Can I Be A Cryptozoologist?

Posted by: Loren Coleman on January 24th, 2007

The most frequent question I get from young people, especially high schoolers thinking about careers and colleges, many of whom have read Cryptozoology A to Z, is “How can I be a cryptozoologist?”

I individualize my replies, of course, to whatever local or burning issue might be at hand, but there are some standard realities that I always pass along. The elements of what I email in my responses go something like this:

Dear Student: I hope you find a way to follow your interest in cryptozoology. So you want to go to college to “be a cryptozoologist.” Great. You have to choose a good college, in general, that will focus your interests and be high quality itself in doing research, study, and scholarship on the specific topic or cryptid that excites you so you may then apply that coursework or fieldwork to your special cryptozoological view of the animal world.

There are several ways you can prepare to be a scientist with a cryptozoological interest. (Actually being a “cryptozoologist” is so rare as to be almost as infrequent as seeing a Yeti. There are no jobs, per se, in cryptozoology, really, other than writing and blogging. Only a handful of people in the world actually are free-standing cryptozoologists.) In high school, any of the following will assist with having a vocation related to or specifically one that enhances your interests in cryptozoology: biology, human anatomy, zoology, anthropology, psychology (for interviewing), criminal investigations, and so forth. You also need to be a good communicator, so take writing or English classes where papers are written. Then you can build on those courses and grades to assist you to get into college.

Before college, the best way to follow a passion, for example, in the Loch Ness Monster is to study hard, and stay on track to get into a college by taking high school classes on environmental studies, biology, or aquatic studies (if offered). In high school, if you want to learn more about Bigfoot, take courses in biology, zoology, anthropology, and psychology. You have to creatively link your favorite cryptid with the related areas of study, because, frankly, no one has courses on the Death Worm of Mongolia or Mothman or Thylacines in high school.

It is the same once you are in college. Sadly, however, in 99.9% of colleges and universities, there is no coursework in cryptozoology. Some professor may, once in a blue moon, offer a semester’s elective about the subject, but that is a rarity. There are no higher educational institutions with departments in cryptozoology or doing anything special with cryptozoology. You have to focus on the classes and areas of research related to the cryptids you like to study.

With your parents or a guidance counselor at your high school, you can ask about what good universities exist in your state or other locations where you want to attend college, which have outstanding biology or zoology departments for general cryptozoology interests, aquatic studies or marine science departments for lake/sea monster work, and anthropology departments for Bigfoot and hominology research and fieldwork.

You also might wish to think about working or volunteering at a zoo or an aquarium when you can, in high school, if you have one nearby. (Right now, there is only one International Cryptozoology Museum in the world, so there is not too much employment in the museum field – yet.) You can research online those places near your home to visit and ask to volunteer or obtain employment. Or if you are in a more rural location, you might wish to explore mentoring in a wildlife studies program, at a nature center, on a farm, or with a vet where you could learn more about animals, in general.

Loren Coleman. Photo by Greta Rybus.

Whatever you decide, keeping your passion alive about cryptozoology could lead to some wonderful discoveries in the animal world, and in yourself. Good luck.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

17 Responses to “Can I Be A Cryptozoologist?”

  1. DreamKeeper responds:

    Yeah, this is why I’m not going to try looking into a cryptozoology field of work. It just seems too hard, and there really aren’t any actual ‘jobs’ out there to apply for. If anything, I’ll just study cryptozoology on the side, but not make it into a career.

  2. Al responds:

    Loren gives a very candid answer to the question.

    I would submit that there are several different levels of cryptozoology.

    The most common is the person who reads about the various cryptids and haunts message boards. Many of these claim to be cryptozoologists, when all they actually do is spread rumor, inuendo, and misinformation, while denigrating those who actually “do the work”. This type is more commonly known as the gossip.

    The next level is the Academian. Although they do not actually go out and pursue cryptids, they do formulate theories, try to compile data provided by others, and sincerely attempt to be a contributor to the field.

    Next comes the Leech. This is a person who tries to profit from the work of the real researchers and academians. They are also the folks who profit from selling “Bigfoot Outings” or “Expeditions”. They provide misinformation, and encourage people to quiver when they hear an owl in the wilds of a Wal-Mart parking lot.

    The real researchers, the true investigators are not seen much in the public venue. They are often barred from message boards, forums, and rarely make presentations at conferences. They are willing to share what they know, have seen, have heard, and suspect with others. Others will then claim credit for the work.

    That’s probably why there are no paying jobs in the field of Cryptozoology.

  3. DWA responds:

    Thanks, AI. I sound like an Academian (without portfolio).

    Some of us are just interested in the discovery, contribute thought as to the path to travel, and don’t give a damn who gets the credit.

    That having been said: Sure you can be a crypto, son! Learn how to live off the land, so at least somebody can be in the field full time looking for the sasquatch. You’ll need to save enough for a combo still/video camera.

    Just a thought. 🙂

  4. kittenz responds:

    “That having been said: Sure you can be a crypto, son!”

    Don’t forget that some of those bright-eyed eager crypto-wannabes are DAUGHTERS lol!

  5. DWA responds:

    Point taken.

    If you’re in the field full time, I promise not to care about your sex. (I may be beyond caring about your SPECIES LOL.)

  6. Al responds:

    Y’all are absolutely correct. I will add though, that it can become a very costly obsession. The time and expenses are not reimbursed by anyone, and in spite of what a lot of quote “experts” unquote say, there is no money to be made in the actual verification of the existence of an animal. No one gets rich doing this. Now, maybe a couple of dollars for the movie rights will be in the offing, but the discovery itself won’t cover any of the expense. But if you stick to it, and go where the animals are. What a rush! 🙂

  7. Alton Higgins responds:

    While I was with the BFRO, a teenager contacted us wanting to know what he needed to do to work in the bigfoot field, a question asked by many young people, as has been stated.

    Dr. LeRoy Fish, now deceased, encouraged the would-be investigator to attend an undergraduate program in Biology, Anthropology, or Wildlife. He added, “My choice would be Idaho State University. Link up with Dr. Jeffrey Meldrum, become his star student, work in his laboratory and assist in the museum. Then go to the University of Idaho for a graduate degree in Wildlife Biology at the Laboratory for Ecological and Conservation Genetics. Study non-invasive bear detection techniques with Dr. Lisette Waits using DNA forensic methods as applied to large mammals. By then you will be well prepared.”

    Sounds like fun. Oh, to be young again!

  8. BugMO responds:

    While in my finale year of High School I tried to take as many classes as I could that were related to cryptozoology, like zoology. Because I wanted to go to college to become a cryptozoologist, but none of the schools that I looked in to wouldn’t give me any special help that I would need for school, I have ADD and I’m learning disabled which makes it very difficult for me in school just taking normal classes so you can imagine how hard it would be for me to take college classes. So, I decided I would go to college to become a digital animator and I’m a freshman in college now.

    Cryptozoology is still a big part of my life and I plan to continue my interest in cryptozoology for the rest of my life. I’ve been interested in cryptozoology for at least six years now and I’ve bought as many books on the subject as I can.

    I guess what I trying to say is: Am I a cryptozoologist? Even if I haven’t gone to college to become a cryptozoologist?

  9. a_welch90 responds:

    Loren, Thanks for the info. I’ve read Cryptozoology A to Z and I think that its a great thing for anyone with an interest in Cryptids to take a look at. I’m in the oh-so-wonderful school system right now, and I want my bill-paying career to be in another field, while having an educated interest in Cryptozoology. Thanks for the information Loren.

  10. youcantryreachingme responds:

    Whilst it’s not a profession for me – always an interest – here are a couple of other thoughts.

    Read books. Not just the internet.

    If you want to get out there and research stuff, you could opt for endangered species. Whilst for some people this lacks the glory of discovering something as yet undescribed, such as providing irrefutable proof of bigfoot, it is no less important.

    For example, the Eastern Quoll has not been verifiably seen on mainland Australia since 1963. However, a number of people have reported sighting it (although it may easily be confused with the tiger quoll especially if you are not familiar with the animals) – most recently in October last year about 1 hour’s drive from my home.

    So I go out there and look. I read up on the species. It’s rediscovery does fall into cryptozoological circles – as much as the ivory billed woodpecker’s reappearance would, or the thylacine’s – and it has very real benefits to both the species and humankind to be given another chance to preserve it.

    This is one reason I really like Steve Irwin’s Crocodile Hunter shows – they get you up close and personal with some really endangered wildlife (see the Australian red-centre episode, for example) in the hopes of motivating more people to care enough to take some action.

    Of course, a lot of my conservation ideals are well fleshed out at – but as relates to this article here, read books, and consider conservation of endangered species as a viable route to “cryptozoological” employment – in which case biology degrees are paramount.

    (PS… Hi Alton – just realised that’s the same advice you gave. “Oh to be young again”… try “Oh to be young forever!!!” 😀 )


  11. youcantryreachingme responds:

    PS… If I’m out there working in the field looking for Eastern Quolls (ideally, paid), then I’m also out there in viable thylacine habitat, keeping my eyes open! 😉

  12. ladd responds:

    Loren gives the best advice and guidelines for the “Can I be a Cryptozoologist?” query especially since he’s been there and done it. Follow those and you can’t go wrong. The late great Steve Irwin said it simply, “Whatever you want to do in this world is achievable. The most important thing that I’d found that perhaps you could use is to be passionate and enthusiastic in the direction you choose in life and you’ll be a winner.”

  13. harmfulguy responds:

    Dammit, where were you 25-30 years ago? My parents still laugh about how I used to want to be a “monsterologist”. Is it my fault that I didn’t even know the proper name for the field?

  14. kittenz responds:

    I would suggest:

    Above all, keep an open mind.

    Learn as much as you can about animals. Living species, extinct species, prehistoric species, proposed species, cryptic species. STUDY and think for yourself. Don’t just take anybody’s word for anything. Respect the authorities but don’t follow them blindly.

    Don’t stop with animals. Learn about plants. About geology. And climate. About everything within the natural world and how those natural processes interact and affect living things.

    Never stop learning. Allow yourself to accumulate an internal knowledge database from which to draw your own conclusions. Allow yourself to be flexible and realize that no matter how much knowledge you acquire, there will always be someone, somewhere, who knows more than you do and from whom you can learn.

    Never say “I can’t do that” unless you have first tried. Accept your limitations but acknowlege your strengths. Let your life be a continuous adventure.

    No matter what your job is, enjoy it. Not everyone can have a glamorous occupation, but everyone can enjoy the view of their own inner vistas.

    Nobody is ever gonna get rich being a cryptozoologist. Heck, very few people ever get rich being zoologists or any other kind of scientist for that matter. Many people do not get rich doing the thing they love, and most people end up pursuing their passionate interests more as serious hobbies than as professions, at least in the beginning. The real wealth that you acquire from the pursuit of your interests is the satisfaction that you get from it.

  15. mystery_man responds:

    I think that continued learning is very important. I would say that becoming a cryptozoologist is a lifetime pursuit. There is no point where you say, “I’ve learned enough now, I am a cryptozoologist now”, but rather it is something that is constantly evolving and growing. I think what Kittenz said is very important, that you need to have an open mind and you have to be able to realize that nobody is omnipotent, that there are always people that you can learn from. I think that it is also important to realize that you are not going to be right all the time and be prepared to accept that sometimes you are going to be flat out wrong. There should be an ability to accept your knowledge may not always be supreme. I think with cryptozoology, there has to be a willingness to share ideas and theories without holding on too strongly to one idea or the other because it may prove false. There has to be a lot of flexibility. So in the end, I think it is not only the amount of knowledge you accumulate, but also how you wield that knowledge, how you approach that knowledge, and how you interact with others.

  16. TheForthcoming responds:

    Another great article Loren and thanks for the advice!

    I am studying Zoology, Biology, Criminology and Anthropology on my own via books such as The For Dummies Book Series. (Geez I wish you could write a For Dummies guide someday on Cryptozoology, that would be neat!)

    I will take a college class at my community college. I go to off and on (MVCC in Palos Hills, IL) in Anthropology, Psychology and maybe Biology. (I really want to be a 9/11 operator, security guard or EMT but this would help one of the hobbies I’ve always loved)

    Thanks again and keep up the excellent work and articles here on Cryptomundo Loren. 🙂

  17. Steve Byrne responds:

    As a cryptozoologist, as soon as you find what you’re looking for, you aren’t a cryptozoologist anymore. You’re a zoologist with in a marketing job.

    I would say follow your path and study crypto on the side. If you’re already inclined towards biology, zoology, or veterinary medicine, that’s great. If you’re a writer, business major, marketing, engineering or whatever and that’s who you are, you should pursue that and see how it may apply to the field a little later. I’m a mechanical engineer, and find myself in a very relevant position to make contributions through my own skills, in my own ways. Serious research endeavors may require all the skills mentioned above and many others.

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