There is a wide range of animal care jobs, and there is at least one to suit any animal lover.
Some people love dogs. Some love cats. And some just love animals in general, often more than they love people. For those people, finding a job in which they can spend time with animals and contribute to their care would be a dream come true. There are many different career options in the animal care field, and they require a varying range of skills and education.
At the higher level, it takes time and money to acquire the education to earn the advanced degree and license that are required, and at the lower end, no training is necessary. In between, there are entry level jobs that may provide on-the-job training, or employers may prefer to hire candidates with undergraduate degrees in an applicable field. The duties required in each job will also vary.
Animal Care Jobs: Veterinarian and Vet Tech
Anyone who wants to go all out with training and education can consider becoming a veterinarian. These animal doctors are needed in many capacities. They can have their own practices that concentrate on small animals like dogs and cats, or they can have a mobile practice to focus on large animals like horses, cows, and other farm animals. Veterinarians are also needed in emergency animal hospitals, specialty clinics, zoos, circuses, horse racing tracks, animal shelters, marine parks, and wildlife reserves. Their basic function is taking care of animal health care needs, including wellness check-ups, vaccinations, illness and injury care, and surgery.
Someone who doesn’t have the time or funds to pursue a career as a full-fledged veterinarian can consider pursuing vet tech jobs or vet assistant jobs. People in this position help veterinarians in the examination room and operating room to restrain animals during examinations and procedures. They may also be required to do some clerical work, and they may perform some of the simpler procedures. Vet techs and vet assistants can find work wherever veterinarians are working.
Animal Care Jobs: Working at the Zoo
While zoos need veterinarians and vet techs to look after the health and well-being of the animals, they also need personnel to look after their basic daily requirements. These zookeepers have duties that include preparing food and feeding the animals, keeping their habitats clean, and looking after the young animals. They are responsible for monitoring the animals’ health, behavior, and eating and sleeping habits. In larger zoos, there will likely be multiple specialized zookeepers who look after animals in specific categories.
Animal Care Jobs: Wildlife Jobs
If you love animals and you enjoy the wide, open spaces, you might find that being a wildlife area coordinator is just your cup of tea. In this position you could find yourself performing animal control, supervising the technicians, and conducting wildlife tours, all in an area of up to 5000 acres. Besides knowledge of animal care, a knowledge of wildlife law enforcement is also necessary for this position. Anyone wishing to work in this field is usually required to have an undergraduate degree in wildlife management, but it’s also possible to work your way up to the position through years of experience as a wildlife technician.
Animal Care Jobs: Animal Shelters
Animal shelters and Humane Societies employ animal caretakers to take care of animals who are lost, abandoned, and victims of animal cruelty. Because of the situations of many animals who find their way to a shelter, this can be a very emotional job, so a person who feels too deeply about the suffering of animals could find this particular job to be unbearable. On the other hand, someone who understands the plight of these animals, and wants to try to make them as comfortable and content as possible, may find the job fulfilling. Many of these caretakers’ duties involve euthanizing some of the animals, but the organizations take care to make sure that appropriate methods are used to end the animals’ lives humanely and peacefully. Other shelter duties may require the capture of feral animals and wildlife, and the coordination of animal adoptions.
Animal Care Jobs: Kennel Jobs
Another area where animal care is important is anywhere that animals are boarded. Kennels provide boarding for pets of families on vacation, and some are also offering doggie day care facilities so that dogs don’t have to be left alone during the work day. There are also equine boarding facilities so that people who don’t have sufficient land can still own a horse. The horses are kept in these establishments long term, and the owners can visit and ride them whenever they have the opportunity. Workers in these establishments would be responsible for feeding and providing water for the animals, keeping an eye out for potential health problems, and hopefully, exercising and playing with the animals.
Animal Care Jobs: Pet Grooming Jobs
If you want to handle animal aesthetics, you could become an animal groomer. This profession involves maintaining pets’ hygiene and appearance by giving them baths, brushing them, trimming their hair, and clipping their toenails. Groomers can have their own business, or salon, or they can work with veterinarians, in kennels, in shelters and in some pet supply stores. Some groomers actually make house calls. Although groomers don’t provide health care services, they have sometimes noticed a problem during a grooming session that moved them to recommend a visit to the vet.
There are also people who work in stables and are actually called grooms. (These grooms have nothing to do with brides!) People in this vocation take care of horses, and their duties may include feeding, exercising, and rubbing down the horses in addition to grooming them. They may have other duties, too, which could include cleaning out the stalls and taking care of the saddles and tack. Grooms may even be involved in training the horses.
Animal Care Jobs: Pet Shops
Although it’s hard to find a pet shop that actually sells puppies and kittens any more, there are still a few out there, and pet store associates are required to care for animals as part of their jobs. Besides providing food and water, they need to clean bird cages and aquariums and keep track of the general health of the animals. Even pet shops that don’t actually sell animals will occasionally have animals available for adoption, and animal care professionals will be needed to look after the animals as they wait for adoption.
Animal Care Jobs: Pet Sitting and Dog Walking
For animal lovers who would like to work with animals and keep a flexible schedule, pet sitting or dog walking might be a good option. For these vocations, no formal training is needed, since there is no involvement with health care, but the person who offers these services should take it upon himself to stay informed in all the basics of animal care. Pet sitters can provide their services in their own locations, or they can go to the clients’ homes.
People will always love their animals, and there will always be a need for animal care. For anyone who is considering a career in animal care, there are plenty of opportunities out there. Sometimes the field may not be easy to get into, depending on the competition and the economy, but perseverance will usually get the right people into the jobs of their dreams—taking care of the animals they love.