12 jobs where you can work with animals, plus the salaries they pay


Love the idea of working with animals, but don’t have the resources or desire to go through vet school? You can still put your love of pets or wildlife to work in your career. Here are 12 jobs working with animals that can pay the bills for any animal lover. (Salaries are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Salary.com.)

Groomers help pets look their best by cleaning them, trimming fur and providing other services. Pay depends on skills, certifications, experience and which state you work in. The highest pay in each region typically going to specialists who provide boutique grooming services.

Here are the job details:

  • Median Salary: $34,702

  • Salary Range: $22,666 to $51,323

  • Minimum Qualifications: high school diploma or equivalent

How to become one: Typically, animal caretakers must have at least a high school diploma or GED. Most training takes place on the job, but some choose to study at a grooming school. Employers generally prefer candidates to have some experience working with animals.

2. Pet sitter and dog walker

Pet sitters and dog walkers care for pets while owners are traveling or unavailable. You might choose to work through a service that pays you as an employee or hire your own services out as a freelance dog walker or pet sitter. In the latter case, you may make more money per job but will also have to handle your own marketing and business administration expenses.

Also see: Here is the No. 1 highest paid, fastest-growing job in every U.S. state for 2019 — most of them are NOT in tech

Here are the job details:

  • Median Salary: $31,095

  • Salary Range: $20,211 to $45,826

  • Minimum qualifications: varies

How to become one: Employers may require a high school diploma or GED and some training or certification. However, if you want to freelance as a dog walker, you may just need experience and references, so concerned pet owners can learn more about you.

3. Veterinary assistant

Veterinary assistants work in a vet office, clinic or animal hospital helping veterinarians with animal care. They are responsible for assisting with routine tasks, which might include checking in patients or helping as the vet provides services.

Here are the job details:

  • Median Salary: $30,898

  • Salary Range: $19,431 to $43,072

  • Minimum Qualifications: high school diploma or equivalent

How to become one: If you want to become a veterinary assistant, you should at least have a high school diploma. Most veterinary assistants learn their trade on the job. Certification isn’t always required, but it could help you get promoted or obtain an advanced position.

4. Research animal caretaker

Laboratory animal caretakers work in labs with animal scientists, biologists or veterinarians. They feed, care for and monitor the well-being of lab animals.

Here are the job details:

  • Median Salary: $37,890

  • Salary Range: $35,215 to $46,105

  • Minimum Qualifications: high school diploma or equivalent

How to become one: Laboratory animal caretakers are required to at least have a high school diploma. Most laboratory animal caretakers learn their trade through on-the-job training. Certification isn’t required to become a laboratory animal caretaker, but some employers prefer it. Having a certification could also help you get promoted.

See: 9 unexpectedly high-paying jobs — some paying $110,000 or more

5. Animal trainer

Animal trainers are responsible for training animals for tasks such as riding, performance, obedience or assisting the disabled. They can also help animals become more comfortable with human interaction.

Here are the job details:

  • Median Salary: $30,430

  • Salary Range: $20,810 to $59,110

  • Minimum Qualifications: no formal education requirements

How to become one: There are no formal education requirements to become an animal trainer. Those who train animals usually receive on-the-job training. In addition, animal trainers can receive education through organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States and earn certificates or other credentials to help them move up in their careers.

6. Veterinary technician

Veterinary technicians perform medical testing with the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. They help diagnose an animal’s injury or illness and may also perform some routine procedures, such as ultrasounds, catheterization or EKGs, and administer anesthesia.

Here are the job details:

  • Median Salary: $35,308

  • Salary Range: $24,619 to $48,002

  • Minimum Qualifications: an associate degree

How to become one: Typically, you must complete at least an associate degree or get a certification from an accredited program. Depending on the state, you may need to pass an exam and become registered, licensed or certified. Many employers look for techs with at least some experience in the field, which means many vet techs start in an assistant position.

Read: Some pet owners are spending more than $2,000 a year on their dogs

7. Animal control worker

Animal control workers help ensure the proper treatment of animals, investigate cases of mistreatment, may help locate abandoned animals and may be called on to deal with nuisance animals of certain types.

Here are the job details:

  • Median Salary: $38,490

  • Salary Range: $23,160 to $58,220

  • Minimum Qualifications: varies by location

How to become one: Animal control workers are required to have a minimum of a high school diploma or the equivalent. Additional training usually takes place on the job. The National Animal Care & Control Association offers training programs. In addition, some states require certification in animal control.

8. Conservation and forest technician

Conservation and forest workers help keep track of wildlife, gather data, suppress forest fires and work to improve the health of forests. They may lead guided tours or help train others in managing natural habitats.

Here are the job details:

  • Median Salary: $39,180

  • Salary Range: $26,160 to $56,410

  • Minimum Qualifications: high school diploma or equivalent

How to become one: In many cases, all you need is a high school diploma. You receive on-the-job training, but you can potentially advance your career with certifications or degrees in various sciences.

9. Breeder

Breeders select and breed animals according to characteristics and genealogy. They may use artificial insemination equipment and need to keep meticulous records on animal health, genetics, dates of birth and family history.

Here are the job details:

  • Median Salary: $46,420

  • Salary Range: $26,030 to $69,550

  • Minimum Qualifications: high school diploma or equivalent

How to become one: Animal breeders are required to have a minimum of a high school education. In addition, breeders learn their skill through short-term on-the-job training. Those who want to breed zoo animals are required to have a bachelor’s degree in veterinary science and, depending on career goals, may also want to pursue postgraduate study in zoology.

10. Biological technician

Biological technicians help medical scientists in the laboratory. They are responsible for the setup, operation and maintenance of laboratory equipment. They also monitor experiments.

Here are the job details:

  • Median Salary: $49,110

  • Salary Range: $29,540 to $73,350

  • Minimum Qualifications: bachelor’s degree

How to become one: Biological technicians generally need a bachelor’s degree in biology or a similar field. Technicians must also acquire laboratory experience and a working knowledge of computers and lab equipment.

11. Zoologist and wildlife biologist

Zoologists and wildlife biologists study how animals and wildlife interact with their environment. They may also help care for animals in captivity.

Here are the job details:

  • Median Salary: $67,200

  • Salary Range: $38,880 to $101,780

  • Minimum Qualifications: bachelor’s degree

How to become one: A bachelor’s degree is necessary for those seeking entry-level positions. A master’s degree is usually required for advanced or scientific positions. Those who want to lead independent research or work at a university might want to consider a doctoral degree.

Also see: Industrial meat is spreading disease, killing workers, ruining the environment

12. Conservation scientist

Conservation land managers work with conservation groups, landowners or other entities to protect specific wildlife and land. Often, they do so because the area is a habitat for certain animals, particularly endangered animals.

Here are the job details:

  • Median Salary: $67,040

  • Salary Range: $39,270 to $98,060

  • Minimum Qualifications: bachelor’s degree

How to become one: Conservation scientists usually need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, preferably in natural resource management, agriculture or another related field. Experience can be gained through internships and volunteer work. Some states require those desiring to become foresters to obtain a license.

Start working now to land a job working with animals

First, check out resume services at job sites, and bring out the most relevant facts in your work history. Get tips and help polishing your resume so it shines when it hits employee inboxes or application systems. Then, upload your resume online to ZipRecruiter or other hiring resource and start connecting immediately with employers who are looking for people with a passion for jobs working with animals.



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