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What Are Popular Animal Care Careers?

There are many popular animal care careers that could help you transform your love of animals into a rewarding profession. Some careers need more qualifications than others. Read on to learn about working as a veterinary technician, animal groomer or animal trainer.

Overview

Besides a position as a veterinarian, these positions in the field of animal care may be more to your liking, commensurate with your abilities, or be a better fit with your life style. In addition, the training and preparation for each of these jobs costs much less and takes less time than that required to become a veterinarian.

Important Facts About These Occupations

On-the-Job Training Common in the filed of animal grooming. Trainer positions often require prior experience.
Key Skills Compassion, communication, manual dexterity, patience, stamina, trustworthiness
Work Environment Clinics, animal hospitals, zoos, stables, shelters, pet stores, veterinarians' offices
Similar Occupations Agricultural worker, MRI or radiologic technician, Veterinarian

Veterinary Technician

If you have a knack for math and science, then veterinary technician may be the animal care job for you. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), these professionals typically work in an animal hospital or a private clinic under the supervision of a qualified veterinarian. Typical job duties include:

  • Analyzing blood tests
  • Keeping patient records
  • Developing x-rays
  • Giving instructions to pet owners
  • Doing surgery preparations
  • Administering anesthesia
  • Caring for sick or injured animals

Animal Groomer

Animal lovers with a flair for style may want to consider a career in grooming. Animal groomers are in charge of maintaining an animal's hygiene and appearance. They may work at a grooming salon, or they may work for a kennel, shelter or pet shop. Daily tasks may include:

  • Bathing animals
  • Brushing, trimming, blow-drying and styling an animal's coat
  • Trimming nails and claws
  • Cleaning ears and teeth
  • Scheduling client appointments
  • Selling pet care products

Animal Trainer

Animal trainers help keep animals (and the people who work with them) safe by teaching animals to respond to commands. The BLS says that these professionals most often work with horses, marine mammals and dogs. They may train animals to compete in competitions, perform in shows or work with a disabled population. Trainers usually find employment with obedience schools, kennels, horse farms, aquariums, shelters and circuses. Individuals may also hire these professionals to get basic obedience training for a pet or to prepare an animal for a pet show. These professionals often use the following techniques:

  • Giving positive rewards (like treats) for obeying commands
  • Repeating the same command over a long period of time
  • Designing a diet and exercise program for optimal animal health

Education

For this career, you need a high school diploma and a 2-year Associate of Science in Veterinary Technology from an American Veterinary Association-accredited school. In addition, you will need to pass your state's exam, such as the Veterinary Technician National Examination. There are also optional certifications for veterinary technicians.

To become an animal groomer, you can take a course at a state-licensed grooming school. You can also learn on the job by completing an apprenticeship.

To become an animal trainer, either a high school diploma or bachelor's degree is typically required, depending on the type of animals being trained. For example, dog trainers may just need community college training, while a bachelor's degree is common for marine animal training jobs.

Job Outlook and Salary

The BLS reports that veterinary technologists and technicians can expect to experience a job growth rate of 20% over the decade spanning 2016-2026. This increase will be much faster than average. In May 2018, these professionals made a median wage of $34,420 a year, which equates to $16.55 an hour.

From 2016-2026, there is expected to be much-faster-than-average job growth of 22% for animal care and service workers, according to the BLS. In May 2018, these workers made a median annual wage of $23,950 and a median hourly wage of $11.51.

The BLS expects animal trainers to have faster-than-average job growth of 11% over the 2016-2026 decade. Dog trainers will have better job prospects than horse and marine animal trainers, since competition is stronger for these latter positions. The median wage of an animal trainer in May 2018 was $29,290, with the hourly median wage being $14.08.