Navy Jobs with Animals

Jul 15, 2018

Navy jobs utilize various kinds of tools like equipment, motors and machinery. Other jobs use animals like dogs, dolphins, and sea lions, which have skills that are complementary to Navy divers. This article describes Navy jobs that use animals.

The Navy's involvement with animals has been around for many years. Besides dogs that other military branches also use, the Navy uses marine animals like Bottlenose dolphins, sea lions and seals in its Navy Marine Mammal Program. As the Navy takes up more animals, the Navy careers that use animals have been growing too. Below is a description of the active duty Navy careers that use animals.

Career Comparison

Job Title Median Salary (2017)* Job Growth Applicable Military Skills/Traits
K9 Dog Handlers $47,112 N/A Willingness to work with dogs, loyalty, patience, ability to train and instruct animals
Veterinarians $107,150 N/A Desire to work with animals, medical training, basic Army training

Source: *Department of Defense

Relevance to Military Background

Some roles in the Navy require the use of certain animals. The animals are selected for these roles because they are trainable, reliable and have useful skills that complement the Navy divers for tasks such as detection and clearance of mines, protection of harbors, equipment recovery and protecting Navy-restricted areas from unauthorized swimmers and trespassers. These careers and programs include:

K9 Dog Handlers

Dogs are chosen in the United States military for their unique combination of traits; they are aggressive, loyal, athletic and smart in nature. They also have a superior sense of smell that makes them useful for bomb detection, the location of lost and wanted persons, drug interdiction, and scouting. Navy dog handlers are in charge of basic training and care of these working dogs.


Animals used in the Navy participate in all military activities and therefore need specialized care. The Navy provides animal husbandry, which includes veterinary care to keep the animals in good health. Care involves services to take care of physical and psychiatric issues. Veterinarians also ensure that the animals are not used for bio-terrorism, check the animals' food to ensure its safety and are also involved in conducting biomedical research. They also take the lead through the process of developing and improving animal care systems in war-torn and third world countries. In combat environments, veterinarians also provide medical and surgical assistance, food, and defense to animals.

Animals and pets owned by service members also receive healthcare services courtesy of the Navy veterinarians. Those who further their education in the study of microbiology, pathology laboratory animal medicine and other specialties also find work in military research labs and in government agencies after retirement.

Other Marine Mammal Programs

When the Navy is scouting for objects that could either prove harmful for the military personnel and their vessels, or those that are too expensive to replace, they depend on sea lions and dolphins to determine the location of these objects. Dolphins have a superior sonar system that can detect objects on the sea floor, below the water column, with better accuracy than manufactured sonars. Sea lions, on the other hand, are a quite sensitive directional hearing under the water and excellent vision in conditions with low light. These animals are suitable for these roles because they are trainable and excellent divers.

The word mark, abbreviated as MK, is used to show different roles that Navy soldiers hold in the Navy's Marine Mammal Program. The program has five different teams: MK4 through MK8. Teams MK4, MK7 and MK8 handle dolphins, training them to detect hidden mines on the ocean floor and identify safe corridors to create room for the troops to land. Team MK5 handles sea lions while MK6 uses both sea lions and dolphins.

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