Jobs That Work With Animals: A Complete Guide

Information Last Verified: August 30, 2021 by Jordan Fabel

In the US, almost 40% of households own a dog. Another 25% own cats, so it’s clear that we’re a nation of animal lovers!

Whether you own pets or not, you wish to spend every waking moment with them.

It’s a win-win situation! Not only will you get to spend your days with lovable creatures, but you’ll also get paid for it. In that case, careers working with animals can be a great career choice for you.

If you’re interested in working with animals, then you’re in luck. Here are some jobs that allow you to work with some furry and not-so furry friends!

Work with Animals

Groomer

This is like doing hair and nails, except it’s for pets! What’s great is you don’t need to go to school or get a certification to become a groomer. Theoretically, you can just apply somewhere and get hired on to pamper some sweet dogs and cats.

However, it might be beneficial to attend some sort of dog-grooming school and get certified. For example, you can learn and get certified by International Professional Groomers.

In any case, a lot of the learning will be done on the job, so if you pick things up quickly, then you’ll be well-suited for being a groomer.

It might be good if you have experience handling pets. Some might feel apprehensive about being in a new environment, especially if you’re bathing and combing them. You want to be able to handle animals that might act out of character, even aggressive.

The average salary for groomers is around $35,800, which isn’t bad considering you don’t need prior qualifications to work as one.

Dog Walker

If you’re wondering about how to work with animals easily, why not try dog walking? Not only will you get to play with some cute puppies, but you’ll also get a great workout!

Keep in mind that dog walking doesn’t come with high pay, though. The average salary for dog walkers is just shy of $30,000 a year, and that is if you can build a nice client base. However, this can be a fantastic side job that pays bills and provides extra fun.

You don’t need any certifications or degrees to be a dog walker, but you do need to be very responsible. This is especially true if you’re taking care of several dogs at once. You have to keep track of which clients need their pets walked and when, and then plan out the most reasonable routes for you to take based on that.

Service Dog Trainer

Another very important and rewarding career is becoming a service dog trainer. Unlike a typical dog trainer who teaches obedience, a service dog trainer will teach your furry friend how to open doors for you or help you with certain medical conditions.

You will need to become a certified dog trainer by completing courses approved by Assistance Dogs International, Inc. Also, completing an apprenticeship to gain experience will help you further your knowledge in this career path.

You will need to be licensed or certified in some states, so make sure you look into your state’s regulations.

The average salary for a service dog trainer is $35,000 a year.

Petsitter

When it comes to jobs working with animals, here’s another that you don’t need certifications or degrees for. In fact, you can even combine it with dog walking to bring in more income!

Many people need to take trips out of town, whether that’s business trips or vacations. They feel more comfortable leaving their pets at home than boarding them in an unfamiliar kennel when they do. So they’ll pay pet sitters to visit or stay at their houses to ensure that their furry friends are ok for the duration.

Pet sitting can be a fun job to see what other people’s houses look like, plus you can interact with several different types of pets, from dogs and cats to guinea pigs and rats.

When pet sitting, you have several options for charging your clients: you can charge for 30-minute visits per day or night if they want you to stay the entire time. On average, pet sitters charge around $25 per 30-minute visit, $20 to $30 per day, or up to $75 per night.

Occasionally, some pet owners will have to be away for over a week. In that case, you can offer them a slight discount for your services. Most pet sitters charge up to $375 per week, depending on what’s needed.

Pet Store Associate

If you want to get some experience with several types of animals, starting with a pet store associate position can be a good idea. Customers will come in wondering about what they need to take care of their beloved pets. Your pet store might even sell some animals, such as small rodents, reptiles, or fish.

You won’t need prior experience, certifications, or degrees to become a pet store associate. But doing some reading up can be beneficial, so you can better help customers. You’ll also receive training on the job so you can expand your knowledge.

On average, pet store associates get paid around $9 per hour. But if you stay with the store and work your way up, you can potentially become a shift manager that’s paid $12 per hour.

Veterinarian

Becoming a veterinarian can be very rewarding; you will be a doctor for animals.

You’ll have to go to veterinarian school, which is like med school. Once you’re finished, you’ll have to get your DVM (doctor of veterinary medicine). Lastly, you’ll have to pass the NAVLE (North American Veterinary Licensing Examination) and then complete any additional requirements in the area you want to practice.

The median pay for vets is around $95,400 a year, so you’ll make an excellent living if you can put in the hard work to become this type of professional.

Vet Tech

After reading up about becoming a veterinarian, you might think it’s not the career path for you. But you still want to work with animals in a medical setting. In that case, think about becoming a vet tech, which is kind of like being a nurse.

Vet techs assist veterinarians with various procedures. Mostly, these techs draw blood, give medications, and also manage anesthesia during surgery. Another option worth mentioning is a vet assistant, who provides care by cleaning cages, feeding animals, and sanitizing exam rooms.

To become a veterinary technician, you’ll have to get an associate degree in veterinary technology. Then, you’ll have to pass the Veterinary Technician National Exam and become a member of the NAVTA (National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America). After this, you can then apply for jobs at veterinary clinics.

The average annual salary of a vet tech is around $32,700 per year.

Zoologist

If you had an interest in biology during high school and college, then you might’ve already taken some relevant classes. When pursuing a career as a zoologist, this can be immensely helpful.

Zoologists study various aspects of animals, such as their genetics, origins, diseases, and behaviors. Their main goal is to help protect animals and preserve their habitats. In contrast, a zookeeper works with wild animals that actually live in zoos.

To become a zoologist, you need a degree in zoology, animal science, or a related field. While the minimum requirement is a bachelor’s degree, you’ll stand a better chance of being hired if you get a master’s degree or Ph.D. Having some experience (such as through an internship) will give you an advantage too.

You can choose several careers as a zoologist, such as animal biologist, animal scientist, or even marine biologist.

The average pay for zoologists is around $63,200 a year.

Wildlife Rehabilitator

If you are looking for a rewarding career that works with animals, a wildlife rehabilitator might be perfect for you.

As a rehabilitator, you will work with many different kinds of animals. This could range from big cats like lions and tigers to small squirrels and opossums. You can also take care of these animals in the comfort of your home as a home rehabber. Some people prefer to focus on the rehabilitation and rescue of dogs and cats.

While there is no specific training required to become a wildlife rehabilitator, you will need extensive knowledge about the different species of animals in your care. The type of history, nutritional needs, any behavioral concerns, and habitat requirements are all necessary to safely care for wild animals. Volunteering at a wildlife rehabilitation center is a great way to get your feet wet in this wild career.

Rehabilitation of wild animals without proper permits is illegal. 

The annual average salary of a wildlife rehabilitator is around $47,700.

Marine Mammal Trainer

As a kid, were you always in awe of the dolphin trainers? The bond between humans and animals seemed magical, and as an adult, you feel like it still is! What better way to fulfill your childhood dreams than to become a marine mammal trainer?

To get into this career, you don’t need a bachelor’s degree. However, most trainers do have degrees, so you’ll stand a better chance at employment if you do too. You’ll need a related degree, such as marine biology or some other life science.

Simply keep an eye out for job opportunities and apply when you can. Having internship experience can be helpful, so consider getting one if you’re not having any luck with employment.

On average, marine mammal trainers get paid just under $32,000 a year.

Get Into These Careers Working With Animals

As you can see, there are numerous careers working with animals. While some require that you study hard and earn various degrees and certifications, others are easy to jump straight into.

So if you want to spend your time with fluffy animals that melt your heart or slithery snakes, consider the many jobs available that allow you to work with them. It’ll be fun and rewarding to go to work every day with your furry friends.

Jordan Fabel

Jordan Fabel

Covering different 'paths' that people's lives can take. Creative, foster parent, ticket dismissal, you get the idea. Exploring the requirements, certifications, exams, and obviously, approved courses along each path. I, personally, am the high school dropout son of two teacher parents. So how did I get here? That story takes more time. Coming soon!