5 Rewarding Careers for Animal Lovers

Careers for animal lovers allow individuals to channel their concern for the health and welfare of these creatures into employment that not only offers them a steady paycheck but nourishes their souls.

If you have lots of patience, good manual dexterity, physical strength, and stamina paired with compassion and problem-solving skills, a career working with animals might be right for you. Here’s some interesting facts about some jobs for animals lovers that just might appeal to you.

Vet examines dog's eye

Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists

Zoologists and wildlife biologists study, research and analyze the habits and characteristics of animals, insects and other living organisms. This type of research can identify species in danger of extinction, halt the spread of invasive species, or manage animal populations to mention just a few of the benefits.

You might decided to pursue a career as a zoologist or wildlife biologist simply because you love animals or you might have a passion for one particular species or field of interest. For example, you might become a herpetologist because snakes fascinate you or an ornithologist because you love to study birds.

On the other hand, you could base your career path choices on where animals live, how they behave, or even how they interact with humans. There are lots of options from which to choose, and you can also decide if you will work indoors, outdoors or some combination of the two.

To become either a wildlife biologist or zoologist, you’ll need to earn a bachelor’s degree, and if you want to advance in the field or teach at the college level, you’ll need to earn your master’s and perhaps even a doctoral degree.

The median 2010 wage for these occupations was $57,430 per year. However, before you make a final decision on turning your love for animals into a lucrative career, be advised the BLS projects a 7% growth in this occupation for the next decade, which is slower than the average of 14%.

While this career path is not one of the fastest growing job choices at the present time, the emotional and mental satisfaction of working with the animals you love could more than compensate for that.


Veterinarians are the healthcare professionals of the animal kingdom. They may work with clients to diagnose, treat and recommend preventative care, or they may devote their efforts to research and innovation. They can be in business for themselves, in partnership with others or be employed by entities like zoos, universities, farms or laboratories.

In addition to obtaining a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree, most veterinarians also earn a bachelor’s degree, according to the BLS. While exact requirements depend upon the state in which they practice, all veterinarians must hold a state license to practice and may have to pass a national exam, a state exam or both. For those who choose to do so, certification can be obtained in specialties such as internal medicine or surgery.

The good news is the job growth potential for veterinarians is much higher than for zoologists or biologists. The BLS predicts a 36% growth in this field over the next ten years, and in 2010, the median yearly salary for veterinarians was $82,040.

Veterinary Assistants

Veterinary assistants perform various caretaking tasks for animals in veterinarian’s offices, animal hospitals, or animal clinics and work under the supervision of veterinary technicians, veterinary technologists, or veterinarians. Their duties may include but are not limited to:

  • Performing routine tasks such as cleaning cages, equipment and examination rooms or feeding and caring for patients after surgery
  • Assisting the veterinarian during patient examinations or giving injections or medications
  • Taking x-rays or collecting specimens for laboratory analysis

The median 2010 for veterinary assistants was $22,040, and job growth expectations for this occupation are average, with a project 14% growth over the next decade. Veterinary assistants must have a minimum of a high school diploma or the equivalent.

Veterinary Technologists and Veterinary Technicians

Veterinary technologists and veterinary technicians are to veterinarians what nurses are to doctors in terms of performing specialized tasks and providing assistance during examinations and surgical procedures.

The key difference between the two occupations lies in the degree of formal training. Veterinary technicians must obtain at least a two-year associate’s degree, while veterinary technologists must obtain a bachelor’s degree. Both must meet all their state credentialing criteria and work under the auspices of a licensed veterinarian.

Some typical tasks include collecting specimens for laboratory testing, preparing and monitoring patients during surgery, or administering medications or giving injections.

In terms of long-term job potential, these two occupations are worth serious consideration as the BLS projects a 52% job growth in the next 10 years and the addition of 80,200 new jobs. The 2010 median salary potential was $29,710.

Animal Care and Service Workers

Animal care and service workers is a general category used by the BLS that covers a wide range of possible job titles ranging from animal caretakers to marine mammal trainers. They may be self-employed or work at stables, veterinary offices or even zoological parks. In addition to feeding, grooming, exercising or just playing with their charges, they could be responsible for training these animals for shows or performance, riding or as service animals for the disabled.

The median salary in 2010 for animal care and service workers was $19,780 with a job growth projection of 23%.

Working with animals can be rewarding and fulfilling, but it can also be hard or even heartbreaking when an animal dies or must be euthanized. Individuals choosing one of these rewarding careers for animal lovers must be prepared to:

  • Work hard (restraining a Great Dane or a horse is no easy task)
  • Be patient when an animal does not understand commands or will not obey because of pain or fear
  • Stay compassionate under stress

While the risks and the potential for emotional pain are high, the rewards can be equally satisfying to the right type of personality.

If a job working with animals is not quite what you are looking for, you’ll find lots of tips on choosing the right college or the best career path by reading “Get Helping Finding a Career.”

Image courtesy of Poulson Photos/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/zoologists-and-wildlife-biologists.htm (visited April 16, 2013)

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Veterinarians,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/veterinarians.htm (visited April 16, 2013)

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/veterinary-assistants-and-laboratory-animal-caretakers.htm (visited April 16, 2013)

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Veterinary Technologists and Technicians,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/veterinary-technologists-and-technicians.htm (visited April 16, 2013)

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Animal Care and Service Workers,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/personal-care-and-service/animal-care-and-service-workers.htm (visited April 16, 2013)