Got a passion for animals, but not sure which career is right for you? Use the following list of career ideas for animal lovers to inspire you while you work out the pathway to your dream job.
1. Marine Biologist
Are you an animal lover with a special affinity for the creatures of the sea? If you’re filled with curiosity about the natural world, like to solve problems, and can swim, marine biology might be the career for you. Marine biology focuses on exploring creative solutions to persistent issues in the world’s watery spaces.
Some marine biologists work in conservation, for instance, tracking the habitats and movements of endangered species like whales and dolphins. Note, however, that most job titles are something other than ‘Marine Biologist’—such as Science Outreach Manager or Aquarist.
Veterinary science is a broad discipline with substantial potential for upward mobility. It can, however, take a long time to become a veterinarian, since students must attend at least 4 years at one of the nation’s professional veterinary programs. If you want to specialize, you’ll spend another 2 to 3 years in targeted residencies, too.
Not all veterinarians are general practitioners working directly with animals. Some investigate animal-borne diseases for epidemiological purposes. Others are employed by the government, for instance, to monitor the health of the country’s livestock and food supply. There is ample open-ended opportunity in this field.
3. Veterinary Technician
One compelling reason to skip becoming a full veterinarian is the comparatively short amount of time students need to spend in training to become a veterinary tech. You only need a 2- or 4-year degree to get your first job as an important part of the facility’s veterinary support staff.
As significant members of the veterinary healthcare team, vet techs may be veterinary nurses, lab technicians, surgical anesthetists, or independent consultants for consumers or veterinary businesses. You might assist in a zoo or wildlife park, aid research in a university setting, or work at a humane society for the welfare of animals. The choice is yours.
4. Animal-Related Business Owner
If you have a head for numbers and solid business sense, why not become a private business owner in an animal-related industry? Whether the interest is friendly local pooper scooper services or a bustling equine supply and tack shop, business owners are free to pursue their vision in a creative way for maximum profit.
If you’ve got an entrepreneurial spirit, try sketching out the rough draft of a business plan and see if it strikes your fancy. If you’re really serious about a career in business, you may want to consider getting a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) to enhance your chances of success.
5. Animal Behaviorist
Animal behaviorists are employed to—you guessed it—study the behavior of animals. This is a popular bioscience career that could find you examining single-celled organisms in the lab, or land you in the middle of the rainforest to investigate rare exotic species.
Whether you work for private industry, a nonprofit, or the government, there are plenty of ways to become involved in animal conservation in this field. You could, for instance, consult with firms and government entities on habitat changes expected as a result of encroaching development.
If you love working with animals and science, using methodical research and careful experimentation to solve tough real-world problems, consider becoming a zoologist.
Zoology is a broader field than animal behaviorism, though they are related. There is also significant overlap between zoology and marine biology. In each case, you’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree, although the most successful animal scientists earn Ph.D.s so they can conduct their own independent research projects.
7. Animal Control Officer
Animal control officers, also known as humane officers, help enforce animal-related laws in our communities. Animal control is an apt career for those deeply committed to protecting both animals and people from the harmful effects of animal injury, abuse, and abandonment.
Animal control can be a dangerous profession, yet it is rewarding. It affords one the opportunity to directly resolve cases of animal cruelty. In some states, animal control officers are even licensed to carry firearms for this purpose.
Beekeeping is an intriguing way to help protect the only insects that produce food for humans. Honey bees are responsible for pollinating approximately 90 percent of U.S. flowering crops, including almost all our fruits and vegetables. The labor of honey bees and the beekeepers who manage the hives upholds the base of our food system.
Beekeepers produce annual honey crops, and also deploy honey bees as pollinators across the agricultural sector.
With serious environmental problems now afflicting honey bees, from toxic pesticides to habitat destruction, beekeepers have a major role to play in the conservation of this critical species.
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for freshness and consistency.