It’s important to find a job that will not only fulfil you but also bring in a great wage, too. And what’s more satisfying than dealing with cute, fluffy animals all day? Whether you’re leaving school or changing careers, a job with adorable four-legged creatures may be the route to take.
Here is a list of the top animal-related professions, along with their average salary, to help you find the perfect career.
1. Veterinary assistant
Median salary: $27,000 (£19,950)
If you can deal with pressure and have the compassion to calm down worried pet owners, this is the ideal position for you. Veterinary assistants are the first point of contact for patients; they handle telephone enquiries, arrange emergencies and take care of all the administrative tasks needed in the office. It’s a great starting position to get familiar with the day-to-day duties of a working clinic and what it entails to be a veterinarian.
2. Pet groomer
Median salary: $29,200 (£21,580)
If you spend endless hours dolling up your (disapproving) four-legged friends, you might want to think about a career as a pet groomer. You don’t necessarily need any formal education to become one, but enrolling in a pet grooming course won’t do you any harm. Although you’ll mostly be grooming dogs, you might need to invest in some armour when you're working with cats.
3. Dog sitter
Median salary: $29,500 (£21,800)
It’s hard to believe that this is a real-life job! Working as a doggy sitter offers the perfect work-life balance. It entails looking after other people’s pets while they are away; this can either be in your own home or visiting theirs once or twice a day.
4. Dog walker
Median salary: $30,837 (£22,790)
If you love dogs (as much as I do), this job will literally be a walk in the park. Ever seen a movie where a physically fit young adult takes a stroll with a few furry animals and gets a hefty sum to do so? Well, that could be you. You just need to establish yourself as a trustworthy dog walker and – ka-ching! – you’re in business. You could start off by walking the neighbours’ or friends’ dogs to get your name out there.
5. Veterinary technician
Median salary: $31,000 (£22,900)
Vet technicians are trained to do lab and clinical procedures, and work hand-in-hand with veterinarians. A typical day involves taking blood samples, performing lab tests, recording case histories, cleaning teeth and taking X-rays. It’s not a role for the squeamish, though, as you have to deal with really sick and injured animals.
6. Pet trainer
Median salary: $33,000 (£24,390)
Thinking of becoming the next dog whisperer or travelling the world and training exotic animals? Well, you can do just that by learning to train all different types of animals and making them more obedient. Cesar Millan, a celebrity dog trainer, says: ‘Working with dogs is a wonderful life – it enables you to become part of a happy pack – and having your passion for animals as the focus of your life brings enormous rewards.’
7. Animal cruelty investigator
Median salary: $33,800 (£24,980)
If you’re opinionated and like to fight for justice, this might be the best role for you. When the unthoughtful act of animal cruelty happens, investigators are needed in order to respond to and explore complaints, as well as to collect evidence for trials and convictions. It is certainly one of the more emotionally trying jobs that deal with animals, but it is also one of the most significant and meaningful.
8. Animal control worker
Median salary: $34,500 (£25,500)
Animal control workers help ensure the proper treatment of animals, as well as investigate cases of mistreatment and locate abandoned pets. Their day revolves around urgent calls and they should be able to respond quickly, multitask and think of quick solutions. The minimum requirement for the job is a high school diploma (or equivalent); additional training usually takes place on the job.
9. Horseback riding teacher
Median salary: $35,000 (£25,870)
If you have a passion for horses and are a skilled equestrian, why not teach others everything that you know? This career not only keeps you physically fit but it also allows you to interact with lots of different people and care for beautiful animals. In order to work within the industry, you will need to be certified by completing training which will give you the skills and knowledge needed to pass the British Horse Society (BHS) or Association of British Riding Schools (ABRS) exams.
10. Animal breeder
Median salary: $39,000 (£28,830)
Fancy hanging out with puppies and kittens all day? If you love a particular breed, you can spend your days looking after animals, managing a business and maintaining high genetic standards. The hardest part of this job is handing over the sweet little pets that you’ve nurtured to their new home or pet store.
11. Laboratory animal caretaker
Median salary: $40,000 (£29,560)
Laboratory animal caretakers look after the animals that scientists keep in their labs for research. They are employed to ensure the animals aren’t mistreated and are kept in a happy environment, while ensuring they are fed, watered, kept clean and treated in the case of an injury.
Median salary: $40,000 (£29,560)
Another job for the horse lovers, a farrier’s job involves cleaning and trimming and shoeing horses’ feet. Although it sounds easy, great organisational skills are needed to succeed in this position. You must ensure that you always carry the correct tools and have a lot of strength and patience to deal with some unruly animals.
13. Pet photographer
Median salary: $42,000 (£31,040)
If you have a love for animals and photography, you can benefit from combining the two. You’ll need to invest in all the right equipment and computer software like Adobe Photoshop. Although not required, taking a photography course is highly recommended. You can choose to specialise in wildlife photography, supply images to stock photo agencies or simply take pictures of people’s pets in your studio or in their own homes.
Median salary: $45,700 (£33,780)
Zoologists mainly work with animals in captivity. They are scientists that study wildlife for research purposes. If you’re interested in making a discovery, or simply understanding how certain mammals or reptiles work, you can spend your time doing this in either a lab or a zoo. In order to work within this field, you will generally need a master’s degree or PhD.
15. Marine biologist
Median salary: $51,500 (£38,070)
Marine biologists study all living organisms in the earth’s bodies of water. The job also involves travelling and scuba diving, so if you’re a confident swimmer and would like to discover what’s underwater, this job is right up your alley. To become a marine biologist, you must have a master’s degree in oceanography, fishery, marine biology or zoology.
16. Animal nutritionist
Median salary: $64,000 (£47,300)
Animal nutritionists spend their time shaping the dietary needs of animals in captivity, as well as studying their behaviour and economics to make recommendations to corporations or governmental agencies about diet. Nutritionists can specialise in working with certain groups such as companion breeds, livestock or exotic wildlife.
Median salary: $75,000 (£55,430)
Like a doctor, being a vet isn’t easy; you’re usually on call for emergency situations and have to deal with life-threatening situations on a daily basis. The rewards of treating an ill animal, however, is well worth all the hard work and long hours you will put in.
18. Veterinary dentist
Median salary: $82,000 (£60,590)
Many animals end up with bad gums, infected teeth and generally bad dental hygiene. This is where a veterinary dentist comes in to help ease the pain for our furry friends. Although this job is difficult and requires many years of study, it’s one of the highest paying careers in the animal-loving world.
There are very few people that get to say that they enjoy what they do, but with these professions, you can have great job satisfaction and earn a decent wage, too.
Have you had any experience in any of the positions listed above? Let us know your feedback in the comment section below…
Salary information is based on data compiled and published by PayScale. Currency conversions are based on rates supplied by XE.com on 8 January 2018.