Careers Involving Animals & Psychology

Jan 17, 2020

There are a range of career paths that combine both psychology and working with animals. Each career path has different education requirements and job duties. Read this article for more information about these different careers.

Careers Involving Animals & Psychology

If you are an animal lover, you probably know that animals, like humans, have their own psychological needs. Animals can also have an effect on the psychology of humans and vice versa. There are a number of career paths that involve both psychology and animals.

Job Title Median Salary (2018)* Job Growth (2018-2028)*
Animal Trainer $29,290 13%
Pet Sitter $23,760 16%
Recreational Therapist $47,860 7%
Veterinarian $93,830 18%
Zoologist $63,420 5%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information for Animals & Psychology

Animal Trainer

An animal trainer is a type of animal service worker. They teach animals how to follow commands, perform, or even assist people with disabilities or special needs. Most trainers have a high school degree and learn on the job; some trainers, however, may need a bachelor's degree in a related field such as marine biology or animal science. A trainer has to understand animal psychology in order to successfully train different animals. Training an animal like a dog or horse to assist humans also requires an understanding of human psychology.

Pet Sitter

A pet sitter takes care of a domestic pet such as a dog or cat in their home while their owners are away. Sitters typically feed, play with and walk a pet, and take care of any other daily needs. Being a pet sitter typically does not require a degree, but experience and a love of animals may help. A pet sitter must have an appreciation of animal psychology to make the animal comfortable with a stranger, to continue their routine, and to accommodate the animal's needs while their owner is away.

Recreational Therapist

A recreational therapist uses recreational activities to help assist or heal people with injuries or disabilities. Some forms of recreational therapy involve animals, such as a therapy dog or horseback riding. Recreational therapists typically need a bachelor's degree in recreational therapy or studies, and certification may be required by some employers. Recreational therapists assess the physical and psychological needs of a patient before implementing a therapy plan. Therapy with animals could be used to address psychological challenges, such as anxiety, depression, or nonverbal learning disabilities.


A veterinarian cares for the health of many types of animals. Most work in a private practice or hospital, looking after pets and livestock. Veterinarians examine, assess, and treat the health conditions of animals. Veterinarians must have a doctorate of medicine from an accredited school, and be licensed to practice. Veterinarians take into account all aspects of an animal's well-being, including their psychological health.


Zoologists study animals, including animal health, behaviors and how they interact with humans and their environment. A zoologist needs to have a bachelor's degree, although a master's or PhD may be necessary for higher level research work. While zoologists study the physical qualities of wildlife and their environments, they must also have an understanding of animal psychology in order to report findings on changes in animal behavior. In particular, studying animal interactions and animal-human interactions relates to psychology.

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