Careers with Animals

If you adore animals, there are plenty of careers for you. Of course, there’s the classic calling of the veterinarian, but there are plenty of other options, too, for both the science- and research-minded and more relationship-minded alike.

Zoos and parks

Perhaps you are science-minded, and you want to know animals on a research-worthy level. With a degree in biology or zoology, you can open a range of careers that include jobs in zoos, aquariums, and wildlife parks. If you want to have hands-on time with animals, consider zookeeping or being a wildlife technician. Of course, these jobs aren’t easy, as they frequently require manual labor and sometimes around-the-clock monitoring. A zookeeping job usually requires daily care of animals and maintenance of their habitats. You’ll also need to monitor the animals’ health and behavior. If something goes awry, you may need to restrain them. If an animal is sick, a veterinarian will probably come in, but then it will be up to you to administer the procedures and treatments. Lots of these places also need horticulturalists who manage how plant life works with the animals and their habitats.

You may be interested in going into an educational position. These usually require a degree in a relevant field and experience with groups, especially children. While you don’t have to be a scientist, you do need to have a good knowledge base about flora and fauna and how the scientists, zookeepers, and other experts interact with the animals. Educational positions often work interpreting exhibits, hosting parties, and working promotional events.

You don’t have to be super science-y to work at these places, either; lots of them offer tour guide positions for which you just need to be responsible and informed. You might look at being an events or volunteer coordinator or administrator. Zoos and parks need financial, human resources, and marketing professionals just like any other organization.

Breeding and Training

You might prefer working with more “domestic” animals. If you’re interested in breeds and behavior, you might consider breeding and/or training animals. To become a trainer, some experts recommend building up “cred” by first training your own animal and then showing it and getting titles. While there are trainer schools out there, most trainers (at least dog trainers) are self-educated. Trainers need to have a strong knowledge of behavior, history of training, animal learning, and designing classes or “curriculum.”

Breeders compare sires and dams in terms of phenotype and genotype (physical appearance and genes, respectively). Breeders need strong knowledge, and many have gone to college and studied this area. Breeders may need to facilitate breedings via live cover or artificial insemination (especially for horses). They need to know how to handle offspring, such as foals or puppies, and keep strong health records. If you’re interested in this kind of work, research people or businesses who do this work–such as this Maryland-based breeder that lets buyers see their different puppies and choose a perfect pal–and reach out to them. Learn from long-time breeders who have experience. And remember, while you are striving to breed the “perfect” animal, there is truly no such thing as a “perfect” animal. Love them for the feeling creatures they are, not just for their “purity.”

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