As a teenager you won't quite be ready for work as a veterinarian -- or even a veterinary technician -- but you still have plenty of opportunities to start working with animals. From working in a pet store or animal shelter to starting your own animal care business, the options available to you can help you make some money and prepare you for an animal-related career later on.
Animal Shelters and Stores
Working in a pet store or at an animal shelter or adoption agency is one way to start working with pets. Pet store jobs are often entry-level, with little to no formal experience required, so they can be good jobs for teens. Working in an animal shelter might require a driver's license, a high school diploma, or prior experience working with animals. Depending on the facility, you may find a job part-time or full-time during the summer months. Both jobs may require animal care, including walking and feeding dogs and cats and cleaning animal living quarters. In a pet store, you may also be responsible for managing a cash register and stocking supplies. Pay may start at minimum wage and go up depending on your experience.
Jobs in Zoos
Most of the jobs caring for animals in a zoo will fall to zoologists, veterinarians, trainers or other animal care specialists, rather than a teen, but that doesn't rule out working in a zoo all together. Teens can find work in the gift shop or the concession stands at zoos and animal parks, as well as work selling tickets, cleaning stalls or acting as an intern or assistant to the professional zoo staff. Since zoos tend to be busier during the summer months, that may be a good time to get hired. Some zoos may also hire weekend and evening staff during the school year, though if you're under age 16, you'll be limited to working only until 7 p.m. during the school year, no matter where you work. Entry-level jobs in zoos pay at or near minimum wage.
Animal Care Businesses
Not every job has to be one that involves working for someone else. Another way to work with animals is to start your own animal care service. That could involve walking dogs, checking in on animals while their owners work, or even doing farm-related chores such as horse grooming or caring for livestock. Since you're essentially creating your own business, the amount you can make will depend on how much you're willing to negotiate with your clients. A typical dog walking service, for example, charges between $10 and $17 per dog, per walk, so there's potential to make a decent wage.
Applying for Jobs
To land a job, demonstrate your experiences working with animals. If you don't have pets of your own, gain experience by caring for your friends and neighbors' pets. Get more experience by volunteering at pet-related events or even at local shelters -- something that can help you get noticed by the hiring managers. Create a resume that lists your contact information at the top, and then a section titled "Skills and Experience." Make a set of bullet points that lists your animal-related experiences, as well as any other experiences necessary for the job. For a job working in the zoo gift shop, for example, you might mention that you've taken advanced math or have worked with cash registers. If you have any prior work experience, list it under the skills and experience section, and include a "References" section that gives the names of people who have seen you working with animals.