If you were obsessed with animals as a kid and you grew up to be a full-blown animal person, you may have dreamt of working with animals professionally in some capacity. Caring for sick pets, playing with puppies, or getting to devote your life to studying a specific species might sound like absolute bliss! If you are a devoted dog-person, cat-person, or are fascinated by every creature on earth, then one of these jobs might be worth your consideration. Here is a list of great career options and the commitments it takes to achieve them.

  • Veterinarian: Animal loving children often dream of becoming an animal doctor one day. Becoming a veterinarian requires an undergraduate degree, followed by four years of veterinary school (along with a fair amount of volunteer work at animal shelters, clinics, etc.).
  • Veterinary Technician: This role is the equivalent of a nurse’s position at a human hospital, in that they provide support for the veterinarian. This requires an Associate’s Degree and a certification by the state before the technician is allowed to work with a vet.
  • Animal Behaviorist: A behaviorist trains animals, working closely with them and studying their temperamental and behavioral tendencies. Many behaviorists have graduate and doctorate degrees in subjects like animal sciences, focusing on one or two specific areas of a behavior, whether it is related to a specific breed, or unusual behavioral disorders, etc.
  • Animal Trainer: These individuals are not required to have a degree from a university, but credibility necessitates getting a training certification. Pet trainers work individually to help pet owners learn how to handle their pet, and get the best obedience and responses out of them. Trainers can be skills in obedience training, special needs, show-dog training, on-set film training, special tasks and tricks, etc.
  • Groomer: Many groomers get their training at trade schools, or by simply working as a groomer’s apprentice, or at pet stores or animal shelters. Though there are not official requirements for being a pet groomer, a voluntary certification can be achieved by those wishing to prove their skills in the trade.
  • Dog Walker: Dog walkers can be hired without certifications, though this is not recommended as the market is getting more and more competitive (especially in big cities). Dog walkers take dogs out for 30-60 minutes a day for their exercise, and get paid to do so. They can either walk dogs individually, or in groups, so long as the pet owners don’t mind. This is a great job for people who need flexible work schedules, and who love dogs.
  • Pet Sitter: Pet sitting requires no educational or traditional kind of certification. A positive personal and professional references would be required, along a list of any volunteer time at animal shelters, rescue homes, etc. Taking dog-training courses would also help aspiring pet sitters to have another selling point to add to their skill list, for pet owners that want to know their animal is in capable hands.

Other Animal-Centered Careers

  • Zoologist (requires an undergraduate as well as a graduate degree, to secure a position in a zoo, or animal welfare program).
  • Marine Biologist (requires an undergraduate as well as a graduate degree, usually for highly competitive research projects, education, legal, or regional positions).
  • Wildlife Photographer (works either full time for publications or as a free-lance photographer submitting photos for magazines, books, and websites or TV programs about animals.)
  • Wildlife Rehabilitator (helps rescue and care for injured or sick wild animals).
  • Animal/Pet Writer (working as a blog, writing, or journalist for animal related publications, etc.)
  • Worker at an animal shelter, doggy daycare, pet hotel, etc. (cares for visiting animals by washing, feeding, and brushing them, as well as noting their behaviors.)