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Careers for Animal Lovers & Other Zoological Types, Second Edition [Secure eReader]
eBook by Louise Miller

eBook Category: Business
eBook Description: Many career options are available to committed and compassionate individuals willing to dedicate themselves to the well-being of animals, both wild and domesticated, large and small. Careers for Animal Lovers helps you explore a variety of career choices requiring a range of education and training.

eBook Publisher: McGraw-Hill Companies/VGM Career Books, Published: 2002
Fictionwise Release Date: September 2002


A Career for Every Animal Lover

Animals, like people, don't change much over the years. We still have the same basic needs as our ancestors. We all need food, a place we can call home, a family and social life, training to enable us to survive in our habitat, health care, and protection. Animals, like people, come in all shapes and sizes, and their needs are met in different ways.

In the wild or in the ocean, parents fulfill primal needs until the young ones are ready to take care of themselves. Domestic animals and those in zoos or aquariums have some of these needs taken care of by humans. But because of the variety of species and the scope of fulfilling those needs, people who are animal lovers can find a wide variety of opportunities in choosing careers.

How Do I Know If I'm an Animal Lover?

And how do you know whether you would like to devote your working life to animals? There may be some signs in the patterns of your life that would be clear indications. At the top of the list is that you are the one in your family who is always bringing home some stray cat or dog to take care of, even on a temporary basis. Or maybe you'd rather go to the zoo or aquarium than go to a movie or a ball game. If your bookshelf is filled with books about pandas or bears or lions, that might also be a sign. If you love long nature walks in the woods and bring your camera along to take pictures of the birds and other animals, you might see that as an indication that you might have found your career without even looking for it.

These indications don't always come at an early age. Sometimes a person is gainfully employed as an insurance agent and gets his or her first dog at age twenty-five or thirty. Then the one-time insurance agent spends all spare time with the dog, finds friends who are dog owners, and suddenly knows that fate has provided a new message -- to become a dog trainer.

Since there is such a wide variety of animals, there is a wide variety of possible careers, some dealing directly with the animals, some administering shelters or protective agencies, and some that are considered creative. Others still are with private businesses, while other careers are concerned with conservation of habitats and species on a national or regional level.

Let's Take a Little Test

If any of these indications seem to apply to you, you might want to answer the following questions, which will home in on the type of career that may suit you best:

1. Do I genuinely care about the welfare of animals?

2. Am I willing to work long hours doing stressful work?

3. Will I be happy living on a modest income?

4. Am I willing to spend several years on education and training?

5. Can I show empathy with people in times of grief?

6. Do I have physical and mental strength and energy?

7. Can I exercise good judgment and solve problems under difficult circumstances?

8. Am I reliable and compassionate?

9. Do I have up-to-date computer, organizational, and communication skills?

10. Am I willing to relocate to areas where jobs are available?

If you could answer "yes" to all or most of these questions, you are ready to look at the opportunities available to the animal lover in you.

What Kinds of Careers Are Available?

Based on the preceding questions, you will now have to assess your own preferences regarding career choices. You will have to decide if you want to deal directly with animals or be an administrator, creative person, or business owner catering to the needs of animals. You will have to decide whether you want to work in the public or private sector. And you will have to decide how much time you are willing to devote to training and education.

Some jobs will allow you to work with animals and make important decisions about their health and welfare, life and death. Others will require you to enforce laws regarding their safety, to keep records on their vital statistics, or to see to it that they are properly nourished.

You might decide that your talents lie in painting, photographing, or writing about animals. You could decide to exhibit those works in a gallery or magazine. Or you might create a whole new category of career based on your own talents and the animal needs you identify. New technological advances are creating new career choices in all fields, so the future is wide open. Let's take a look at some of those choices.


When most people think of a medical caretaker, they think of the local "vet." Whenever the family dog or cat gets sick or needs altering or spaying, the person we call to make things better is the veterinarian. Veterinarians in private practice are in every community to help protect the health and well-being of pets and to educate the owners on proper pet care and nutrition.

Veterinarians are also found in zoos and aquariums, in the classroom, in research laboratories, in regulatory agencies, in public health facilities, in the armed forces, in scientific agencies, and in wildlife management. They can also practice in humane shelters, at racetracks, on fur ranches, and at circuses. Some write pet advice columns for newspapers or magazines, conduct informational television shows, or prepare videotapes on the care or training of animals.

Veterinary Technician

Working alongside the veterinarian is the veterinary technician (commonly known as a vet tech). These animal workers are licensed and can prepare animals for surgery and administer anesthetics under the supervision of the veterinarian. These technicians often have degrees in biology or zoology and are the most highly skilled assistants to the veterinarian.

Animal Attendant

Animal, or kennel, attendants maintain the animals on an everyday basis by feeding and watering them, cleaning their cages or stalls, and washing their food dishes. Animal attendants also watch for changes in animal behavior as possible symptoms of disease. They exercise the animals and check their environments for safety.


Other caretakers work with the animal's personality problems in order to correct behavioral disorders, such as temperament, incompatibility with other animals, and destructive tendencies. They generally work in private practice or clinics, but because this is a fairly new field, they may routinely be employed at shelters, zoos, aquariums, and racetracks in the future.

Protective Agencies

Many animal lovers go into animal work to provide shelter, to protest abuse, to educate the public about the needs and rights of animals, and to help protect endangered species. Protective agencies deal with both domesticated animals and wildlife, in cities and in rural areas. Protective agencies employ both paid administrative and clerical staff members and also rely heavily on volunteers.


Trainers of both domesticated and wild animals have the skills to teach animals to obey their commands. They are employed by pet owners, police or military organizations, movie and television producers, guide dog services, zoos, circuses, aquariums, and racetracks.


Groomers often are kennel operators and pet suppliers. Some also train animals. They usually confine their businesses to dogs, although some groom cats, too. Grooming service includes clipping nails, cleaning ears and teeth, bathing, clipping and trimming, and brushing and combing. Supplies sold at groomers' shops include collars, flea products, food, brushes, and combs.

Pet Sales and Service

If you want to specialize in selling pet products, you will have to love pets, including dogs, cats, fish, and birds, and should enjoy dealing with and advising pet owners. Store owners know something about pet behavior, nutritional needs, play needs, and habitat.


Many career opportunities exist in zoos, including zoo director, curator, veterinarian, veterinary technician, and zoologist. Zoos also employ curators of exhibits, research, and education. Many zoos also have business managers and staff for the public relations department and gift shop, in addition to clerical workers.


Aquariums are generally headed by a director and often an assistant director. Most will also employ a general curator and specific curators for different collections. Veterinarians may be on the staff or be on call as needed. Aquariums also hire aquarists (aquarium zoologists) and librarians.

Creative Careers

Creative career possibilities in animal work range from pet and wildlife artist to writer, designer, and photographer. Illustrators are needed to prepare exhibits, charts, teaching aids, textbook designs, magazines, and educational programs. Photographers show their own work or sell to magazines and book publishers. Other artists specialize in pet portraits or paintings of wildlife.

Writers are employed by magazines and book publishers. They may write for children, adults, or specialists. Other creative people build cat condominiums or elaborate dog houses.

Pet Sitters and Pet Walkers

Pet sitting is a fast-growing industry because so many people own pets and because many two-income families are taken away from the home more often on business trips. You can be a pet sitter full-time or part-time. You will be expected to take care of dogs, cats, birds, and fish, as well as ferrets, rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, and snakes. Many pet sitters also water plants, walk the dogs, bring in the mail, and make security checks on the homes of the people who are away.

Pet Transporter

Some pet shop owners or kennel operators have branched out into the pet transport industry. This usually includes taxi service to and from the airport but could include trips to the veterinarian or other health-related trips. The airport pickup and delivery service is especially helpful when the owner must arrive home after the pet. Transporters will often provide a boarding service for the pet until the owner arrives home.


Bird lovers can find careers in research, education, and administration. Professional ornithologists work in universities and colleges, in state or federal agencies, in museums, and for conservation and consulting organizations.

Conservation and Wildlife Management

Both state and federal agencies employ workers in wildlife research, biology, population monitoring and management, and habitat management, or as fish and game wardens and interpreters. Private associations and not-for-profit agencies dealing with wildlife employ directors, legal counsel, corporate planning officers, financial officers, training directors, fund-raisers, and membership and publications directors.

U.S. Department of the Interior

Jobs with the federal government are often scarce, but opportunities exist for biological science professionals and wildlife refuge managers. Others can work in interpretive or educational programs or as a special wildlife agent to investigate and enforce fish and wildlife laws.

Various administrative, clerical, and secretarial positions are available through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as openings for special program workers. Some fishing and wildlife technicians are also employed, as well as equipment operators and craftspeople and maintenance technicians.

Animal-Related Businesses

In addition to being a pet shop owner, breeder, product salesperson, or feed supplier, which we are all familiar with, other opportunities for businesses related to animals exist and offer seemingly endless possibilities. They range from leading safaris in Africa to selling gourmet foods to "yuppy" puppies, from running pet insurance companies to pet cemeteries, from practicing cat astrology to tattoo registry, from renting guard dogs to jog with clients in the park to providing retired racing animals to private owners. According to your business experience or inclination, market needs, and changes in popular tastes, you can fairly well invent, contrive, combine, and create a new career track. Only your imagination (and perhaps a few local ordinances!) will limit you in your pursuit of the perfect career.

Copyright © 2001 by VGM Career Books

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