It’s around this time that we’re all looking towards a new year, and (potentially) a new career. If you feel overworked, under stimulated and under appreciated in your current job you’re most likely perusing the job sites with a view to choosing a new job or even a new career for 2018. This is a common and admirable goal, but it’s important that you go into a job search for the right reasons and with appropriate expectations. You may need to take time out to retrain or even pursue a new qualification, either through campus based learning or through a more flexible online qualification. You may have to start at an entry level position and work your way up to reach your dream job. Nonetheless, it’s better to be standing at the bottom of a ladder you actually want to climb than to be stuck half way up one that you don’t.
Though many move careers with a view to attaining a better salary, you should not go into a career change with only money in mind. After all, that’s likely how you would up dismal and disillusioned in your current position. Though a competitive salary is a noble goal, a sense of purpose and job satisfaction are actually far more conducive to quality of life. A generous salary is rarely adequate compensation for a job you find yourself hating. Of course the factors that comprise job satisfaction are very much at the discretion of the individual, but if you have always kept pets and have a love of animals, you may find that few careers are as rewarding or life affirming than working with them. Here we’ll look at some of the best and most rewarding jobs that involve working with animals. While I may include jobs that require some extensive training, I’ll try to keep it realistic. It’s unlikely that many readers will have the time or money spare to be able to train to be a veterinary surgeon.
Why work with animals?
Working with animals has, in any capacity, some inherent benefits for your mental and physical health. Jobs involving animal care, while they may have some administrative elements, are inherently kinaesthetic and require a good deal of activity. Jobs where you’re regularly moving and active (especially when this takes place outdoors) tend to keep a steady stream of endorphins coming into the brain, keeping you feeling energized and positive. Moreover, jobs where you’re regularly active and moving help you to avoid the intrinsic health hazards that come with sitting at a desk in front of a screen for 8-10 hours a day. Sitting for long periods on a daily basis can not only impede digestive function but increase your risk of serious diseases from heart disease to diabetes.
All that aside, working with animals has some proven therapeutic benefits that aid job satisfaction and general mental health. If your job involves routinely petting, grooming or stroking animals this act is proven to reduce stress, reduce cortisol levels and regulate blood pressure. Animals provide companionship and watching their behaviors as species and idiosyncrasies as individuals is an incredibly satisfying activity.
Having established the benefits, let’s look at some of the best jobs that involve working with animals…
If you’re looking for an entry level position that will give you real experience of working with animals before you dedicate yourself to a particular specialism, a job as a veterinary assistant could be an ideal starting point. You will fulfil a wide range of administrative duties as well as pitching in to assist veterinarians and veterinary nurses as the need arises. You’ll also deal with pet owners, making appointments and often being an initial point of contact so great interpersonal and organizational skills are a must.
If you’ve kept dogs all your life and have a great rapport with your canine compatriots, becoming a dog trainer may be a rewarding career for you. Dog training is a fairly broad church and once you have a grounding and a working knowledge of canine behavior you can go into a range of specialisms from police dog training to show dog training to canine rehabilitation. You could even run your own training school if you have entrepreneurial ambitions. If you find canine behavior fascinating, have creative problem solving skills and have a whole lot of patience this may well be the career for you.
Pet adoption counsellor
If you’re a double threat and have not only a rapport with animals but with people too, you may be tailor made for a career as a pet adoption counsellor. Here you will take specific case studies of animals who have been put up for adoption. You’ll familiarize yourself with their circumstances, their behaviors and their specific needs and use this information to help them to find the right owners. You’ll also have to vet prospective owners so you’ll need to have a shrewd and keen inquisitive mind as well as having excellent interpersonal instincts. If you have a perceptive and analytical mind this may be your dream career.
When you were a small kid, did you peer at insects in fascination while your friends shrank away? Have you always had a healthy respect for bugs and the many and varied roles they play in the greater ecology? Little bugs make a big difference to the environment and if you have the time to study a masters degree, the world of entomology is a broad discipline that can lead to a wide and varied range of careers. You’ll likely work with farmers, botanists and horticulturalists so an open minded approach to other disciplines is a must but your knowledge and expertise can be used to solve a range of environmental issues. You could even become a forensic entomologist and use insect behavior to help solve crimes. It doesn’t get much more rewarding than that!
If you can’t resist the allure of Hollywood but tend to get shy in front of a camera, there’s a way you can reconcile your love of animals with a fascination with the film and TV industry and that’s as an animal wrangler. Animal wranglers provide animals of all shapes and sizes for productions large and small. You’ll get to work with a wide range of animals and thus you’ll have to have instant rapport with them and understand their behaviors. Not only will you get to work with different animals every day, you may even find yourself working with some famous faces.
Many pet owners want to make sure that their furry friends look and smell nice and this sizeable market can be the place for you to build your new career. You’ll clip and style fur, trim claws, clean teeth and keep pets looking perfect. You’ll need a keen stylist’s eye as well as a great working relationship with animals (and a whole lot of patience since few critters actively enjoy being groomed). While you may start your career in a pet salon or a veterinary practice there’s a lot of space for eager entrepreneurs to set up their own grooming business either in their own salon or as a travelling pet groomer.
If you’ve always preferred scales to fur, perhaps you’re destined for a career as a reptile farmer. You’ll breed, capture, raise, keep and attend to a range of reptiles for sale to pet stores. If you’ve always wanted to try your hand as a ranch manager but haven’t the space, reptiles require less space although they do require specialist knowledge and expertise. However, you’ll be able to specialize in a particular kind of lizard… And that’s a very broad church! You could choose to specialize in snakes, cute reptiles like turtles tortoises and terrapins or even large reptiles like crocodiles and alligators. You’ll not only work with your preferred reptiles but be ideally placed to work with schools and universities to educate people about the realities of these wonderful creatures and help to shatter a lot of common misconceptions.
Animal cruelty investigator
If you love animals and have a burning passion for animal rights and justice, you’ll find no career more rewarding than as an animal cruelty investigator. You’ll essentially be an animal cop, so you’ll need to temper your love of animals with outstanding interpersonal skills, an extremely professional demeanor and superb investigative skills. You’ll need to be extremely perceptive and analytical as you’ll essentially be a detective. You’ll also need an extremely strong resolve as you may witness scenes of animal cruelty and mistreatment that may be extremely upsetting. If you’re a team player who can remain calm under pressure and demonstrate excellent people skills even in the face of cruelty and mistreatment of all kinds of animals this is the career for you.
These are just eight of the many examples of careers that provide great job satisfaction and a lot of face time with animals while playing to a wide range of transferable skills. If you thought that the only rewarding career with critters involved enrolling in veterinary school, think again!
This is a contributed post.