Top Reasons to Pursue an Animal Career

Zoo employee sprays water into an elephant's mouth
Colin Davey/Getty Images

Animal careers are some of the most popular and rewarding options for job seekers, and they are often seen as “dream job” opportunities. Here are ten of the best reasons to consider pursuing an animal career:

1. Wide Variety of Career Paths

There are many different career paths in the animal industry. Options include veterinary and animal health careers, wildlife careers, canine careers, equine careers, sales careers, breeding and farming careers, and many more options that don’t fall neatly into one of the previously mentioned categories.

2. Daily Contact With Animals

Many jobs in this industry offer direct contact with animals on a daily basis. With positions ranging from aquarist to zoo keeper, there are career options that will allow you to work with nearly any type of animal.

3.  Steady Job Growth

Many animal career paths (particularly those concerned with animal health and animal care) are showing extremely accelerated growth as consumers demand more services for their pets. The U.S. pet industry is responsible for an impressive $58.5 billion dollars in spending according to the 2014 American Pet Product Association (APPA) survey statistics. Veterinary services, boarding, and grooming have all shown significant growth in recent years.

4. Jobs Available at Any Educational Level

Job seekers from a variety of educational backgrounds many find employment in the animal industry. Some jobs have no specific educational requirement, some require a GED or high school diploma, some require a college degree, and others require advanced graduate degrees and training.

There are also a variety of specialized certificate programs that require a few weeks to a few months to complete.

5. Practical Experience Is Greatly Valued

Many employers in the animal industry place even more emphasis on practical experience than they do on education. This is particularly the case in many areas of the equine industry, where practical skill is highly valued.

Students who complete hands-on internships can benefit from this emphasis on practical experience.

6. Variety of High Salary Career Options

While not all animal career paths command top dollar, there are many lucrative options in the industry that command $50,000 or more per year in compensation. These top paying careers include veterinary specialist, veterinary pharmaceutical sales representative, farrier, marine biologist, and zoologist. Veterinary specialists, with their advanced training and qualifications, pull in particularly high salaries—often in excess of $150,000 per year.

7. Many Part-time Career Paths

There are a number of animal career paths that individuals can pursue on a part-time basis (including options such as training, pet photography, massage therapy, and writing). A part-time position allows an individual to try out another career path while maintaining full-time employment in another role. These careers can also provide supplemental income.

8. Many Potential Employers

Individuals pursuing animal related careers can find employment with veterinary clinics, emergency clinics, research laboratories, a variety of government agencies, corporations, the military, museums, zoos, aquariums, animal parks, stables, racetracks, publishers, manufacturers, colleges and universities, farms, and a variety of other organizations.

Animal related jobs are available worldwide.

9. Every Day Is Different

No two days are alike when you work with animals. Animal professionals must readily adapt to change so that they are able to respond to emergencies, handle behavioral issues, and deal with any animal care situations that arise during the course of the day. The variety and unpredictability of working with animals can keep things interesting during the work day.

10. Working With Other Animal Lovers

Those who choose a career in the animal industry will have the opportunity to work with others who love animals. During the course of the work week, an individual may work in tandem with many other professionals (i.e. a zoo keeper may work regularly in conjunction with the zoo vet, zoo vet tech, curator, and commissary staff). Animal industry professionals tend to have a high level of job satisfaction, which in turn promotes a positive working environment.