Want to Make Animals Your Life’s Work? Discover Your Choices

By Paula Fitzsimmons

I’ll assume you’re reading this because you’re crazy about animals, and that you’d love to make a living based on this passion. But your choices may seem limited: Veterinarian. Dog walker. Pet sitter. Groomer. And let’s not forget . . . pooper scooper. These are some of the more common career titles you’ve probably come across while researching animal-centered jobs.

These can be fantastic career paths for some. And they’re quite important, too – what would this planet be like without vets and other animal care providers?

But these jobs are not for everyone. Few people have the type of determination it takes to put their lives on hold as they complete four (or more) years of grueling, intensive, and costly veterinary school and training.

And while taking care of other people’s companion animals may seem like the perfect proposition – and may very well be for some people – you may discover your skills, interests, and personality aren’t a good match.

The good news is, you have more options than you may think . . . starting with the following.  Note emphasis on starting. Put your mind to it, dig deeper, and I’d wager you can discover dozens of career paths you’ve perhaps not even thought of before. Consider this list, then use it as an inspiration to generate more job options.


Advocate for them

Look online at the employee directory or About page of any well-known nonprofit animal welfare organization . . . Humane Society of the US, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Born Free USA, ASPCA, to name a few. Here you’ll get an idea of some of the different types of positions these organizations hire for.

Lawyers, policy analysts, special program coordinators, data analysts, administrators, executives, science advisers . . . all are needed to effectively advocate for animals.


Care for them

Depending on available funding, animal sanctuaries, rescues, and shelters do hire paid employees. They rely on volunteers and consider them a vital part of the organization, yes, but they also need regular staff.  Sanctuaries never close, with animals depending on round-the-clock care.

Animal caretakers, facility workers, animal behaviorists, vet technicians are some of the positions you’re likely to find at sanctuaries.


Raise money for them

Whether a nonprofit is national or more regionally based, it can’t operate without funding. This is where your skills are needed.

Development directors, grant proposal writers, research prospectors, nonprofit copywriters, event coordinators, gift shop managers. Does anything on this list stand out for you? Read my article to learn more about fundraising as a career option.


Work to conserve them

Animals and the environment are facing unprecedented challenges. Climate change, deforestation, loss of habitat, ocean acidification, and wildlife trafficking threaten the lives of other species as well as our own. We need people who can study & analyze the problems, as well as develop solutions.

If you love science & care about conserving animals and their habitats, consider these careers: Wildlife biologists, ecologists, marine biologists, science advisers to nonprofits, field researchers.


Teach the world about them

The world needs people who are knowledgeable about animals, and who can effectively communicate about the different issues they face. The media world has expanded, no longer limited to just a few venues.

Environmental journalists & reporters, ebook writers, online content writers, documentary creators are all examples of communicators.

If you need help researching careers, some book, website, and other suggestions are listed on my Resources page. (Please note, that several of these are affiliate links.) Enjoy the journey!

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