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20+ Cool Careers With Animals (That Pay Well)

Are you interested in working with animals? Ready to get out from behind a typical desk job and head outdoors to study wildlife, take samples, or rescue injured animals? Jobs involving animals aren’t limited to veterinary clinics or zoos. You may find yourself diving into the depths of the ocean or traversing forests to enforce regulations.

An animal worker inspects the eye health of a kitten

Jobs that help animals are in no short supply. Due to global changes, land development, and natural disasters animals are often displaced from their owners or habitats. There is much work to do when it comes to conservation, relocation, and animal care.

We’ve put together a list of animal-related jobs, including high paying jobs working with animals, and the education requirements needed to kickstart each career. Learn about these impactful professions and how they can make a difference.

Careers Working With Animals

There are many careers involving animals for pets and wildlife lovers. When deciding how to work with animals, many often look to veterinary careers. While there are many veterinary specializations and career options, there are also several other types of animal-related jobs to consider.

Perhaps you’re passionate about wildlife rehabilitation or instead, you may be looking for one of the numerous unusual animal jobs such as a snake venom milker. We’ve compiled an animal careers list describing the many types of animal jobs out there.

Infographic depicting the average and top wages for the highest paying careers working with animals

Careers in Animal Rescue

Those with a passion for wildlife conservation may find their calling in animal rescue. Animal rescue jobs are so much more than caring for injured and orphaned animals. While ensuring these animals are rehabilitated, planning is also necessary for their eventual release back into the wild. Other animal rescue career opportunities are available for overseeing education and volunteer programs.

A baby sea turtle in a bowl held by a human

While a college degree isn’t required to work in animal rescue, it is encouraged. Not only can a degree open many doors career-wise, but it may also be necessary for some higher-level roles in medicine and research. Animal rescue workers must be willing to work in a variety of environments. Time will be spent outdoors when on a rescue and when it comes time for release in the wild. Therapy, surgeries, and other procedures will be completed in an animal center.

Recommended Degree Program: B.S. in Animal Health and Behavior

Veterinary Careers

There are many different areas a veterinarian may specialize in. For example, a wildlife veterinarian will work with a variety of wildlife, including exotic species. On the other hand, a small animal veterinarian is most likely to work with domesticated cats, dogs, and birds. A career as a veterinarian requires a considerable amount of education. Vets must have a four-year degree, continue on to complete a doctorate program, and finally, pass a state exam to become licensed.

Other veterinarian careers to consider that require fewer years of college are veterinary technicians and veterinary assistants. Both are key roles in caring for and treating animals with responsibilities from assisting with exams, filling prescriptions, and updating records. Communication, compassion, and critical thinking are essential skills and traits to be successful in a veterinary career.

Recommended Degree Program: B.S. in Animal Health & Behavior

  • Veterinarian (Read more below)
  • Veterinary Technician
  • Veterinary Assistant

Jobs Working With Wild Animals

Working with wild animals is certainly not for the faint at heart. These individuals must have a true passion for animals and wildlife preservation. While some wildlife workers may specialize in one or two types of animals, others may work with a variety of wildlife, from snakes to tigers. Due to the nature of work, these individuals must be highly-detailed, excellent communicators, and must be in good physical condition.

Jobs in wildlife may require that work be completed in a variety of environments. Some days may be spent outdoors, others in a conservation habitat, and some days office or lab work may be necessary. Wildlife careers aren’t solely for those wanting to work directly with animals. There are many administrative career options as well such as project planning and managing educational programs.

Recommended Degree Program: B.S. in Wildlife Conservation

Jobs Working With Aquatic Animals

Do you enjoy being in or near the water? If so, aquatic animal-related jobs may be a great fit for you. These workers may find themselves by the ocean, at an aquarium, marine park, or even on dry land. Some aquatic jobs may require scuba diving deep into the ocean or a tank at an aquarium, but not all aquatic careers require that you get wet.

An aquarist with marine life in an aquarium

To be successful in working with aquatic animals, one must be curious-minded and observant. After all, you want to know where a whale, shark, or dolphin might be while swimming in their tank.

There are many careers an aquatic animal worker may pursue. Marine mammal trainers will often work with dolphins and whales at parks and zoos. Aquarists may be responsible for a variety of fish at aquariums. Those who prefer to keep their feet dry may opt to work at a museum. These workers typically have a bachelor’s degree at minimum in addition to other certifications such as scuba diving and CPR.

Recommended Degree Program: B.S. in Marine Biology

Jobs Working With Dogs

For all you dog lovers, there are many potential careers working with dogs. These types of jobs require a high level of energy and plenty of patience. Dogs love activity and some have a hard time holding still. Physical strength is a must as well in case you have to carry a dog or are out for a walk with a leash-puller.

A college degree isn’t typically required to work with canines, but it is helpful. In a degree program, you’ll acquire and build many useful skills such as animal behavior, training, and how to treat illnesses and injuries – and may advance into advanced roles faster.

There are many ways to find careers with dogs. Dog walkers and sitters may find postings on job boards or in apps geared toward pet care. Groomers can find jobs at pet stores or might even consider starting their own business. Police dog handlers usually have a degree in criminal justice and begin with years of training in the field as an officer.

Recommended Degree Program: B.S. in Animal Health & Behavior

  • Dog Walker
  • Groomer
  • K9 Unit Officer/Trainer

Unusual Animal Jobs

Perhaps you’re looking for a more unique role. There are many jobs for animal lovers that are little-known, yet make a big difference. What are some of these unusual jobs with animals?

A relocation worker will move animals from overcrowded or kill shelters to other no-kill facilities. For those looking for something on the wild side, consider becoming a snake venom milker. These workers extract venom from snakes to make anti-venom to treat snake bites in both humans and other animals.

Milking a snake: Image by Alexandra Lysenko from Pixabay

Even with the best handlers, animals can be unpredictable. Having careful attention to detail is a must when working with any animal, wild or domesticated. Workers in even the most unusual types of jobs must have a passion for animal welfare. Whether a college degree is required is dependent on the job. However, completing a degree program will enhance skills and can help you develop your career.

Recommended Degree Program: B.S. in Wildlife Biology

  • Snake Venom Milker
  • Relocation Worker
  • Animal Scientist

When considering a career path, salary often becomes a factor. Many jobs with animals that pay well are geared toward research, science, and conservation. Money may not be as much as a priority to some, but living expenses don’t go away. You can certainly earn a decent salary while following your passion for working with animals. Take a look at the animal science careers list and salaries to get a better idea of job outlook and pay.

Wildlife Biologist

Wildlife biologists spend much of their time out in the field, making it a great occupation for those with a love for the outdoors and travel. During these travels, biologists study animal behaviors and how they interact with humans, other animals, and their habitats. Much of their field research involves conducting experiments to make these discoveries.

Wildlife biologists can be found in the office or lab on occasion, studying specimens, or creating reports. Most wildlife biologist jobs require a bachelor’s degree at a minimum with some employers preferring a graduate degree and even a Ph.D. for higher-level research and lab work.

  • Average Salary (2018): $63,420 
  • Currently Employed in the U.S (2018): 19,300
  • Projected Demand (2018-28): 5%
  • Recommended Degree Program: B.S. Wildlife Biology

Veterinarian

A veterinarian is one of the highest paying animal careers. There are many different types of veterinary jobs. Mixed practice veterinarians work with both small and large animals, domestic or exotic. Others may specialize in working with companion animals such as dogs and cats.

A sleeping dog is monitored by a veterinarian: Image by Mirko Sajkov from Pixabay

Some veterinarians may opt to work in research, studying diseases and other illnesses to find medicine and cures. Many of the highest paying veterinary jobs are in research. Below is a partial list of veterinary careers:

  • Small Animal Veterinarian
  • Veterinary Surgeon
  • Veterinary Pathologist
  • Zoo Veterinarian

What does it take to become a veterinarian? After completing a bachelor’s program, the next step is to earn a postdoctoral degree. It doesn’t end there; veterinarians must also pass an exam to become licensed in order to practice in their state. Although it takes several years to become one, a veterinary career is one of many rewarding and impactful animal care jobs.

  • Average Salary (2018): $93,830 
  • Currently Employed in the U.S (2018): 84,500
  • Projected Demand (2018-28): 18% (Faster Than Average)
  • Recommended Degree Program: B.S. Animal Health & Behavior

Zoologist

Zoology is another one of the many careers with animals that have a variety of specialties. With each specialty comes varying responsibilities. Some zoologists may focus on how global changes are impacting wildlife. Others may focus on the diet and migration of a species. By studying the habits of wildlife, zoologists have an important and influential role in the conservation of wildlife, particularly with animals nearing extinction.

A man holding a large bird of prey

Most entry-level animal jobs in zoology require a college degree. Many zoologists opt to take a program specific to zoology while others may choose a broader program of study such as biology. Post-college, zoologists may find themselves working with animals at a zoo or out studying wildlife in their natural habitats. Others may prefer working in a museum or educational facility with students and the public.

Conservation Officer

A conservation officer plays an important role in protecting wildlife habitats. Although a conservation officer may occasionally come in contact with animals to relocate them or assist with an injury, they typically don’t work directly with animals. These officers instead ensure that laws are followed by visitors to parks and forests. One example of this is a game warden enforcing hunting and fishing regulations.

A love of the outdoors and criminal justice is a must to be successful as a conservation officer. Having a four-year degree in a related field along with criminal justice training is useful. New officers can gain experience through internship and volunteer programs.

Conservation Biologist

The curious and scientifically-minded may thrive in a career as a conservation biologist. These biologists serve as advocates for endangered species, habitat loss, and the impact of global changes. Through research and science, biologists strive to protect wildlife, their habitats, and the planet as a whole.

A person with penguins in the arctic: Photo by Suzan Kiršić

The completion of a bachelor’s program is beneficial for a successful career as a conservation biologist. Through such programs, you’ll develop valuable research and analysis skills. Several years of work experience is required for most jobs. Many aspiring biologists gain experience through internship and volunteer opportunities. After completing their degree program, conservation biologists most often will find work at government agencies and non-profit organizations.

Next Steps…

Are you still thinking ‘I want to work with animals’? Not only are there many careers with animals that pay well, but they also create a positive impact. You can go home at the end of the day satisfied knowing that your work is making a difference.

How can you get started in animal-related jobs? Get in touch with Unity College to discuss how our degree programs can accelerate your career. Explore our careers and outcomes to learn more about career paths working with animals.

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