In a pet-friendly society, there are many career paths open to those who enjoy spending their days with animals. From veterinarians to dog walkers, animal therapists to trainers, some jobs require extensive education, while others are open to all people who have a love of critters and the ability to take care of animal friends.
Medical Animal Careers
Perhaps the most obvious career path for someone who enjoys working with animals is to become a veterinarian, or animal doctor.
There are less than 30 veterinarian colleges in the United States, according to Talktothevet.com.
Extensive education is required to become a veterinary technician or veterinary assistant, a nurse who helps veterinarians take care of animals. Vet techs, as they are often called, often weigh and measure pets; take their temperatures; dispense medicine; conduct follow-up phone calls with pets' owners and assist in surgery.
Pet-sitting is a great way to earn some extra income. Offering services to people who are traveling for work or pleasure--or for dog owners who must leave their homes for an extensive period each day--assures owners that their pets are safe and well-tended.
Some animals--such as dogs--tend to be more labor-intensive, requiring a pet-sitter to walk, feed, water, play and pick up after them. But the best pet-sitters also spend time with other animals, playing with and talking to cats, birds or rabbits. Depending on the owners' schedule, the enclosure--be it lizard or snake cage, fish tank or gerbil lair--should be cleaned. Water and food bowls should be washed and replenished.
You may also want to investigate becoming licensed and insured, especially as you expand your services to unfamiliar people and homes.
Offering dog-walker services to people who are away from home for several hours at a time can give the owner peace-of-mind and improve the dog's life. If you live in an apartment, you potentially have a ready-made market. Like pet-sitting, you can advertise your dog-walking services via pet-centric businesses such as pet shops, adoption centers or veterinary offices.
Not-for-profit animal shelters and animal-breeders can combine both careers.
Good people skills benefit the organization, the adoptive/for sale pet and the new pet owner. The ability to answer questions accurately and succinctly, manage and input database information, converse on the phone and oversee web, advertising and marketing materials also will further your success on the business and administrative side of the animal career world.
As anyone who has ever encountered a misbehaving dog knows, good training is vital to a pet's well-being.
Animal trainers--who often specialize in a particular type of creature--understand what makes animals tick, and use reward and voice to control pets' naughty urges. Experience is a great teacher, and these trainers leverage their experience to educate successive generations of pets.
Some people choose careers caring for mammals, sea life and other animals that live in zoos and aquariums, such as SeaWorld. These dedicated individuals feed the animals, clean their enclosures and interact with them.
These jobs may require on-the-job experience, but people who have worked with animals in the past could have an edge. Some of these jobs also typically go to those people who have or are earning related college degrees in zoology, biology or other animal-related studies.
There are opportunities in animal research. Behaviorists study animals' behavior for insight into breeding and their habitat. A registrar keeps extensive records of a zoo or aquarium's animal collection, tracking births, deaths, stud frequency and other important events surrounding each creature in the collection.
Geneticists study animals' DNA and genes to support animal breeding and conservation efforts for endangered animals. A research biologist plans studies, conducts them and reports on animals.