that provides a combination of academic and hands-on experience.  JCC partners with several progressive zoos to give students a broad perspective of the zoo field.  It’s fun too!

There are only a handful of schools that offer focused zookeeper training as part of a recognized 2-year Associates of Applied Science Degree. This program is primarily focused on the careers of zookeeper and zoo interpreter/educator; although the training will also be of value to students entering other animal fields.

The cost of college is a major concern to most students. JCC is proud to be the most affordable choice in the North Country.  Financial support is also available and we encourage you to apply.

Located just 30 minutes south of the Canadian Border, JCC is within hours of Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited zoos in Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, Toronto, Montreal, and Binghamton. During the course of the program, students will experience many of these zoos.

Jefferson Community College is also located only minutes away from the Army's Fort Drum. This military base is home of the 10th Mountain Division (light infantry). Both Jefferson Community College and the Greater Watertown area provide a very supportive environment for military families.

JCC is a great way to start or finish your academic career. We often have students join Zoo Technology after completing a 4-yr bachelor’s degree or start their academic career with us before transferring to schools such as Syracuse’s school of Environmental Science and Forestry or veterinary technician programs (if focused to zoo veterinary technician work).

JCC’s Zoo Technology program provides the opportunity to work directly with not only zookeepers, but also curators and directors. During the program, JCC’s faculty develop individual relationships with each of the students and have a great desire to see students succeed. The faculty include two biology PhDs and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM).

How much is tuition?

Jefferson offers a quality education and affordable tuition. It is proud to have one of the lowest tuitions of the SUNY colleges. The cost of attending Jefferson, including tuition, fees, and books, is approximately $3600 per year. Over 85% of our students receive financial assistance! Students are encouraged to apply.

Housing?  I am not from Watertown.  Does Jefferson have residence halls?

Jefferson is building a brand new residence hall on campus that will be open for the Fall 2014 semester and available for full-time students who are enrolled in a degree program. Prospective students can apply for housing after applying for admission to Jefferson.

What do I need to become a zoo keeper?

Passion is, perhaps, the most important attribute for a career working with animals. However, you will also need a combination of animal care experience and a formal education.

To gain experience, consider volunteering at your local zoo, farm, or animal shelter. It is never too early to start. Many places rely on volunteers to operate and will welcome assistance. While helping them, you are also gaining experience, building your resume, and establishing professional references.

Different zoos have different criteria for employee education when hiring. Some prefer 4-year degrees, while others prefer practical 2-year degrees, like those offered by JCC. Our program is an excellent way to gain hands-on experience and begin your education. We encourage our students to consider transfer to 4-year colleges for biology or zoo-related degrees. To get the best zookeeping positions and progress up the zoo’s hierarchy to become curator or director, a 4-year bachelors' degree is recommended.

What are the Zoo Technology “clinicals”?

The clinical portion of the program is the applied animal keeping portion.  It is designed to provide students with broad practical experience and unique learning opportunities within the zoo and aquarium field. Much of the program’s applied zoo animal management training is based at Syracuse ’s Rosamond Gifford Zoo and The New York State Zoo at Thompson Park, Watertown’s zoological park. Students will have the opportunity to visit and gain experience at other animal facilities as well. Clinical courses are designed to function as a hands-on workplace assignment in conjunction with traditional forms of instruction. As such, these courses will require the same dedication and hard work that would be required in other job positions.  Emphasis is placed on professionalism and teamwork, and students will receive program-wide performance evaluations in the same way that zoo employees do.

Does JCC provide transportation to Syracuse for clinical classes?

Yes, Jefferson provides transportation to Syracuse on clinical rotation days. Students must meet on campus by the designated departure time.  Students must provide their own transportation or carpool to classes in the greater Watertown area. 

Are courses offered online?

We offer a variety of online courses including some general education courses that are required for the Zoo Technology program.  However, our zoo-specific courses are not offered online because they rely on in-person communication and team-based hands-on experience that cannot be replicated in the online environment.