Careers with Domestic Animals

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue working with domestic animals. Read on to learn more about career options along with earnings and training information. Schools offering Animal Care degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Are Some Possible Careers with Domestic Animals?

There are many jobs that allow you to work with domestic animals, especially dogs and cats. You could become a pet groomer or a dog sitter. You could work as an animal caretaker in a shelter, pet store, veterinary clinic, or animal rescue group.

As a pet groomer, you'll be responsible for bathing and grooming animals, including trimming nails and cleaning ears. The job of a dog sitter means you'll be providing companionship, food, water, and exercise to pets when their owners are away.

Animal caretakers work with several types of animals but primarily with dogs and cats. As a caretaker, you'll be responsible for their general care and feeding. Caretakers with experience might also vaccinate animals under a veterinarian's supervision. You'll also perform administrative duties, such as answering telephones and assisting prospective owners with the pet adoption process.

The following chart provides an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Pet Groomer Dog Sitter Animal Caretaker
Training Required Pet grooming school and apprenticeship Dog training, obedience courses, and apprenticeship Humane Society training programs and apprenticeship; associate's degree available
Key Responsibilities Bathe and groom animals Care for other people's dogs while they're gone Care and feeding of animals under veterinary care; some vaccinations
Job Growth (2014-2024) 11%* (all animal care and service workers) 11%* (all animal care and service workers) 11%* (non-farm animal caretakers)
Median Salary $29,225** (2016) $32,500** (2016) $21,010 (non-farm animal caretakers)* (2015)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **

What Type of Education Do I Need?

Many individuals who work with domestic animals acquire their skills through on-the-job training. The type of education requirements you'll need will depend upon your specific job. For example, some animal training jobs require a bachelor's degree, while others only need a high school diploma.

Dog sitting doesn't require formal training; however, it's helpful for you to have prior experience working with animals. You can find dog training and obedience courses at community colleges and vocational schools, as well as through community workshops. These classes teach you basic commands, manners, and socialization of canines. There are apprenticeship programs available.

If you want to work as a pet groomer, there are apprenticeship programs where you can learn from an experienced groomer. Alternatively, you can attend a state-licensed pet grooming school to learn techniques such as brushing, bathing, and fluff drying, as well as advanced grooming skills such as clipping and trimming. You may also learn about skin conditions on dogs and cats. Some pet groomer training programs can last up to 18 weeks.

Animal caretakers aren't required to have specialized training, but some colleges offer associate degree programs in animal care. Courses include animal science and grooming, animal health, nutrition, biology, and dog obedience. You can also attend training workshops sponsored by national organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States and the American Humane Association. The Humane Society University offers certificates, online training programs, and academic courses, too.

Are There Opportunities For Advancement?

As you gain more experience, you can advance your career by taking additional courses and training. For example, you could become an animal control officer or a shelter manager. Another option would be to open your own kennel or grooming salon.

What Could I Expect to Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that non-farm animal care workers who were employed by social advocacy organizations earned a mean annual salary of $22,250 in 2015 ( According to PayScale, in October 2016 individuals who provided pet grooming services earned a median of $29,225 a year, while those who worked as dog sitters earned a median of $32,500 annually.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Farmers and ranchers, in addition to duties like tending crops, maintaining a ranch, and purchasing necessary supplies like seeds and tools, work with animals during their job. Many raise animals from the time they were born, taking care of them and seeing to their needs for their entire lives before they become food, or are used as work animals on the property. No specific education is needed for this work beyond a high school diploma. Agricultural workers assist farmers with manual labor, including the care of animals, and typically need only on-the-job training to be hired. Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers assist veterinarians in the diagnosis and treatment of animal injuries and diseases. Their main duties involve caring for the animals' needs, such as food and water, under supervision from their superiors. You will need a high school education in order to qualify for this career.

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