Want to work with animals? Going to veterinary school is one viable option — but it’s far from the only one. It’s also not the only career for animal lovers that can boost your bank account.
If you’re committed to turning your love of animals into a career that extends beyond the medical realm, one of these nine jobs could be the perfect fit for you.
Median full-time salary: $116,486
Farriers specialize in all things horse hoof-related, starting with shoeing horses.
Farriers safely remove old horseshoes, trim the horse’s hooves, measure the horse’s feet for new shoes, apply the shoes, and customize the shoes to the horse’s feet.
Farriers also play a crucial role in detecting hoof and gait problems that could lead to lameness later on.
Since farriers need both blacksmithing and veterinary knowledge, it’s an ideal career for people who love working with their hands and who want to care for animals without being tied to an office.
If you end up working with racehorses, you could make over $200,000 a year as a farrier. Typically, though, you’ll earn closer to $100,000 a year. Part-time farriers earn a quarter of that amount, especially when they’re first starting.
Median full-time salary: $63,750
Are you passionate about protecting animals and their habitats?
As a conservation biologist, you would study ecosystems and endangered species, gathering the information you need to advocate for vulnerable animals and environments.
Your job would likely include lots of hands-on research as you document problems in the environment and come up with proactive solutions.
Median full-time salary: $28,730
Wildlife rehabilitators take care of injured or abandoned wildlife. You’d perform some basic veterinary and caretaking duties with the goal of nursing sick, injured animals back to health so they can re-enter their native environment.
Wildlife rehabilitators have different relationships with the animals they work with than domestic pet veterinarians. The goal is to have as little contact with wild animals as possible, preserving their wildness while providing care.
If you want to help wild animals survive without doing as much veterinary work, many rehabilitation centers need community outreach educators. In this role, you’d help communities understand how they can protect the ecosystems and animals around them.
Median full-time salary: $38,660
Unlike most of the other jobs on this list, park rangers don’t necessarily work with animals full-time. Instead, depending on where in the country they work, they juggle duties like directing tourists, hosting educational programs, and maintaining trails.
But park rangers have more opportunities than most to encounter all types of wildlife when they’re on the clock.
Like wildlife rehabilitators, park rangers might spend some time educating the public on ways to protect the environment.
And like conservation biologists, park rangers also play a crucial role in preserving the habitats wild animals need to survive.
Median full-time salary: $28,730
If you want a job that lets you interact with humans and their pets in equal measure, consider pet adoption counseling.
Adoption counselors usually work with shelters, reading through adoption applications to make sure pets go to the right homes for their needs. But an adoption counselor’s most important job is to maximize the chance that an adoption will last.
If you take this career route, you’ll spend most of your time helping potential owners and adoptees bond and understand each other.
Median full-time salary: $24,000
Did you grow up taking care of a pet goldfish? Then you already know what it’s like to be an aquarist in miniature.
These animal professionals specialize in taking care of fish and other underwater creatures typically found in aquariums.
Aquarists spend a lot of their time submerged in tanks, cleaning them, or installing and maintaining exhibits. (SCUBA certification is a must for this role.)
Most importantly, they feed and care for aquatic creatures, keep their tanks clean and water pure, and help teach visitors how to protect precious underwater environments themselves.
Median full-time salary: $66,350
If you’re not already familiar with snake venom milking, it might not sound like a real job — but it is.
Scientists and researchers need to collect snake venom to formulate lifesaving anti-venom solutions. Most medical researchers aren’t trained to handle snakes, especially venomous ones, so that’s where snake milkers come in.
As a trained snake milker, you’d work at a snake-centric lab or serpentarium. Along with learning how to carefully extract venom from snakes without harming them (or yourself), you’d likely assist in other snake-related tasks around the lab.
Depending on where you end up working, you could work on scientific papers, care for the snakes, or package and ship the venom to research centers across the country.
Media full-time salary: $28,060
Humans aren’t the only ones who need their hair and nails looked after regularly. Pets — specifically dogs — need a human who can wash and bathe them while providing a necessary trim every once in a while.
And some pets (or their owners) crave the full spa treatment, including painted nails, fancy hairstyles, and even the occasional fur dye job.
Pet groomers can work out of animal shelters, veterinary offices, or pet stores. You could even open your own pet grooming business, running it out of your home or as a mobile business.
You’d likely need to apprentice with a local pet groomer to get started, which might mean signing a non-compete promising not to poach your trainer’s clients.
Median full-time salary: $42,098
Traditional vets are usually a pet owner’s go-to option for medical care, but non-traditional medical providers certainly have a place as well.
Many pet owners want alternative medical treatments, like acupuncture, for their pets in need of pain relief.
As an animal acupuncturist, you’d need a solid understanding of both veterinary medicine and acupuncture, so the educational requirements for this job are quite high. As a result, it pays more than many of the careers on our list.
Despite the time and effort required to become a pet acupuncturist, it can be a rewarding career for people who want to improve the quality of life outcomes for pets in pain.
There isn’t just one career path that people who love animals have to follow. Instead, animal lovers can find stellar career options in nearly every field imaginable.
You can work with animals full-time, work equally with pets and their owners, or care for animals from afar by studying climate change and ecosystems.
No matter your interest, you can find an animal-centric career that pays the bills while helping you do what you love.
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