Jobs with Animal Rescue Organizations: Requirements & Opportunities

If you have a passion for animals and want a career where you can work with them, keep reading to learn more about some of the jobs you can pursue, along with their requirements and job outlooks. Schools offering Animal Care degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Info at a Glance

Careers with animal rescue organizations involve caring for animals and their well-being and ensuring that they can live a healthy life. Several jobs you could pursue if you want to work with animal rescue organizations are animal control worker, veterinarian, and animal care and service worker. Each job offers hands-on work with animals, but has different duties and educational requirements. The table below includes more basic information about each career.

Animal Control WorkersVeterinariansAnimal Care and Service Workers
Degree Required High school diploma; bachelor's degree preferred Doctoral or professional degree High school diploma or equivalent; some fields need bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Animal Science, Veterinary Science Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Animal Science, Biology
Key Responsibilities Remove animals from abusive situations, guarantee public safety from potentially dangerous animals, monitor animal shelter conditions Diagnose medical problems in animals, perform surgery, prescribe medications Monitor animals and their conditions, provide animals with basic needs, examine and exercise animals
Licensure/Certification Certification varies based on state Must pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination and follow additional state licensing requirements Optional vocational school certifications for dog trainers
Job Growth (2016-2026) 22% (for all animal care and service workers)* 19%* 22%*
Median Salary (2018) $36,330* $93,830* $23,760 (nonfarm animal caretakers)*

Source: *U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Jobs Can I Get With Animal Rescue Organizations?

If you're interested in working with animal rescue organizations, one career you can choose to pursue is animal control work. With this job, you would investigate animal mistreatment reports, rescue abused or neglected animals, and work to maintain the safety of communities. Alternately you could work as a veterinarian which would involve working with pet owners to maintain the health of their pets, as well as attending to the needs of stray or abused animals so they can thrive and be put up for adoption. A final career path you could choose would be that of an animal care and service provider. This job would include attending to an animal's basic needs and could include the position of trainer, nonfarm animal caretaker, kennel worker, and more.

What Duties Might I Have?

While each job would involve hands-on work with animals, your duties for each would be different. Animal control workers are tasked with helping get stray animals and lost pets to shelters, monitoring potentially dangerous animals in residential areas, as well as ensuring safety standards are met in shelters. Veterinarians examine and treat animals based on health diagnoses, sometimes perform surgeries, and advise pet owners on how to best care for their animals. An animal care and service worker takes care of the animal's basic needs like feeding, exercising, cleaning cages, and sometimes providing more specialized care like training or grooming.

What Are the Educational Requirements?

If you choose to work as an animal control worker, you will need to have at least your high school diploma, but a bachelor's degree in animal science or another applicable field is preferred. For this career path, you'll want to make sure you have an extensive knowledge of a range of animals, and in some states you may need a certification. A veterinarian needs a doctoral degree and must acquire a license by passing the North American Veterinary Licensing exam, along with following any other licensing requirements her state requires. An animal care and service worker needs a high school diploma, though some may benefit from a bachelor's degree, depending on their specialty. For example, a zookeeper or marine mammal trainer is more likely to need a bachelor's degree, though pet sitters and kennel workers may only need a high school diploma and some experience working with animals.

What Is the Salary?

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for an animal control worker was $36,330 in 2018. That year, the BLS also reported the median salary of $93,830 for veterinarians. The median salary for animal care and service workers who work as nonfarm animal caretakers was $23,760. However, within the animal care and service worker position, animal trainers are reported as earning a median of $29,290 in May 2018.

What Is the Job Outlook for These Careers?

The job outlook for those working in and with animal rescue organizations trends upward for the 2016-2026 period. Veterinarian jobs are expected to see 19% growth, with more opportunities opening as older veterinarians retire and as pet-owners continue to spend more on pet-related services, treatment, and technology, according to the BLS. While the data on the animal control workers available on the BLS does not specify the percentage of growth or decline, jobs for those working in animal care and service positions are expected to see a growth of 22%. In general, as people invest in more care for their pets, more opportunities are expected to open these fields.

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