You haven’t touched an animal product or byproduct in so long you can’t remember how they taste. You can’t help but stop to pet every doggo and pupper you see, and you are your neighborhood’s resident cat lady, with enough humane traps to TNR every feral kitty in the state. Animals are your passion — and it’s time to make them your career. Here are a handful of careers that put in you direct contact with furry friends, so you can enjoy the warm, fuzzy feeling of helping an animal while getting paid.
As any animal lover knows, a vet is a doctor to animals. Vets concern themselves with the health and well-being of animals, which in practice means they examine animals for signs if poor health, administer vaccinations and treatments and educate owners on proper care.
Just as physicians must endure years and years of education and training, veterinarians must also devote additional time and energy to learning animal medicine. Vet school is a four-year doctorate program that follows a bachelor’s degree program and that teaches animal anatomy, nutrition, virology and similar subjects. You are well-suited to a veterinary career track if you don’t mind returning to school for several years and have a deep interest in science and medicine.
An alternative career path to veterinary medicine is veterinary assistantship, which requires less training and less responsibility. Vet assistants often manage veterinary offices, maintaining patient records and keeping waiting and exam rooms clean and orderly. Vet assistants also help vets care for animals by administering rudimentary tests or preparing tools and equipment for use.
Though many states do not have education or licensing requirements for vet assistants, most veterinary offices prefer assistants who have certifications in the field. Fortunately, you can take animal care courses online to qualify for this beneficial and meaningful career.
If animals could talk, they wouldn’t be nearly as cute, but we might better understand their needs and wants. Until someone invents a bark-to-speech translator, most animal lovers must rely on animal psychologists, who are experts in animal behavior. Often, animal psychologists work in zoos to ensure that animals are mentally healthy and well-cared-for, but more and more pet-owners are seeking advice from animal psychologists to keep their furry friends content.
Most animal psychologists have advanced degrees in biology, zoology or a related field, and these are necessary to perform academic research or find employment at a well-regarded institution like a state or municipal zoo. However, you might be able to find private clients with little more than a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field.
If working with exotic animals is your calling, you should seriously consider becoming a zookeeper. Zookeepers take responsibility for animals in zoos, which often means feeding, cleaning and otherwise caring for the creatures kept in captivity. Often, zookeepers also monitor the health of their wards, notifying veterinarians if conditions arise.
Zookeepers don’t need more than a bachelor’s degree to find employment, but your degree should be in a field such as zoology, biology, ecology or environmental studies. More important to your career is finding beginner experience at a zoo or similar park. You should consider volunteering at your local zoo during your college experience, so you can form relationships with zookeepers and gain preference when you enter the job market.
Whether for the Big Screen, for police work or for everyday life in a home, animals often need rigorous training. Animal training is among the most important and hands-on animal care jobs. For one, animal trainers give animals a sense of purpose; for another, training can provide a greater, more meaningful connection between owner and pet.
There isn’t a straightforward career path into animal training; suffice it to say that if you have a talent getting animals to understand and follow commands, you will do well in this career. You should choose a type of training and animal to specialize in — i.e. seeing-eye dog training vs. training bears for TV and movies. Then, you should start looking for clients or marketing your work online and in your area.
Too often, animals are subjected to horrific mistreatment and suffer horribly at the hands of people. Humane educators work to end the cruel treatment of animals by informing the public about animal care and encouraging pet owners and others to treat their furry friends with respect.
Like animal trainers, humane educators often lack traditional credentials. Instead, you should have plenty of experience helping at-risk animals, such as orphaned babies or abused pets. You should join humane organizations and create online content to engage audiences with your humane message.