Careers for Animal Lovers

Jan 19, 2011

If you've had, or wanted to have, a pet, you might have wondered if there's a way to turn your enthusiasm for animals into a career. There are many career paths that can lead to you working with animals. This article gives some examples of the varied jobs that animal lovers can have.

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Veterinarian

Veterinarians are highly trained professionals who work to restore and ensure the health of animals. Most vets work with small animals and house pets, like cats and dogs. Some veterinarians specialize in the care of livestock, while others may focus on marine mammals or zoo animals. If you want to pursue this career, you need to be prepared for a lot of formal education. All states in the U.S. require vets to be licensed, and licensure requires completion of the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.) degree. If you aren't so enthusiastic about school, you might think about one of the other careers on this list.

Animal Control Officer

If you are interested in law enforcement and the care of animals, consider work as an animal control officer. One of the less appealing aspects of this job can be capturing stray animals. However, animal control officers often act as advocates for pets and wildlife. Some of the more humane aspects of this job include investigating animal abuse cases, rescuing pets from neglectful owners and inspecting private kennels to ensure their compliance with pet safety regulations. This job usually requires law enforcement training, but typically doesn't call for more advanced education than a high school diploma.

Animal Trainer

Domesticated animals, particularly working animals like dogs and horses, often require training. There are multiple avenues to pursue within the category of animal training. You can work as a dog trainer for private citizens, focusing on teaching owners how to handle dogs. If you want to work more directly with man's best friend, you can work as a working dog trainer, shaping future seeing eye, police sniffer or search-and-resuce dogs. Horses often require training; you can learn to work with horses intended to work as anything from police animals to a draught workers. You might even be able to become a marine mammal trainer, working for aquatic parks or the military to teach seals and whales how to perform tasks. The level of training required for each of these jobs varies.

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Zookeeper

If domesticated animals are a little too tame for you, you might want to become a zookeeper. Zookeepers typically need a college degree, and they tend to study subjects like biology and animal health. As a zookeeper, you will be responsible for monitoring the daily health and well-being of zoo animals. Keepers typically aren't directly responsible for the treatment of health problems in zoo animals - that is typically a zoo veterinarian's job. Typical zookeeper activities include feeding animals and cleaning their enclosures and educating zoo visitors about animals. These professionals may also be involved with research or conservation activism.

Pet Store Owner

Pet store owners function much like other small business owners. The main difference is that their daily tasks center around pets. If you choose this career path, you should be prepared to interact with people and act as a responsible business owner. You may need to keep track of your store's finances and inventory, oversee employees, promote your business and ensure customer satisfaction. There are other small businesses that pet lovers can start, including pet grooming, boarding, sitting and walking services.

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