Best Careers for Animal Lovers (With Salaries!)

By Chris Kolmar - Nov. 18, 2020

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Finding meaningful work begins with relating it to you what you love. If you love animals, then you need to explore the wide variety of options out there. From veterinarian to dog walker, whether you have a degree or are just passionate about animals, there are opportunities.

Here is a list to guide you through the possibilities. Consider your experience level, your skillset, and your career goals when browsing. It will help you focus your ability to effectively pursue a career.

  1. Pet store employee. This is a great entry-level position. Like many store associate positions, basic customer skills and experience are required. In this case, you will need to demonstrate abilities to be trusted with animals and have extensive knowledge of animal welfare to perform such duties as cage cleaning, pet food sales, and animal recreation.

    Average Salary: $21,000

  2. Dog walker. This is another great job for those trying to explore the world of animal care. Being a dog walker offers a lot of flexibility; you can either work for an organization or as an independent freelancer. You need to have the ability to walk a lot, to communicate with customers effectively, and the strength to handle all sorts of dogs.

    Average Salary: $25,400

  3. Pet sitter. Like a dog walker, a pet sitter has a lot of flexibility. You can also work with a company or independently, and your hours can be catered to your schedule. Pet sitters are trusted to handle extensive situations with pets, from clean up to health care, feeding, and exercise.

    Average Salary: $25,200

  4. Dog trainer. Dog trainer is an excellent specialized role that is needed in many areas of the country. A dog trainer builds intimate relationships with both the dogs and the owners to ensure successful education and development. Creating a safe environment with effective training techniques is the key to success.

    Average Salary: $25,800

  5. Pet groomer. Many pet owners are unable to groom their pets as it takes time, skill, and equipment. This creates a huge market need to fill. Pet groomers will wash and cut animal fur. Creative and competitive personalities can use their skills through social media and build unique customer bases.

    Average Salary: $23,300

  6. Animal blogger. If you are a writer and love animals, this is a no brainer. From animal journalism to pet advice columns, an animal blogger targets an audience with their focused message. Animal blogging is great for those with writing skills and experience who want a unique topic.

    Average Salary: $52,000

  7. Animal handler. Animal handlers take care of animals in specific situations. This can be at a zoo, at a farm, or for an entertainment organization. Handlers are equipped to manage the animals’ needs at all times.

    Average Salary: $24,200

  8. Animal research. If you want to take your interest in animals to the field of academia, consider becoming an animal science professor. This is a long term commitment in higher education for those serious about animal research. Your area of expertise will be very specific and involve both teaching students and publishing papers in scientific journals.

    Job type you want
    Full Time
    Part Time

    Average Salary: $87,200

  9. Veterinary technician/technologist. Veterinary technicians and technologists work under the supervision of veterinarians to manage the technical procedures of animal care. These include running tests, collecting lab results, monitoring, and preparing animals before medical procedures. Higher education is generally required for either role, a two-year associate’s degree for a technician, and a four-year bachelor’s degree for a technologist.

    Average Salary: $33,200

  10. Veterinarian. Veterinarians are responsible for the medical care of pets, livestock, and more. Their duties include diagnosis illnesses, prescribing medication, and performing euthanizations. It is a role that requires a Doctor in Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M. or V.M.D) from an accredited institution.

    Graduate education generally takes four years to complete. This is a profession for those serious about animal health. They must have the appropriate licenses and high levels of administration and organization skills.

    Average Salary: $111,000

  11. Veterinarian surgeon. A specialized role, veterinarian surgeons generally work in vet hospitals and perform complicated procedures. Therefore veterinarian surgeons need a high-level skill set and a doctorate degree. Ranging from pet surgeries to more unique cases like aiding zoo animals, veterinarian surgeons face very complicated tasks.

    It is one of the most challenging professions for animal lovers but also pays the best.

    Average Salary: $212,400

  12. Animal control officer. This is an excellent job if you want to be involved with your community. Generally, animal control officers work with local police departments. They deal with a range of situations from capturing wild animals that are causing disruptions to finding lost pets.

    Average Salary: $43,300

  13. Animal cruelty investigator. This is a job for those who want to bring justice to mistreated animals. Animal cruelty investigators are tasked with determining details of a situation.

    Since the job can involve a certain level of danger, particularly with difficult animal abusers, animal cruelty investigators need to be skilled in diffusing tension as well as experts in objective analysis. Experience in law enforcement and animal control is a huge plus.

    Average Salary: $53,600

  14. Animal photographer. Another great job for the creative types, animal photographers can be used for pet portraits, animal models, and capturing wildlife. Photography careers allow for flexible schedules, especially as a freelancer. You can make it a part-time or full-time gig. The skills, network, and equipment needed are similar to any other photography position.

    Average Salary: $30,000

  15. Animal-assisted therapist. Animal therapy is an incredible field for those who want to help others. Animal-assisted therapists work with animals and clients with conditions such as anxiety, PTSD, and autism to improve behavior. Most animal-assisted therapists have a bachelor’s degree in psychology and experience with animal care.

    Average Salary: $46,300

  16. Animal caregiver. Wherever animals are, there are people taking care of them. This is the role of an animal caregiver. It could be at a farm, a zoo, or for a media production team.

    Animal caregivers must be able to take charge of the animal’s welfare, including cleaning their cages/living spaces, providing appropriate nutrition, and making sure their needs are met in a humane manner that is up to regulations.

    Average Salary: $23,000

  17. Zookeeper. Zookeepers provide care for zoo animals as well as act as informational guides for guests. It is a role that combines customer service and animal care. This is great if you are interested in teaching, as it is one of the skills needed when you interact with the audience.

    Average Salary: $25,100

  18. Wildlife rehab. In the event of natural disasters like hurricanes and wildfires, wildlife rehabilitators rescue and return animals affected. Wildlife rehabilitators will help provide medical and shelter, so they need well-developed skills in animal care.

    Average Salary: $24,860

  19. Conservation/forest officer. Conservation/Forest Officers work to protect wildlife in their natural habitats and enforce regulations for recreational human interactions such as camping and hunting. A conservation/forest officer will need to be able to monitor their areas using appropriate technology, document interactions, and provide educational resources for the general public through items such as maps and pamphlets.

    Average Salary: $31,200

  20. Animal breeder. Breeders can be tasked with improving livestock for agricultural needs or breed desirable pets for potential owners. A breeder is required to provide long term care of the animals and ensure successful interactions between clients.

    Average Salary: $35,300

  21. Marine biologist. Marine biology is the study of aquatic animals, and marine biologists spend a lot of their time in the water. So if you love the ocean and swimming, this is a great job for you. Higher education is required, with serious marine biologists pursuing doctorates in their field.

    Average Salary: $52,200

Now that you have a general idea of what is out there, take the time to consider what you want from working with animals and begin researching relevant positions. There is so much opportunity that awaits. Get excited about your passion and dive in.

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Chris Kolmar


Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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