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Careers in Animal Rights: Job Options and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to work in a position involving animal rights. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and prospects to find out if this is the career for you.

Essential Information

Careers in animal rights are spread across many fields. Lawyers, veterinarians, writers and graphic designers have all used their skills to advocate for animal rights. Many animal rights careers are with non-profit groups, since much of the work for animal rights is done through these organizations.

Career Veterinarians Animal Control Workers Farmers, Ranchers, and Other Agricultural Managers
Required Education Doctor of Veterinary Medicine High school diploma None typically required
Other Requirements State licensure and passage of the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination Certifications for specific careers, like dog trainers and marine animal workers, are available. Undergraduate degrees are increasingly common.
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 9% 11% (for animal care and service workers) 2%
Median Salary (2014)* $87,590 $32,560 $68,050

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

Careers involving animal rights, or animal welfare, cover a broad spectrum. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) notes that those who want to work for animal rights may work in such positions as lawyers, veterinarians or animal control officers (www.aspca.org). Animal rights activists can also find additional opportunities as lobbyists, humane educators, animal therapists and humane law enforcement workers. Humane associations across the country have a need for workers; however, many positions may be on a volunteer basis.

Those interested in animal rights may also find creative ways to advocate for animals as writers or graphic designers. Writers and designers may develop press releases about animal rights issues or content for brochures, Web pages and blogs. Outreach position titles include researcher and animal abuse investigator.

A host of organizations exist to fight for animal rights. These organizations, like any business or other organization, have day-to-day operation needs. Many of them offer employment in areas including accounting, marketing, corporate relations, development, and reception.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) offers a list of employment and internship opportunities at law firms and non-profit organizations (www.aldf.org). The Center for Animal Law Studies, in collaboration with the ALDF, offers both legal and employment resources.

Veterinarians

Vets are doctors who provide medical care to animals. In addition to going through the same training as a doctor with human patients, veterinarians are trained to balance the needs of their animal patients with the wishes of human clients.

The job outlook for veterinarians, according to the BLS, is 9% between 2014 and 2024. The median salary for veterinarian jobs was $87,590 in 2014.

Animal Control Workers

Animal care and service jobs are entry-level and usually only require a high school diploma or equivalent. These workers are employed in zoos, pet stores, training centers, to name a few options.

The BLS reports that animal control workers earned a median salary of $32,560 in 2014. Between 2014 and 2024, animal care and support positions are expected to increase by 11%.

Farmers, Ranchers, and Other Agricultural Managers

Managers of farms and ranches must be knowledgeable of animal safety practices. Though many of these careers require only hands-on training as many people are born into farming families, degrees are offered in agricultural management in schools across the country. These programs typically include courses on animal rights.

As of 2014, the BLS has determined that the median salary for these workers is $68,050. Positions in this field are expected to decrease by 2% between 2014 and 2024.

Job Requirements for Working for Animal Rights

Requirements for animal rights positions will depend greatly on the specific job. General requirements will, however, include a love of animals, and in many cases, a willingness to work for lower pay. Most positions in animal rights will be with non-profit organizations.

The ASPCA details more specific job requirements for certain animal rights careers, depending on the particular career path. The ASPCA job listings indicate that employers in animal rights organizations who are hiring to fill business-related positions, such as accounting and marketing, prefer applicants with a college degree.

Positions working directly with animals will most likely require a degree in biology, animal science, zoology or a related field. When applying for design and writing positions, applicants may find that a portfolio showcasing their work and abilities is helpful.

More advanced careers involving animal advocacy, such as a being a veterinarian or animal rights lawyer, will require a graduate degree and licensure.

Career and Salary Information for Other Careers

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects that lawyers will see 6% job growth from 2014-2024; the agency reports that lawyers earned a median salary of $114,970 in 2014 (www.bls.gov).

Writers are expected to see slower-than-average job growth from 2014-2024, according to the BLS, an increase of 2%. The median salary for writers in 2014 was $58,850. Graphic designer jobs are predicted to increase by only 1% from 2014-2024, and the median salary for jobs in this field was $45,900 in 2014.

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