Veterinarian may be the first thing that comes to mind, but all kinds of opportunities exist for furry-friend lovers looking for interesting jobs.
Loving animals is an obvious requisite. Wanting to make a difference is another motivation cited by people looking for jobs working with animals. “I became a dog walker for flexibility. It allows me time to pursue my art career,” says Josephine Bentivegna, who created a client overflow in just three years. Ian Burgess, a professional dog walker in Brooklyn, New York, can relate. “I spent 17 years on Wall Street. Now, I’m my own boss, getting fresh air instead of sitting behind a desk,” he says.
Looking into jobs working with animals? Check out these options:
If you agree with Simon and Garfunkel’s “At the Zoo,” you’ll love this highly specialized career. Zoo vets spend their time tending to animals at — you guessed it — the zoo. The national median salary is $94,733.
Vet techs are trained to do lab and clinical procedures and work hand-in-hand with veterinarians. Technologists acquire four years of training and technician jobs require two. Both are credentialed and nab a median salary of $30,783.
They assist veterinarians with kennel work, exercising the animals and clinical duties. A big plus is hands-on connection with creatures, great and small. Median salary is $30,783.
Zoologists work with animals in the wild and controlled environments such as zoos. They provide data that shapes wildlife conservation and preservation policy, work with animals extensively and spend time crunching numbers. Starting salaries depend on schooling. Those with bachelor’s degrees earn around $45,460. Those with doctoral degrees start out in the $57,000 to $74,000 range, according to Chron.
Obedience trainers work with dogs, horses and other animals on behavioral issues and competition preparedness. Salaried positions at kennels, stables, animal shelters and veterinary clinics start at around $32,400, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Professionals usually begin as apprentices at guide-dog schools and are paid $15 an hour, according to U.S. Department of Labor. Guide Dogs of America lists trainer’s starting salaries, post-apprenticeship, as comparable to those of teachers. Trainers spend significant one-to-one time with dogs.
These detail-oriented, empathetic professionals facilitate pet adoptions and spend as much time on office work as they do with animals. The median salary is $21,310.
These local saviors of animal parents are usually self-employed “visiting pals” to fur babies. Median salary hovers around $24,000.
Animal acupuncturists are veterinarians who incorporate acupuncture into their practice. Average median salary is $48,400.
Animal nutritionists spend their time determining the dietary needs of animals in captivity, studying animal behavior and economics to make recommendations to corporations or governmental agencies about diet. They spend more time in the lab than the barn. The BLS lists the median pay of animal scientists, which include animal nutritionists, at $62,920.
When animals in the wild are hurt, they may be sent to licensed wildlife rehabilitators for assessment. Wound care, cleaning and record keeping are required. Emergency response to oil spills, hurricanes and other disasters is common. Median salary, according to the BLS, is $24,420.
12. Wolf Biologist
Wolf biologists immerse themselves in all things lupine. Physical interaction with pack members and excellent writing and research skills are required. Biologists spend as much time educating others and raising funds as they do interacting with wolves. The BLS lists $60,520 as the median salary for wildlife biologists, which include wolf biologists.
These highly trained professionals investigate animal abuse, protect and save animals and procure justice. O*NET OnLine lists $32,020 as a starting salary.
Love a particular breed? Being a breeder lets you hang with puppies or kittens all day long while managing a business and maintaining high genetic standards. The BLS lists $42,340 as the median salary.
This job pays as much in love as money. Shelter managers work with animals and raise funds, earning between $39,000 and $43,000 according to one Glassdoor review, often after spending much time as an unpaid volunteer.
Help enforce animal welfare laws in your town or city, and patrol public areas to make sure animals (both wild and domesticated) are doing OK. Median salary is $36,600, according to the BLS.
17. Marine Biologist
Sure, you won’t necessarily work with cuddly animals, but this job can involve travel and scuba diving! Plus, you might study plants as well as animals. Median pay is $48,915, but it could be much higher depending on your education and training.
Corey Kagan is a freelance writer living in New York. Her daughter is a wolf enthusiast who is considering a career as a wolf biologist. A version of this article was originally published on Care.com.