Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a dog groomer?

If you think making pets look their best is your idea of the perfect job, read on.

What, exactly, does a pet groomer do?

A typical day can include everything from bathing (de-skunking anyone?), drying, untangling matted hair, haircuts and trims and, in some cases, even coloring. A groomer will need to know how to work with long, short and curly fur, not to mention dogs with single and double coats.

And of course, an artistic flair doesn’t hurt: consider breed-specific styles such as the Continental cut for standard poodles, which includes shaved limbs highlighted with pompoms near the paws and at the tip of the tail.

Some groomers may offer additional services including nail trimming, ear cleaning and plucking, as well as anal gland expression. And being fluent in the body language of dogs and cats comes in handy, too, especially for clientele who are not inclined to sit still through the process.

Does it require special training?

Groomers don’t need special licenses or certifications. Some get their start at a grooming school, while others hone their skills on the job. Certification programs are offered through the International Professional Groomers and the National Dog Groomers Association of America, to name a couple. They’ll typically teach you how to wield the tools of the trade, from shears and clippers to stripping knives, carding blades and a wide range of brushes and combs.

Where do groomers work?

More and more Americans count pets as part of the family, so grooming services are popping up in locations such as veterinary clinics, boarding facilities, grooming salons, mobile grooming vans, pet supply stores and doggy day cares.

Compared to grooming salons, which can be busy and noisy, mobile vans offer a quieter and calmer environment. One drawback to mobile services though, is that you might not have a second pair of hands to help when you need it.

Other considerations

Pet grooming can be physically demanding, lifting large dogs up onto a table and spending hours at time on your feet. Pets aren’t always cooperative. And you still can’t escape working with people because the dogs come with an owner at the end of the leash (who may have set ideas about how the clip should look and how their pet should be handled).

On the other hand, your day as a dog groomer is sure to be filled with variety, considering that dogs come in all shapes, sizes and breeds. You’ll have the satisfaction of transforming an unkept pet into a work of art. And you can build a loyal following as your skills improve.

Best of all, did we mention that you get to work with dogs all day?

15 Great Jobs Working With Animals

Awesome Careers With Animals

1. Dog Walker

For people who are interested in jobs with dogs, becoming a dog walker could be a great choice. You don’t need any special training, and finding clients can be as simple as posting an online classified ad. You just need a love for dogs and the motivation to go out for walks every day (or multiple times a day).

The reality is that many pet owners have a limited amount of time to spend walking their dogs. Long working hours and other life and family commitments often result in not being able to get Fido out for a walk every day. But a lot of dogs need those daily excursions in order to burn off excessive amounts of energy. So their owners often hire dog walkers to help keep their dogs healthy and happy. You will need to decide how many dogs you will be able to handle at one time and how many walks you can go on each day. That will largely determine how much money you earn since most dog walkers charge per dog and per walk.

2. Pet Sitter

Pet sitting is a great option for jobs that involve animals because you can be paid to spend time with loveable pets without having to complete a lot of training. It can also be done on the side so that you can keep your current job. When pet owners go out of town, they don’t always like the idea of having to kennel their animals. Or they may have pets that don’t handle being kenneled well. So pet owners seek out the services of pet sitters instead.

There are websites that are dedicated to helping pet owners find pet sitters. So you could register with one of those sites, or you could advertise through local online and printed classifieds in order to connect with potential clients. Some owners may request that you stop in to their home for a certain number of times each day, whereas others may request that their pets stay with you or that you stay with them. Depending on the arrangements, you may choose to charge per visit, per hour, or per day.

3. Animal Caretaker

If you are interested in animal shelter jobs, then becoming an animal caretaker could be an ideal option. You may also find positions at places like kennels, pet stores, and veterinary clinics. Along with having some experience with caring for animals, you could also benefit from taking a short animal care program. Although a lot of organizations do not require post-secondary training, many do prefer it and are more likely to offer positions to those who have obtained some animal training.

Animal caretakers often have responsibilities like observing, examining, feeding, bathing, and training animals. You could also be responsible for cleaning and sterilizing kennels, living and care spaces, and tools and equipment. Animal caretaking is one of the truly hands-on jobs dealing with animals, and the field offers you the opportunity to provide compassionate and loving care to animals every day.

4. Animal Cruelty Investigator

Harming animals is an unthinkable act for most people. But, unfortunately, animal cruelty does happen. When it does, animal cruelty investigators are needed in order to respond to and investigate complaints, as well as to collect evidence for trials and convictions. It is certainly one of the more emotionally trying jobs that deal with animals, but it is also one of the most important and meaningful.

When animals are abandoned, abused, diseased, injured, neglected, or otherwise left in unhealthy or dangerous conditions, it is you who comes to their rescue. When you conduct an animal cruelty investigation, you may need to carry out actions like obtaining search and seizure warrants, catching and removing animals from homes and properties, transporting animals, and working with law enforcement officials.

You could find jobs at animal shelters, with government agencies, or with humane societies like the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). Most organizations prefer that job candidates have some knowledge of law enforcement or criminal justice processes, along with experience at working with animals. So, although it is not necessary, obtaining a post-secondary education can help you stand out from other job applicants and lead you to a fulfilling job that involves helping animals who need it the most.

5. Animal Groomer

When it comes to animal care jobs, grooming is an important one. Although some animals like cats and horses require grooming, the field is most commonly associated with dogs. Certain breeds of dogs require ongoing maintenance that pet owners are not able to do themselves, or don’t want to do. After all, it is a lot easier for people to take their dogs to professional groomers than to wrestle with their dogs in order to cut their nails or give them baths.

To become a professional groomer, it is ideal if you get some training related to animal care or grooming. You need to have a calm demeanor and be confident in your abilities to handle dogs and other animals of all sizes and temperaments. Not all animals like having their nails trimmed or hair washed and cut, and you need to be able to safely complete those tasks without hurting a pet. That is why most groomers will require you to work in an assisting capacity and gain experience prior to allowing you to groom on your own. But it likely won’t take long before you can take on pet jobs that involve helping to keep dogs and other animals clean and healthy.

6. Animal Photographer

When you think of careers that involve animals, photography probably doesn’t cross your mind. But there are actually two different kinds of animal photographers. The first are wildlife photographers who photograph wild animals in their natural habitats. Some photographers take pictures of whatever wildlife they happen to come across, while others focus on photographing only specific kinds of animals. Either way, you can expect to travel extensively and spend a lot of time outdoors—sometimes in extreme terrain or conditions—in order to get the best pictures of your subjects.

The other kinds of animal photographers are pet photographers. They usually work on a freelance basis and often take photos on the side (i.e., in addition to their regular jobs). Or they may be professional photographers who offer all types of services. Either way, they are providing a valued service since a growing number of pet owners want professional photos that capture their beloved pets.

Whether you want to work in wildlife or pet photography, it would be a good idea to obtain some professional photography training. By enhancing your skills, you can learn how to take better-quality pictures. And that could be beneficial since the best photographers are typically in the highest demand and earn the most money.

7. Pet Detective

This may bring you visions of a slapstick comedy from 1994, but pet detective work is actually one of the jobs with animals that pay well. That’s because losing a pet is a tragic and traumatic experience, and some pet owners are willing to pay large rewards to those who can safely find and return their lost pets. Although having private investigator training and experience can be quite helpful when getting started in the field, there are other important factors to consider.

You should have solid experience with tracking animals, not just humans. And the most successful pet detectives have well-trained tracking dogs that assist them with locating lost animals. Some people find that working in animal control prior to becoming pet detectives is really helpful. You may even consider gaining experience by working on a volunteer basis or assisting other pet detectives in your area. Before you set out on this rewarding career path, be sure to check your state’s licensing requirements because some states may mandate that you have a private investigator license.

8. K9 Police Officer

K9 police officers get to enjoy careers with dogs that are meaningful, fulfilling, and serve the greater good of society. K9 officers perform a lot of the same tasks as other police officers, but they have a trusted four-legged companion by their side. As a result, K9 officers are often assigned to cases that utilize the skills of their canine partners. Those could include searching for drugs, tracking suspects, or finding bombs.

Becoming a K9 police officer will require quite a bit of experience and education. You will need to become a police officer first and would likely need to spend one to two years on the force, at minimum, before being considered for a K9 position. Some departments may also require you to have an associate or bachelor’s degree in a criminal justice discipline. Once you have met the basic requirements, you will likely have to complete a number of dog handling courses and specialized training programs in order to be prepared to conduct K9 police work.

You will need to commit a lot of hard work and patience to becoming a K9 police officer because, even if you meet all of the requirements for the position, you may have to wait until a job actually becomes available within your department. But, once that happens, you will likely find it worth the wait and the work. K9 police officers often develop a special bond with their dogs, and they take a lot of pride in conducting important work that helps keep their communities safe.

9. Animal Trainer

Animal training is often considered one of the more important animal-related jobs because trainers can help owners feel more connected, and even protected, by their pets or animals. The most common types of trainers are dog trainers. They work with both owners and their dogs to help them develop positive behaviors, such as following commands and not pulling on leashes or chasing other dogs and animals. A short dog training program and some direct experience is all that you will likely need in order to get started.

Other types of animal trainers include guide dog trainers and horse trainers. Since guide dogs are service animals and play an important role in helping to keep their owners safe, extensive education and experience is typically required in order to become a guide dog trainer. Along with earning a bachelor’s degree, you may also need to complete an apprenticeship and obtain a license, depending on the state where you work.

If you are more interested in jobs with horses, then you might want to consider becoming a horse trainer. Doing so requires a lot of direct experience and on-the-job training. You need to be comfortable with horses of all different sizes and demeanors, and you need to develop a variety of training techniques. Every owner and horse will have different needs, and you have to be prepared to handle anything from working with a horse that has suffered trauma or abuse to helping a horse adapt to having a rider.

10. Wildlife Rehabilitator

Sometimes wild animals get sick, injured, orphaned, or illegally captured. It is the job of a wildlife rehabilitator to help those animals get back to their natural habitats. If you are interested in animal health careers, then wildlife rehabilitation could be what you are looking for. You could play an important role in preserving wildlife while helping to keep the public safe.

Wildlife rehabilitators typically work in unison with veterinarians and handle the daily care needs of the animals. You will need to have extensive knowledge of different species, nutrition requirements, and safe handling and restraint techniques. You could be responsible for feeding and cleaning the animals as well as providing medicinal and therapeutic treatments that help them recover.

In addition to wildlife rehabilitation centers, you may be able to find job opportunities with government agencies, humane societies, and other non-profit organizations. The education requirements can vary based on the position, but some organizations may require you to have a college degree in a field related to biology, ecology, or veterinary medicine. So if you want to pursue one of the wildlife rehabilitation jobs that help animals, then you may want to do some research in advance and make sure that you are taking the right educational path.

11. Conservation Officer

Conservation officers often enjoy satisfying careers with animals that pay well. They are law enforcement officers who help protect animals and their habitats. They spend a lot of their time patrolling wildlife areas—like parks, forests, and lakes—to ensure that the people who are accessing those areas are following regulations and laws. As a conservation officer, you could also be responsible for conducting wildlife research, relocating animals that have entered populated areas, and investigating criminal activity.

Unfortunately, some people engage in illegal hunting and fishing activities. It is a conservation officer’s responsibility to investigate those situations as well as any other illegal acts that are carried out in his or her jurisdiction. There may be times when you will have to work with other law enforcement professionals, and you can also expect to spend some time in an office setting in order to complete paperwork.

The requirements to become a conservation officer vary between states, so it is important to check your state’s specific regulations. You may need to have post-secondary training in areas like conservation, wildlife biology, or wildlife or resource management. Criminal justice training can also be beneficial. And experience in the outdoors is essential for this field. The most successful candidates usually have a solid combination of education and experience, which is often achieved through internships or volunteer opportunities.

12. Zoologist

If you are interested in engaging and interesting high-paying jobs with animals, then becoming a zoologist may be a good path for you. Zoology is a large field of study that includes many specialty areas. For people who are interested in jobs working with animals, marine biology and wildlife biology are some of the most common fields to enter.

Zoologist is a broad term that refers to people who study animals. (Despite what the name suggests, it doesn’t only refer to those scientists who take on zoo jobs.) And, because there are so many different species and habitats, zoologists usually pick a specific focus. For example, marine biologists study ocean and sea creatures. They may even specialize in a certain area of marine biology, such as studying a specific species or type of habitat. Like marine biologists, wildlife biologists study animals and habitats as well, but their focus is on the land rather than in the water.

Regardless of your area of expertise in zoology, you could expect to spend time researching issues like genetics, nutrition, and pollution. And you may even research concerns like how climate change and human development impact an animal population. The field certainly offers no shortage of options.

13. Veterinary Acupuncturist

Although veterinarians enjoy some of the best high-paying animal jobs, you can advance your career even further in the field by specializing in an area like acupuncture. Animal acupuncture is a newer field of study, but it is growing as more people are searching for ways to treat their pets and animals more naturally. Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese treatment, and it probably comes as no surprise that animal acupuncture has been practiced for just as long.

The process involves carefully inserting needles into specific points on the animal’s body in order to promote healing. Things that can be treated include gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, respiratory, and skin problems. In order to offer those treatments, you must be a licensed veterinarian and have completed a postdoctoral program in animal acupuncture. Since acupuncture is a relatively new development in the field of veterinary medicine, you will likely need to be prepared to travel and learn away from your home. But doing so can help you take your career in animal health to the next level.

14. Veterinary Pathologist

Once you have become a licensed veterinarian, you can elevate your career even further by specializing in the field of pathology. Although veterinary pathologists do not work directly with animals, they take on vital jobs helping animals by researching and diagnosing diseases. They work in lab settings where they analyze samples and inform veterinarians of their findings so that the animals that have been tested can be treated accordingly. Veterinary pathologists may also conduct important research related to preventing and treating animal diseases.

In order to work in the field of veterinary pathology, you will need to earn a related postdoctoral degree. Once you have successfully completed your program, you will also need to become certified with the American College of Veterinary Pathology. So it is certainly not the easiest path, but those who have the motivation to follow it often enjoy excellent pay, good job prospects, and strong feelings of personal fulfillment knowing that they are helping to detect, diagnose, and even prevent animal diseases.

15. Animal-Assisted Therapist

If you enjoy helping people as much as you love animals, then you may want to consider pursuing a career in animal-assisted therapy. Therapists who are treating patients for just about any kind of cognitive, emotional, or social condition can use animals as part of their patients’ treatment. Animals can help patients feel more inspired and motivated, and using them in therapy can help promote a stronger bond between patients and their therapists.

To become an animal-assisted therapist, you would typically start out by choosing a specific field of study like counseling, nursing, psychology, or social work. Once you have completed your training, you would then develop the additional skills that are needed for including animal therapy in your practice.

Your education and experience requirements—as well as your salary expectations—are largely dependent on the type of position that you hold. You will want to be sure to research your chosen career field in order to ensure that you are selecting the right training program.

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