Careers in Animal Advocacy: Job Options and Requirements

A career in animal advocacy requires different levels of education. Learn about the types of degrees and license requirements, as well as job duties to see if an occupation in animal advocacy is for you.

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When choosing a career in animal advocacy, there are many different paths to choose from that spread across a few different industries. From choosing a medical route as a veterinarian to a legal route as a lawyer, animal advocates work for the protection and care of animals. Degree requirements vary depending on the career, but, in most cases, some form of a license is needed to work.

Essential Information

Job options range from caring for abandoned pets in shelters to managing large advocacy organizations. While requirements for these jobs are varied, some animal advocacy groups recommend that those who aspire to a career in animal advocacy get their start by volunteering in a local shelter or with an animal welfare group. The educational preparation necessary for other animal advocacy occupations consists of on-the-job training, completing a police academy program, or obtaining a law or master's degree.

Careers Veterinarian Veterinary Technician Veterinary Technologist Lawyer Lobbyist General Manager Animal Care Worker Animal Control Officer
Required Education Doctor of Veterinary Medicine bachelor's degree associate's degree bachelor's degree, law school degree bachelor's degree bachelor's degree high school diploma high school diploma, bachelor's degree
Other Requirements license license or certification varies by state license or certification varies by state license internship master's degree in business administration for advancement training program graduate from police academy, driver's license
Projected Job Growth (2014 - 2024)* 9% 19% 19% 6% 6% for all public relations specialists 7% for all general and operations managers 11% 4% for all protective service occupations
Median Annual Salary (2015)* $88,490 $31,800 $31,800 $115,820 $56,700 for all public relations specialists $97,730 for all general and operations managers $21,260 $33,450 for all animal control workers

Source: *Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Career Options

Those who want to devote their lives to the protection and care of animals have several career options from which to choose. If you love animals and demonstrate compassion, leadership and excellent communication skills, you are a good fit for a job as an animal health worker, legal and social advocate, animal care worker, or animal control officer.

Animal Health Worker

Veterinarians and veterinary technicians and technologists provide healthcare services to animals. A veterinary technician or technologist assists the veterinarian by performing tests, taking vital signs and monitoring the condition of animal patients. Veterinarians can diagnose conditions, prescribe medications, administer treatments and perform surgery on animals.

Veterinarians must hold a doctoral-level degree before they can receive a license to practice, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( Veterinary technicians typically need an associate's degree from a community college in veterinary technology, whereas a veterinary technologist must earn a bachelor's degree in the same subject matter.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that the number of jobs for veterinarians will increase 9% from 2014-2024, while the number of jobs for veterinary technicians and technologists will increase 30% during that same decade ( The BLS reports that veterinarian jobs paid a median salary of $88,490 in 2015, and veterinary technologist and technician jobs paid a median salary of $31,800.

Legal and Social Advocate

Many political as well as non-profit organizations advocate for animals by working to change laws, raise money for animal welfare projects and educate the public. These organizations often rely on lawyers, lobbyists, and management professionals to get their message out and influence legislation.

The requirements needed to hold a position with an advocacy group depend on the duties that will be performed. For example, attorneys will need to complete law school and receive their license to practice law. Lobbyists may hold a law license, or have a degree and experience in marketing or public relations. Those who manage animal advocacy groups may have undergraduate or graduate degrees in non-profit management. These workers may also complete training workshops, or continuing education courses that focus on animal welfare issues.

According to the BLS, jobs for lawyers are expected to grow 6% from 2014-2024; in 2015, the median salary for lawyers was $115,820. Lobbyists, who are categorized by the BLS as public relations specialists, are predicted to see a job growth of 6% from 2014-2024, and their median salary was $56,700 in 2015. The

BLS classifies general management jobs as general and operations managers. The job outlook for all general operations managers is expected to increase 7% from 2014 to 2024, with a median annual salary of $97,730, as reported by the BLS in 2015.

Animal Care Worker

An animal care worker works can assist in the care of animals in a variety of contexts. Many animal shelters rely on animal care workers to regularly feed, groom and socialize shelter residents.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, animal shelter workers don't usually need any special education or training, although many may have the option of completing classes offered by a shelter or by larger animal welfare organizations. Volunteering at an animal shelter is a good way to learn basic shelter animal care.

The BLS reports that the number of jobs for animal care and service workers is expected to increase 11% from 2014-2024. Employees in this field were paid a median salary of $21,260 in 2015, as stated by the BLS.

Animal Control Officer

Animal control officers often work with or for law enforcement agencies. These officers investigate claims of animal cruelty, report of out-of-control or dangerous animals, and may assist wounded or injured wild animals that are found in residential areas. An animal control officer may also work to educate the community on animal safety and welfare issues by making presentations in schools and at community meetings.

Requirements to become an animal control officer vary by location. Some states have established laws on the credentials that an animal control officer must hold, while other states allow local police departments to set their own credentialing requirements. An animal control officer may be required to complete the standard process for becoming a police officer, including graduation from a police academy. The officer may then have to complete a separate training or certification program that specifically addresses animal welfare and control issues.

The BLS lists animal control workers as protective service occupations. According to the BLS, an increase of 4% is expected for protective service occupations between 2014 and 2024. This same source reports that animal control workers earned a median salary of $33,450 in 2015.

If you want to choose a career that combines your love for animals with another career interest, animal advocacy is a good choice. Here you can combine politics, law, medicine, field work, and justice with animal care and protection. Each occupation has its own requirements for education and licensure, so make sure to look first at what is required for work before choosing a degree program.

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