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Careers with Animals
September 29, 2020

Careers with Animals: 20 Ways to Turn Your Passion into a Profession

You might be someone who can’t get enough of canines. Or it could be you love being around livestock. Perhaps you’re simply content to be near any kind of creature. Whatever your specific animal-related interest, you can likely put it to use in the workforce.

Careers with animals aren’t just available, they’re abundant. We’re highlighting 20 different professions to prove it. Some of them are probably familiar, but you might be surprised to discover what types of jobs working with animals are out there. You might even discover the ideal animal career for you.

20 careers with animals worth considering

Believe it or not, this is a condensed list of professional opportunities for those interested in working with animals. There are even more options out there. It’s also worth noting that there’s room for fluctuation in the compensation data included depending on location, experience and whether you run your own business.   

1. Agricultural technician

Agricultural technicians assist with measuring and analyzing the quality of agricultural products. They ensure collected samples meet the appropriate safety and quality standards. Much of the work agricultural technicians do is aimed at increasing productivity and minimizing the chances of disease among animals.

Earning potential: The median annual salary for agricultural technicians in 2019 was $41,230, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

2. Animal-assisted therapist

These specialists are therapists who incorporate animals into their treatment plans to promote well-being. Animal-assisted therapists might work with elderly individuals who may otherwise be socially isolated or clients with certain medical conditions. Some research has actually shown that animal-assisted therapy can help improve recovery for patients staying in an intensive care unit (ICU).

Earning potential: The median annual salary in 2019 for a broad group of therapists that includes animal-assisted therapists was $52,650.

3. Animal breeder

Whether they work with dogs, horses or another type of animal, breeders use their knowledge of genetics to assist in producing offspring. They often breed for valuable traits, which vary depending on the animal. Many animal breeders are well-versed in artificial insemination techniques to ensure consistency.

Earning potential: The median annual salary for animal breeders in 2019 was $42,920.

4. Animal control worker

While there are numerous job titles for animal control workers, these professionals typically have the same responsibilities. Their duties can include picking up stray animals, conducting humane investigations and seeking justice for abused or neglected animals. They often write long, thorough reports, so it’s especially important to be detail-oriented to pursue this animal career. 

Earning potential: The median annual salary for animal control workers in 2019 was $37,590.

5. Animal scientist

An animal scientist’s day-to-day work can vary depending on where they’re employed. You can find these professionals working in academic settings, research facilities, regulatory agencies and more. Regardless of their specific role, animal scientists draw on their expertise in animal nutrition, genetics, growth and development to help ensure a safe and stable food supply.

Earning potential: The median annual salary for animal scientists in 2019 was $60,300.

6. Animal trainer

Trainers teach animals an array of skills related to obedience, security and even assisting individuals with disabilities. Good trainers can teach animals how to respond and react to voice and visual commands. They often work with dogs or horses, but others work with more exotic animals.

Earning potential: The median annual salary for animal trainers in 2019 was $24,780.

7. Conservation officer

Also called fish and game wardens, conservation officers are technically law enforcement professionals. Their duties include investigating wildlife crimes, patrolling areas like lakes and deserts, and assisting with prosecution of court cases. If you’re passionate about protecting wildlife and have an affinity for the legal field, this animal career could be a great fit.

Earning potential: The median annual salary for conservation officers in 2019 was $57,500.

8. Farm or ranch manager

Farm and ranch managers are tasked with making sure everything at the facility they oversee is running smoothly. They need to carefully monitor weather patterns and track disease to make sure the animals stay healthy. Those who work on small farms or ranches may do a lot of manual labor involved in raising animals themselves, while managers at larger facilities will likely oversee employees who perform those tasks.

Earning potential: The median annual salary for farm and ranch managers in 2019 was $71,160.

9. Farmworker

Those who love hands-on work with animals might enjoy being a farmworker. These individuals perform a vast array of tasks, including feeding, grazing, weighing and loading animals. Many in this animal career also assist with births and are even trained to perform basic medical procedures like administering vaccines. 

Earning potential: The median annual salary for farmworkers in 2019 was $27,830.

10. Kennel attendant

When pet owners need someone to look after their furry friends, they often rely on kennel attendants to ensure their animals stay happy and healthy. Kennel attendants are responsible for everything from feeding to making sure the animals they’re watching get enough physical activity. They often work in boarding kennels, but veterinary clinics and rescue organizations often employ these individuals as well.

Earning potential: The median annual salary for nonfarm animal caretakers, which includes kennel attendants, in 2019 was $24,780.

11. Lab animal caretaker

Responsibly using animals in research is sometimes vital to scientific advances, and lab animal caretakers work to ensure safety and quality of life for those creatures. Under the supervision of a scientist or veterinarian, lab animal caretakers feed, exercise and monitor animals. They also assist with collecting samples and making sure the working environment stays clean.

Earning potential: The median annual salary for both veterinary assistants and lab animal caretakers in 2019 was $28,590.

12. Pet adoption counselor

There are many animals that need a good home, and pet adoption counselors help considerably. They work with potential pet owners to make sure they find the best possible pairing for every animal. Pet adoption counselors often advise potential owners on general pet care as well as how they can accommodate a certain animal’s unique needs.

Earning potential: The median annual salary for nonfarm animal caretakers, which includes pet adoption counselors, in 2019 was $24,780.

13. Pet groomer

Groomers are responsible for maintaining pets’ appearances. They cut and trim hair, clean ears and clip nails. Pet groomers also frequently sell products to pet owners. They have many options for employment, including running their own business or working at a kennel.  

Earning potential: The BLS classifies groomers as animal care and service workers. In 2019, this group earned a median annual salary of $24,780.

14. Veterinarian

Veterinarians are the doctors of the animal world. They often do a lot of preventive care, but also treat existing medical conditions and injuries. Like physicians who work with people, veterinarians can specialize. Many also work with a single type of animal or group of animals, such as pets or large animals.

Earning potential: The median annual wage for veterinarians in 2019 was $95,460.

15. Veterinary assistant

An integral part of the team at a clinic, veterinary assistants help care for animals. They support veterinarians and veterinary technicians by making sure animals are fed, cleaned and exercised. They also help to secure animals during examinations and may provide basic medical care like first aid.

Earning potential: The median annual salary for veterinary assistants in 2019 was $35,320.

16. Veterinary technician

Veterinary technicians work under the supervision of veterinarians to help provide medical care to animals. Their duties include taking medical histories, collecting samples, preparing animals for surgery and assisting in diagnostic procedures. Like veterinarians, these professionals must keep up with continuing education requirements.

Earning potential: The median annual salary for veterinary technicians in 2019 was $34,420.

17. Wildlife biologist

Wildlife biologists are experts in wildlife and habitats as well as how the two impact one another. They help to preserve wild animal populations by conducting research, setting catch limits, writing reports and collaborating with other professionals to improve habitats as needed. If you’re passionate about protecting endangered species and other wildlife, this could be a perfect opportunity for you to be working with animals.

Earning potential: The median annual salary for both wildlife biologists and zoologists in 2019 was $63,270.

18. Wildlife rehabilitator

While some wildlife rehabilitators are volunteers, others perform this work full time. When animals are brought to a rehabilitation facility, these experts must conduct an exam, respond to any immediate health needs and then provide follow-up care until the animal is ready for release. While working with animals is central to this role, wildlife rehabilitators also spend a fair amount of time communicating with the public.

Earning potential: While the BLS doesn’t provide specific salary information on wildlife rehabilitators, the median annual salary for nonfarm animal caretakers in 2019 was $24,780.

19. Zookeeper

Being a zookeeper is one of the few careers that provides a substantial amount of interaction with exotic creatures. They provide care for the animals they oversee, which includes feeding, observing behavioral changes and administering medication when necessary. Many zookeepers are also involved in education programs geared toward visitors. 

Earning potential: The median annual salary for animal care and service workers, which includes zookeepers, in 2019 was $24,780.

20. Zoologist

Zoologists work in the same general field as wildlife biologists, but there is a distinction. While these individuals also study animals and conduct research to aid in conservation, they focus more on specific types of animals rather than animal populations or ecosystems. Ornithologists, for example, are zoologists who study birds.

Earning potential: The median annual salary for both wildlife biologists and zoologists in 2019 was $63,270.

Do you envision yourself working with animals?

There are clearly plenty of employment options for animal lovers like you. If you’re unsure of which path you want to take, spend some time thinking about your career goals and what it will take to attain them. The professions above vary considerably when it comes to earning potential, job opportunity and required education.

Many, but not all, careers with animals require a bachelor’s degree. This is especially true for science-based professions like veterinary medicine and zoology. If you’re interested in these types of animal careers, it might be time to start thinking about next steps. To learn more about how you can prepare for a future working with animals at Berry College, which is surrounded by 27,000 acres of woodlands and meadows that are home to numerous creatures, head to our Animal Science program page.

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