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Close encounters of the furred kind: careers with animals

Close encounters of the furred kind: careers with animals

Working with animals. What images do those words conjure up? Veterinary nurse or surgeon? Animal shelter worker? Professional dog walker?

Those are undeniably jobs that involve animals, but the picture is so much bigger than that. How about Police Dog Handler? Animal Welfare Charity Inspector? Zoologist? Wildlife Documentary Maker? Forestry Worker? Beekeeper?

Penguinologist? A viable career option according to

There are lots of different animals, and therefore there is a wide variety of careers that go along with them. So really you can pick and choose according to your preference, skills, and career aspirations.

But each career path has its pros and cons, and requires some thorough research. When picking a career with animals, it is necessary to cast aside all romantic notions of frolicking in the forest with gorillas or galloping on sunlit beaches with horses. Most of the work isn’t quite so picturesque, and real passion and drive are necessary to sustain an animal-based career over many years.

It’s also worthwhile exploring a good number of avenues so that you know for sure that the path you eventually choose is definitely the right one. Embarking on one career and then switching later on can be a big time waste and can set you back years in terms of specialist training and experience. Just as in any career, a great deal of clear thinking needs to be done before taking the plunge.

So how can you explore all the options in a balanced way that avoids getting roped into one particular avenue too early? Google will tell you a lot, but much of its info will be from organisations promoting careers in their own subject areas – so you’ll be hearing it straight from the horse’s mouth (heh heh) rather than from a disinterested party with your best interests in mind.

A good option would be to take a short course that gives you enough time to delve into and reflect upon the various opportunities in working with animals, and offers concrete advice on careers. A reasonably-priced one is IOA’s ICOES-accredited course Careers With Animals, right here on It offers a broad overview of the various career options, while equipping students with the career research skills to push their dream forwards when they have decided which way they want to go.

It also covers ways to make a business stand out from the crowd and get a head start, for those seeking to start or run their own animal-based business.

From working on your strengths and weaknesses through how to gain experience to broadening your education, it lays the groundwork for a career with animals before exploring a wide variety of options in detail. Examples include Animal Behaviourist, Animal Chiropractor, Veterinary Technician, Dog Breeder, Animal Photographer, Kennel Manager, Animal Cruelty Officer, Equine Dentist, Mounted Police Officer, Primatologist, Racing Steward and Reptile Breeder.