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Does your dream job involve working with animals? Then you’ll be pleased to know that there are numerous options for you out there, be they in the scientific field, agriculture sector or even law enforcement.
If that’s piqued your curiosity, keep reading. Here’s a list of some of the best career options for animal lovers.
1. Pet groomer
Average annual salary: $34,350 (£25,090)
A pet groomer’s responsibilities involve bathing, nail clipping, as well as detangling and trimming pets’ coats. Most often, pet groomers work at pet salons and animal clinics with dogs and cats, but they may also specialise in other animals such as horses and work at equestrian schools and stables.
This is quite a hands-on job, which requires you to work closely with other people’s pets — meaning there’s a risk of biting and scratching, especially by four-legged clients who don’t find the idea of a bath and a coat trim too appealing. That said, with proper training and by familiarising yourself with the best practices as a pet groomer, you’ll be able to carry out your duties safely — and, hopefully, scratch-free!
Average annual salary: $86,240 (£62,980)
Veterinarians work closely with a variety of animals, from house pets to livestock. Day-to-day duties involve diagnosing, treating, operating and testing animals, but also consulting and advising their owners on how to optimise their health.
While this can be a fulfilling and rewarding occupation, it also comes with long hours, being on-call for emergencies and having to make difficult decisions on a daily basis. To pursue this career, you’ll first need to obtain a degree and complete clinical work before you can get your veterinary licence.
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3. Pet psychologist
Average annual salary: $69,790 (£50,970)
Pet psychologists, or animal behaviourists, work with animals that exhibit behavioural issues. Their primary goal is to assess why an animal may be misbehaving, lashing out or exhibiting distress, and come up with steps that can help address and modify such behaviours.
Many pet psychologists also conduct research on animal behaviour and work within academia, focusing on several topics, such as training companion pets for people with disabilities and health conditions.
4. Animal trainer
Average annual salary: $29,890 (£21,830)
Animal trainers possess the knowledge and experience to teach animals obedience and discipline. Usually, their expertise is focused on one animal, such as dogs, horses or marine mammals. This is quite a diverse role, and depending on which animal you choose to specialise in, the job could take you to aquariums, kennels, animal sanctuaries and homes.
This job does come with its fair share of risks too, as animal trainers often have to work with aggressive, frightened and disobedient animals that could lash out.
5. Animal breeder
Average annual salary: $43,450 (£31,730)
Much like animal trainers, animal breeders may work with different animals including dogs, horses, cattle, birds and reptiles. Their main objective is to mate and produce animals for companionship or sport.
Part of their job also involves them raising these animals until they reach an age where they can be sold to new owners. Breeders are required to follow strict guidelines and laws to ensure ethical breeding and to avoid producing animals with genetic disorders. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.
Average annual salary: $53,450 (£39,040)
Zoologists are biological scientists devoted to studying wildlife and its interaction with ecosystems. This includes assessing animal behaviour, the impact that humans may have on their natural habitats, and conservation methods to protect different species.
For people who are equally passionate about animals and science, this may be a dream job.
7. Pet sitter
Average annual salary: $34,390 (£25,120)
Pet sitters look after people’s beloved pets while they’re away from home, usually on holiday. The job involves feeding, walking, grooming, administering medicine and taking vet appointments. The main objective is to provide companionship to the animals while their owners are away and to ensure that they’re in prime health.
8. Dog walker
Average annual salary: $33,970 (£24,810)
While this occupation may seem like a breezy walk in the park, it requires great responsibility, organisational skills, time management and efficiency. Dog walkers work with dogs of all sizes, temperaments and needs, which means they must create an appropriate schedule for each of their clients and coordinate different appointments. Moreover, they must also ensure the pet’s safety at all times.
Oftentimes, dog walkers may double as pet sitters, although the two can be mutually exclusive professions.
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Average annual salary: $55,620 (£40,620)
Farriers specialise in hoof care for horses, ponies, mules and donkeys. This involves cleaning, trimming and shoeing equines’ hooves. This is quite a demanding and laborious job which will have you working with horses of varying temperaments.
As a farrier, you must possess both veterinary knowledge and blacksmithing skills that will allow you to carry out your duties efficiently.
10. Pet photographer
Average annual salary: $48,770 (£35,600)
If you’re an animal lover who is also a skilled photographer, then why not combine two of your passions and make a career out of them?
Pet photographers are paid handsomely to capture portraits of people’s beloved pets. You can choose to specialise in a specific niche such as equine photography. You may also want to consider wildlife photography if you want a bigger challenge.
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11. Marine biologist
Average annual salary: $52,430 (£38,270)
Marine biologists study sea life in an attempt to understand their behaviour, ecosystems and how human activity affects their environments.
Some marine biologists may spend most of their time conducting fieldwork, working on ships, scuba diving and monitoring sea life, while others may work in research labs and consultancy firms.
12. Kennel attendant
Average annual salary: $26,000 (£18,980)
Kennel attendants work in animal clinics, shelters and pet boarding facilities, providing care for all the animals hosted there. Their responsibilities span from feeding and watering pets to exercising them and cleaning their cages.
This is a highly fulfilling role, which you may also be able to take on as a volunteer in many cases. That said, it can also be physically demanding and mentally straining, although you will be on the frontlines of animal welfare.
Want to improve your understanding of animal welfare? Enrol in the University of Edinburgh’s ‘Animal Behaviour and Welfare’ online course! Check it out on Coursera
13. Veterinary assistant
Average annual salary: $25,890 (£18,900)
Veterinary assistants work under the supervision of veterinarians and vet techs. Their main duties revolve around feeding and cleaning pets, administering medicine, assisting during patient examinations, and performing clerical tasks.
This is a great entry-level role if you’re considering a career in veterinary science, as no advanced qualifications are required. However, on-the-job training will definitely be a must.
14. Animal caretaker
Average annual salary: $32,400 (£23,650)
Like kennel attendants, animal caretakers feed, water and exercise animals, and keep their living spaces clean. Other duties may also involve training, grooming and monitoring animals’ health.
While they may work in places like clinics, sanctuaries and shelters, animal caretakers may also find employment in aquariums, zoos, stables, farms and laboratories.
15. Wildlife rehabilitator
Average annual salary: $47,720 (£34,830)
Wildlife rehabilitators help sick, injured and orphaned wildlife, ensuring that they’re in a condition to be released back to their natural habitat in a good condition.
This is a job that requires extensive training and knowledge, as wildlife is greatly different from domesticated animals. By working with specialised veterinarians, rehabilitators administer first aid and assist in the physical therapy of the injured animals.
16. Animal shelter manager
Average annual salary: $37,170 (£27,130)
Running a shelter can be equally rewarding as it is challenging. From supervising staff to overseeing adoptions and ensuring facilities are properly maintained to making sure that all animals are treated humanely, the role comes with a long list of duties.
That said, being on the frontlines and helping stray and abandoned animals find new loving homes certainly overshadows the sometimes gruelling circumstances shelters often face.
17. Veterinary technician
Average annual salary: $36,730 (£26,810)
Their days involve taking blood samples, performing lab tests, preparing animals before procedures and taking X-rays. This role requires both an accredited degree in veterinary technology and formal training, as well as licensing.
18. Horse riding instructor
Average annual salary: $32,370 (£23,630)
Horse riding instructors are often experienced equestrians who have worked with horses for several years. Depending on their experience and expertise, they instruct novice or advanced riders in different disciplines such as barrel racing, dressage and show jumping.
They may also choose to work in more commercial roles supervising adventure rides, riding excursions and safaris.
Is your equine welfare and management knowledge up to par? Enrol in the University of Florida’s ‘The Horse Course’! Check it out on Coursera
19. Animal cruelty investigator
Average annual salary: $55,670 (£40,630)
Animal cruelty investigators are law enforcement officers tasked with inspecting reports of animal abuse and neglect.
While this is a role that may be distressing at times, it’s also highly fulfilling, as you have the opportunity to help defenceless animals and remove them from dangerous circumstances. Usually, animal cruelty investigators may work for animal police units, NGOs, humane societies or animal control centres.
20. Animal lawyer
Average annual salary: $86,670 (£63,260)
Did you know you can help animals by pursuing a career in the legal sector? Well, you can!
While animal lawyers work indirectly with animals, they have the chance to help NGOs and charities support the animal protection movement and uphold animal protection laws. Their main line of duties includes filing lawsuits, prosecuting animal abusers, and helping with animal law education in schools, colleges and universities.
Working with animals is a highly rewarding and fulfilling path to take. Whether you’re hoping to pursue a career in agriculture or one that is centred in academia, there are numerous jobs across multiple disciplines to suit every animal lover and their professional ambitions.
So, if you’re certain that you want your career to revolve around helping and working with animals, all that’s left to do is pick one that is right for you!
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Join the discussion! Which of these animal jobs piqued your interest? Let us know in the comments section below!
This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 12 January 2018.