We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Jobs Involve Working with Animals?

Dan Cavallari
Updated Feb 21, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

When one thinks of working with animals, the job that most likely comes to mind is that of a veterinarian. Such a job requires a fair amount of schooling and a passion for the welfare of animals, though other jobs working with animals are available which require less formal education. On the job training may be sufficient to become an animal groomer, for example, and little formal education will be necessary to obtain such a position. Other jobs, such as zookeeper positions and conservationists, will require more education.

A veterinarian is a person who diagnoses injuries and illnesses in a wide variety of animals and treats those illnesses or injuries when possible. A veterinarian will spend a significant amount of time each day working with animals, but he or she will also need to work closely with other staff as well as pet owners. If the animal doctor works at a clinic, he or she is likely to treat domesticated animals such as cats, dogs, birds, and even reptiles, though he or she is less likely to work with wild animals. Some veterinarians work for zoos or other conservation areas, in which case he or she may work with larger animals that have been placed in captivity. Working with animals in such a setting can be dangerous, so the veterinarian will need additional training to ensure safety.

Marine biologists study animals that live in water, which means formal education in the form of a bachelor's degree or higher will be necessary to work in this field. Marine biologists may end up working with animals directly, or they may end up doing research without directly contacting animals. Other biologists may perform similar functions on dry land rather than in the water, studying land animals rather than aquatic life.

Sometimes one of the most difficult jobs working with animals is preventing direct contact with animals in the first place. Park rangers and attendants must often educate visitors about proper treatment of animals and give uninformed guests insight as to how animals live and why they should be left alone in their natural habitats. Some park rangers are responsible for repairing or preserving those habitats as well, thereby ensuring the safety and well being of a particular animal or group of animals. Conservationists often perform similar tasks, though they may have a more active hand in forming laws that protect wildlife and habitats as well.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Dan Cavallari
By Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari, a talented writer, editor, and project manager, crafts high-quality, engaging, and informative content for various outlets and brands. With a degree in English and certifications in project management, he brings his passion for storytelling and project management expertise to his work, launching and growing successful media projects. His ability to understand and communicate complex topics effectively makes him a valuable asset to any content creation team.
Discussion Comments
By FernValley — On Jul 31, 2011

One of my best friends got a couple of different internships at zoos, and it is a great option for people who are interested in working with animals in a serious way.

For many of these internships at zoos, you might need no more than a college degree or even just be working at a college degree- scientific courses help, but are not necessary. My biologist friend was working alongside an English major.

If you do well at one internship, you can usually get another fairly easily; after a few you might even be able to get something more along the lines of an apprenticeship, working towards being a real full-time and permanent employee, working with animals in a serious way.

It's also great because there are options including both research behind the scenes and education or entertainment with the zoo's visitors.

By fingered — On Jul 31, 2011

Using horses and dogs as part of a therapy plan is not widely known but it has been known to have wonderful results. Very often patients find that they can relate better to animals than other people since of course, animals don't judge or lose their patience.

Keep in mind that to apply to hippotherapy jobs, candidates should have some knowledge of working with horses, including how to groom and tack them. For a horse-lover, it's a lovely job, especially when seeing how the patients progress as a result of the therapy.

By EricRadley — On Jul 31, 2011

@jonrss - I'm really glad that you mentioned that. So many people assume that working with animals mostly involves playing with cute, fuzzy creatures, when in reality it can often be very heartbreaking. Many animal-related jobs usually require a educational background in animal biology.

It's definitely not for people who are squeamish or those who cannot bring themselves to deal with things like blood, pain and death. The work can be mentally and emotionally demanding but also very rewarding.

By geekish — On Jul 30, 2011

@runner101 - My sister is not sure yet! She is actually doing a jobsearch just to look at the type of careers currently offered!

I think part of what keeps throwing her is that she knows that so often there is so much more to working with animals than just simply that - getting to spend time with and care for animals.

For example, we have a friend who does hippotherapy; which is using horses for therapy. It can be used for children with disorders such as autism and help them with socialization and new experiences to children with cerebral palsy who gain some physical as well as fun benefits from the therapy.

As with many jobs with animals, this local hippotherapy camp is nonprofit so she knows she would need to do some fundraising as a part of working there, and that makes her a bit nervous!

So for right now she is going to keep searching and see what fits her strengths.

By runner101 — On Jul 29, 2011

@geekish - That is a great idea to get a little experience in before diving fully into a career path. She might even simply find she has allergies that she didn't know about if she hasn't had many pets.

At many animal shelters they do require training, but they will train you themselves on how they would like you to care for their animals and what the different tasks they may want you to do.

What kind of career with animals is she thinking of?

By geekish — On Jul 29, 2011

My sister is thinking about a career with animals, but before she dives in she is trying to get experience elsewhere.

I love the idea of being a dog walker, because as a pet owner it is difficult to get daily walks in for your dog and it would be a win-win for the person making money walking the dog and for the dog!

I also love the idea of her working or volunteering at an animal shelter, because just as described by so many people here; I feel working at an animal shelter would give her both the opportunities for the warm and fuzzy moments working with animals but also some of the tougher parts of working with animals.

Does anyone know if she needs training before she does some volunteer work with animals?

By shell4life — On Jul 28, 2011

I lived in a college town for a few years after I graduated, and I made a living walking dogs. While seeking a full-time job as a graphic designer, I supported myself just fine by doing this.

In this town, most of the people live in condos and apartments. There is a leash law, and you can’t let your dog run free, even in the park. I saw that there was a definite need for a good dog walker, so I advertised in the local paper and online.

Within my first week, I had fifteen clients. Most of them left me a key somewhere and let me walk the dogs by my own schedule. This worked best, because many dogs become aggressive or fearful when walked alongside strange dogs.

By Perdido — On Jul 27, 2011

After having worked at a vet clinic for 6 years, my sister had gained extensive knowledge of basic animal care. The vet had allowed her to help administer shots and do grooming. After so much exposure to the processes as his assistant, she was ready to take on a role as vet technician.

When she and her husband moved four hours away, she quickly found a job at a large vet’s office. She started out demonstrating her skills lightly, and once that new vet became confident in her ability, she took on a more active role in animal care. For her, the job is ideal. She gets to combine her love of animals with her career.

By cloudel — On Jul 26, 2011

A trained marine biologist, my brother-in-law knows water creatures inside and out. I would love to have the knowledge of aquatic life that he holds.

After the oil spill of 2010, he had to go down to the Gulf Coast to evaluate the effects of oil on the wildlife. He helped gather and rescue some animals. Mainly though, his job involved examining them, collecting data, and analyzing that data.

His knowledge comes in useful in fresh water, too. We went to a family gathering at a lake, and a strange, blobby, pink mass floated by attached to a stick. Everybody but him freaked out, but he told us exactly what it was.

By lighth0se33 — On Jul 26, 2011

I worked as a receptionist and office assistant at an animal clinic for about two months. I loved animals, but the work just was not for me.

Though most of my duties involved things like answering phones and booking appointments, I also had to walk dogs out back and let them do their business. This didn’t bother me. Cleaning the cages did.

We had a big dog come in with a severe case of diarrhea. He covered his cage with it, and I had to spend a lot of time cleaning the mess. It made me sick at my stomach, and I knew I could not handle that job anymore.

By jonrss — On Jul 25, 2011

I worked at animal control one summer and let me tell you, it was a sad job. You have to see a lot of animal at their worst. And not just cats and dogs. We saw birds, pet squirrels and pigs, even a monkey once. In some case you save these animals lives but in a lot of cases they die or have to be put down. I was a serious animal lover before I started the job and I had to leave because of that. I just couldn't confront the reality of the situation. I'm glad that someone is able to do that work even if it is not me.

By nextcorrea — On Jul 24, 2011

There are lots of unexpected jobs that end up working with animals from time to time. I used to work in a library in St. Louis and once a week they had a program in the children's area called Paws for reading.

It worked like this. Animals from a local shelter who had been identified as having particularly calm and social personalities would be brought into the library for a couple of hours. Kids could come and sit with the dog and read out loud to it. The thinking was that the kids would have more confidence reading to a dog because it would not react to or correct their mistakes. It seemed to work. A lot of kids got better at reading over the course of the program and a lot of lonely dogs got attention.

As the librarian I supervised the program and I spent a lot of time with the dogs. I think it was as much fun for me having them there as it was for the kids. You wouldn't think of librarians dealing much with animals but it does come up occasionally.

By Bhutan — On Jul 23, 2011

I agree with you and I want to add that animals also offer a lot of therapeutic value to people and there are many animals that are involved in helping people that have disablitities or need a little company.

I know that there is an organization out of Oregon that trains dogs to help people that are deaf. They are adopted by people that are hearing impaired and these dogs help their owners with day to day activities.

There are also dogs that are trained to work with elderly patients in the hospitals. They say that petting these animals even lowers a person’s blood pressure and makes them happier. I think that animals give unconditional love which is way most people love them so much.

Sometimes elderly people get depressed because of issues with lonliness as well as health and mobility problems. I think that having a pet like this around allows them to forget about their problems for a little while.

I would love to work in a field where I would be training these animals. In fact, I recently read that dogs were also trained to work with children that were learning to read.

This program was created by a teacher who wanted to encourage her students to read, but realized that some were embarrassed to read aloud. She found that the children were not so self conscious when they read to the dog. I really love these ideas of training dogs to help people. Working with animal careers like this really have to make you feel good because you are helping so many people.

By sunshine31 — On Jul 23, 2011

@Crispety - Wow that is nice that she was able to care for so many animals. I wanted to add that I would love working with marine animals. I think that dolphins are so intelligent and really gentle animals.

One of these days I am going to do the swimming with the dolphin event with my kids. It is just amazing the things that these animals can do. I think that they are really hard working animals that like pleasing people.

The only marine animal that I would not want to work with are the killer whales. They are beautiful animals, but these animals also can be temperamental and harm their trainer. I remember years ago there was a marine trainer that was killed because the killer whale got aggressive with her all of a sudden.

I think that people have to realize that some animals are meant to be animals and should not be part of a circus act because it is dangerous. They say that this killer whale also attacked other trainers, so this was not the first time that the animal attacked. I felt so bad for the lady and her family. I know that the people watching the show were also shocked.

By Crispety — On Jul 23, 2011

@BrickBack - I agree that jobs that work with animals would be fun. I really love animals and I also do volunteer work for animals once in a while.

I usually go to my local no kill shelter and offer to bathe and walk the dogs. I also bring bags of food for the dogs and cats. It is really sad to see so many animals in need of homes.

I think that my mother in law really should have had a career with animals because she has about eight dogs and two parrots. At one time she had about twenty dogs, but she lived in a rural area on home that sat on several acres of land.

She also had a few horses and a couple of pigs. She says that she always wanted to be a vet but was unable to get into vet school. She says that it is probably better that she didn’t because she would probably pick up every stray out there and that would not be good for her or the animals.

By BrickBack — On Jul 22, 2011

I think that careers working with animals must be really gratifying. My kids love animals and have talked about becoming veterinarians. I was really surprised to find that becoming a veterinarian is often harder than becoming a doctor because there are a lot less medical schools available for those seeking veterinary medicine training.

My son really wants to specialize in working with marine animals. Lately he seems to be obsessed with turtles and fish in general. I recently got him a pet turtle, so that might be the reason.

By lonelygod — On Jul 21, 2011

My friend got to have an amazing experience while in high school. Her dream was to become a veternarian because she always wanted a job that involved working with animals so when it came time to choose her co-op program she opted for a spot at the local animal preserve.

Apparently doing your co-op at an animal preserve is pretty amazing, and a lot of people try to get in. While you are working there you can feed things like lions, work with bear cubs and even have the chance to help with some animal births.

My friend's fondest memory was getting to pet a leopard that had come in for treatment. It was of course sedated, but it still made for a pretty amazing photo. Especially considering most people did their high school co-op at something like a store.

By wander — On Jul 21, 2011

Working with animals can be an amazing experience if you are willing to give it your all and don't mind getting a bit dirty. A good place to start if you want to work with animals is to volunteer at your local animal shelter as soon as you are able.

At your local animal shelter you will usually learn to help groom animals, prepare a proper diet for them, and of course take care of things like general cleaning of cages and whatnot. Often you will also get to play with the animals that need socialization.

I think one of the most rewarding things about volunteering at an animal shelter is seeing how animals improve from when they are first brought in.

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari, a talented writer, editor, and project manager, crafts high-quality, engaging, and informative content for various outlets and brands. With a degree in English and certifications in project management, he brings his passion for storytelling and project management expertise to his work, launching and growing successful media projects. His ability to understand and communicate complex topics effectively makes him a valuable asset to any content creation team.
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.