Top 33 Careers in Animal Welfare

Some of us are born with a natural attraction toward animals and their well-being. They are the type to help little birds who have fallen out of their nest or an injured stray cat cause they can’t stand to see an animal suffer. People with this innate ability to care for and relate to animals should be seen as a gift. People can use this gift to help the world while also making a living. There are animal-related careers for people of all different skill levels. Here are 33 common careers in animal welfare.

1. Animal-Assisted Therapist

Animals have a tendency to make people feel better. There’s something about having a cute dog or cat cuddled up next to you that makes even the deepest wounds seem better. Many therapists have noticed this and introduced animals into their therapy sessions. The pets can help show a softer side to some of the more closed off patients and allow them to let down their guard and talk. The therapist must go the school for psychology or a similar field. The therapist will make money based on the position they hold and their level of education. It’s the perfect job for someone who wants to help people find comfort in animals and other natural approaches, eliminating prescription use.

2. Aquarium Maintenance Professional

Aquariums can get quite complicated. However, the aquarium needs the correct chemical components as well as the right items for fish and other creatures to live and feed on. An aquarium maintenance professional can take a course to teach them how to keep any fish tank the ideal environment for the fish inside of it. This can be especially valuable at zoos or other places with large fish tanks, such as a pet store. The pay varies greatly based on the job at hand. Larger, more complicated jobs will pay more.

3. Animal Control Officer

Animal control officers are officers dedicated to the task of enforcing animal laws and regulations in the specified jurisdiction. An animal control officer also must handle any animal-related incidents. For example, if someone comes home to find a large snake in their home, they would call animal control to come capture the animal and handle it in a safe way. The officer will also have to work with their office to get the animal back into the world or find it an appropriate home at a local zoo or wildlife organization. Animal control officers only require a high school diploma. They generally make about $36,600. The job offers the unique opportunity to work with animals in very unique situations. It also provides a sense of doing good when helping abused animals. Some situations may be difficult to handle, though.

4. Animal Cruelty Investigator

Animal cruelty investigators work closely with animal control officers. They are the ones who go out into the field and investigate claims of abuse against animals. Many times, the claims are brought into the office by people who witnessed the crimes themselves or even live with the abused animals. The investigator will interview the people involved and check on the welfare of the animals. If they have adequate reason to suspect abuse, they may take the animal away from the home. Investigators only require a high school diploma. They generally make $32,020. The feeling of saving animals from a bad home and possibly deadly environment is priceless.

5. Animal Nutritionist

Animals all require a specific diet to maintain peak health and performance. An animal nutritionist does research and gives information on what different animals should eat. This could be for cats and dogs, farm animals, or zoo animals. This can help people buy the best feed for the animals in their care and feed them the correct amounts. Animal nutritionist must go through formal training in the form of a four-year degree in animal nutrition or a related field. The salary depends on whether you get a job with a large zoo or a small farm.

6. Animal Lawyer

Everyone needs representation these days, including animals. An animal lawyer can take their love of animals and combine it with their love for arguing and the law. The cases can include everything from damages caused by animals to protecting animals. Most people who practice animal law make it a portion of their personal practice. An animal lawyer will have to go through law school and pass the bar exam in their state. Animal lawyers generally make $50,000. Being an animal lawyer gives you the chance to work for yourself while also helping animals.

7. Animal Photographer

Some animals are absolutely majestic and remind us of how beautiful the planet we live on really is. It’s virtually a crime not to capture those beautiful moments on film to share with the rest of the world. Some of those pictures can even end up in magazines or websites. Many people choose to get formal photography training at an art school. This training helps land jobs since it demonstrates experience and training. However, a photography degree is not necessary. Most jobs are given on a freelance basis, so an animal photographer makes as much as they can work.

8. Animal Rights Advocate

Animals don’t have a voice to stand up for themselves. Someone has to do it for them. That’s where an animal rights advocate comes in to play. They stay current on animal rights issues to help keep people informed and make change. Some of the organizations that need animal rights advocates include PETA and the WWF. Workers may hand out literature or call for donations.

9. Animal Shelter Manager

When animals are displaced, they are picked up and taken to an animal shelter. The animal shelter is a place where people can come and get unwanted animals and give them good homes. Like any other organization, someone needs to run the shelter’s day-to-day operations and employees. The animal shelter manager takes on those responsibilities, ensuring a safe home and efficient processes. Most managers will have a degree in business administration or an animal-related field. The manager generally makes $38,000 – $42,000 a year. This job gives someone the ability to practice management skills while working in an environment with plenty of animals.

10. Beekeepers

Anyone who has tuned into the news recently knows that the bee population is suffering, and we need to do something about it. For that reason, many people are starting to build homes for bees in their own backyard. The bee hives can be for personal honey use and to increase the bee population, or they can be to sell honey and bees. The amount of bees and honey being produced affects the amount of money that can be made. There are certifications that help teach people how to be a beekeeper properly.

11. Breeder

Somme breeds of cat and dog are more popular than others. When someone has a female and male of that breed, they may try to breed them to sell the babies to people who want that breed. There is no formal training required, but many buyers would like a breeder with some experience and a lot of knowledge about the breed. It can become quite the lucrative career. It depends on how many dogs the mom has as well as how often they breed the dogs. It also depends on the breed of dog and how well the dogs are cared for before being sold to another family.

12. Crafter

People who love pets love to share their love for pets with the world with accessories and little trinkets. Someone needs to make these crafts. This is a profession that just about anybody with a little bit of creativity can pick up. people make earrings, purses, sweaters, blankets, figurines, plates, and a number of other items. The items can be sold at craft shows or online. For popular items made by ambitious people, it can even turn into a career. It will teach a person about manufacturing, marketing, and sales. It can provide input for future positions in retail.

13. Dog Trainer

Some puppies and dogs are naughty. They may do things that we don’t like or have accidents. Luckily, there are trainers out there who you can hire to help your dog be a good boy. The trainer will work with your dog on potty training, simple commands, and correcting bad behavior. At the end of the classes, your dog will either graduate or not. You may even get a picture of them with a cute robe and hat. The dog will be much better behaved. Dog trainers must have extensive experience in the field or some formal training. A dog trainer will generally make $32,400. Any dog lover would absolutely love the ability to work with dogs all day and witness their progress.

14. Dog Walker

Many people don’t want to leave their dog at home for an extended period of time. This is especially true if the dog is still young or if it is a high-energy breed. Dogs can end up tearing up pillows or having accidents in the home if left alone all day. That’s why some people are hired to walk dogs for other people. They will go into the home during the day and take the dog for a walk. There are even some apps, such as Wag and Rover, that match dog owners with dog walkers. The average dog walker makes about $24,000 a year.

15. Dolphin Trainer

Dolphins are gorgeous creatures who also happen to be extraordinarily smart. That’s why they are so much fun for people to watch at zoos. They can learn to do fun flips and tricks. They also interact quite well humans. Humans have made a whole career out of caring for the dolphins and also teaching them how to do intricate routines for large crowds of people. Dolphin trainers must get a degree in biology as well as their SCUBA certification. Dolphin trainers generally work at SeaWorld or the zoo. Since the positions are spread out, dolphin trainers may be required to move for their work.

16. Farmer

Many farmers have animals on the farm. They have have chickens to produce eggs. They may also have pigs or cows for the production of meat. They must learn how to care for the animals to help them produce the most amount of meat or eggs while still remaining healthy. A farmer must also be sure to produce meat with ethics in mind. Farmers require formal education to make becoming a farmer easier. The amount made depends on what is being farmed, skill level, and how big the farm is.

17. Marine Biologist

Colorful, exotic fish and other animals fill the oceans and make them a unique ecosystem to explore. Marine biologists dive into the oceans (literally!) to study the things they find and use this information to help keep our waters clean and safe for the animals in it. A marine biologist should at least have a B.S. in Marine Biology, but many scientists choose to continue their education to get a Masters or a P.h.d. Pay varies based on education and experience. This job comes with some amazing perks, such as travel and the opportunity to swim with the fishes.

18. Pet Adoption Counselor

A lot of people choose to adopt a pet who needs a home instead of buying a brand new one. This is admirable, and people are required to help facilitate the process. A pet adoption counselor will help match a person or family with the perfect pet. They will also help research the family to ensure they can provide a suitable home for the new family member. The counselor will work at one of the shelters in the area adopting animals. A counselor will make about $24,000 in a year. However, they don’t require special training beforehand.

19. Pet Blogger

Pet owners require information to give their pets the best care possible. Pet bloggers research and provide their own personal insights to help people learn about pets and pet products. They do what they can to make the content as engaging and entertaining as possible while still giving the reader valuable information. They also know how to persuade the reader to buy a product or use a service. Most bloggers have a degree in English or a related field with a natural love for animals. A blogger will generally work on a freelance basis, paid by the article.

20. Pet Care Associate

Pet owners need to go to a place that supplies everything they need to keep their pet happy and safe. Luckily, there are a number of pet stores that allow this. PetCo and PetSmart are just some of the well-established brands out there. With no training necessary, people can work part-time or full-time as an associate at one of these or many other pet retailers. The work will mostly include stocking or ringing people up at the register. However, many stores have a number of pets in the store to interact with. Many shoppers bring in pets as well.

21. Pet Grief Counselor

When a pet goes onto the next world, it can be very difficult for an owner to cope with. The pet can fill a huge void in a person’s life, making the death especially challenging. A pet grief counselor can help a pet owner come to terms with the pet;s death as well as any deeper reasons that the pet played such a large part of their life. The counselor will have to go through regular grief counselor training and also have an understanding of how important this can be to a person’s emotions.

22. Pet Groomer

Everyone wants their pet to look its best. In order to keep it looking good, the owner will take the pet to the groomer. Groomers have the ability to cut pet hair and even style it. They may even do manicures as well. The groomer has experience working with a number of different animals and temperaments. A well groomed dog not only looks better, but he will feel better, too. People can take a certification class of roughly 150 hours to get their credentials. This is the perfect opportunity for someone who wants to use their style skills and mix it with their love for animals.

23. Pet Portrait Artist

Some people want to remember their pets in their most gorgeous form. To commemorate their beloved pet, they may hire a pet portrait artist to come and draw or paint a picture of the pet. The artist will have a better chance getting jobs if they have gone through art school. They should be able to capture more than just the looks of the pet but also its personality. Most pictures are done on a commission-basis. The cost of each portrait can vary based on the size and the materials required.

24. Pet Sitter

Pets can always come on vacation with their owners. While on vacation, the owner will need someone to come take care of the loved one they had to leave behind. Pet sitters are hired to feed and walk the pets if necessary. They will also spend time with the pets and play with them. There is generally an agreed upon amount of times that the pet sitter needs to come to the home. Many pet sitters are hired by knowing the family that is going away on vacation. The pay is sporadic, and this is best as an alternative option instead of a main career.

25. Stable Hands

Horses need special care. Many people who own horses don’t have the time required to care for their horse properly. They can hire a stable hand to ensure that the horse is properly fed and groomed. The horse will also get the exercise an animal of that size requires. Finally, the stable hand will keep the stable clean. The stable hand should be somebody who loves horses and appreciates the opportunity to care for them. If they love the horse as much as the owner, they will be a good caretaker. Pay varies on the amount of horses and the owner of the horse.

26. Veterinarian

Every pet requires a doctor to keep them feeling their best for as long as possible. The doctor will perform check-ups, vaccinations, and resolve any emergencies. There are veterinarians who work regular office hours and emergency vets for when something simply cannot wait until the next day. A vet must go to veterinarian school and obtain a doctorate.

27. Veterinary Acupuncturist

Acupuncture has been used in Eastern medicine for thousands of years to help people cure a variety of different ailments. Acupuncture places needles into specific pressure points, creating the desired effect. Veterinarians are using the same practices on pets now, too! They will insert needles into the perfect spot to cure their ailment. While not always a substitute for standard medicine, it has been shown to be effective. A veterinary acupuncturist must get their doctorate in veterinary sciences as well as a certification in acupuncture. They can make as much as $162,450.

28. Veterinary Assistant

A veterinary assistant helps the vet with daily tasks they might need to accomplish. This can include administrative duties as well as handling the various pets (and owners) who come into the office. They may do basic medical procedures. Assistants generally go through a four-year training program and make $30,783. People can work as an assistant as they continue their education to become a veterinarian. The job gives the person the opportunity to work with pets all day while also learning how to best take care of them.

29. Veterinary Radiologist

A radiologist is a person who helps perform x-rays on people. A veterinary radiologist is specially trained to perform and analyze x-rays, ultrasounds, and CT scans. This is especially useful when an animal has gone through some physical trauma to help assess the damage. It is also extremely useful when a pet or animal is battling cancer. The radiologist works very closely with the veterinarian they work for. It can show if the cancer is stable or growing, allowing the veterinarian to recommend the next course of action. A veterinary radiologist needs to receive formal training in animal radiology.

30. Wildlife Rehabilitator

Animals in the wild sometimes get hurt and need our help. We can take the animals in and nurse the back to health. When they are healthy again, it’s time to introduce them back into the wild. This is where the wildlife rehabilitator comes into play. They help the animal get strong enough to go back into the wild without being an easy target. Once it’s time, they release them and hope fr the best.

31. Zoologist

Someone needs to go out into the field and examine animals to gather information about them. The information could be related to the animal’s behavior, diet, or population. They create this data to help professionals determine how to best care for them and how to keep their numbers up. This data contributes to conservation efforts. A zoologist must have at least a Bachelor’s degree but may have a doctorate. The higher their education, the more they will generally make. A zoologist not only works with animals, but they work with data as well, making this job perfect for the science-orientated minds.

32. Zookeeper

A zookeeper feeds and tends to the animals at the zoo. They may work with a wide number of different animals or stick to one particular animal. They must be naturally good with animals and not afraid to interact with the creepy or dangerous ones. Zookeepers generally get a four-year degree in a biology or animal-related degree. Zookeepers generally start out making $38,246 a year based on education and experience. It can increase with time. The main advantage to this position is the sweet uniform, but playing with the animals is an advantage, too.

33. Zoo Veterinarian

Zoos come with a large amount of wild animals from all over the world. The zoo takes responsibility for the health and well being of all of these different animals. In order to keep the animals healthy, the zoo will have a zoo veterinarian for regular checkups and emergencies. The veterinarian must have extensive training to be able to work on any animal from an ostrich to an alligator to a bear. Most zoo veterinarians will have a P.h.d A zoo veterinarian will generally make about $94,773. It’s a great benefit to be able to work on all different types of animals, keeping every day exciting.

We need people in this world who care for animals and want to help keep them and their homes safe. People who love animals can take their passion and make it a profession. For people willing to work and study hard, you can find a lucrative career working with animals. You can also make it a source of additional income for you and your family. The above mentioned careers are a great place to start if you or someone you know should work toward a career with animals. It’s a job that can help you fall asleep every night knowing that you did well in the world.

Other Career paths working with Animals

Animal care workers

Animal care and service jobs are entry-level and usually only require a matric. These workers are employed in zoos, pet stores, training centres, NGOs, animal shelters etc.  Your main job would be to keep the pets clean, comfortable and well fed. You might also promote their personality, characteristics etc. to people wanting to adopt a pet, including on the organisation’s website. When they’ve chosen a pet to take home, you interview them to make sure they have the resources to care for the animal and you collect the adoption fees. You may be required to walk dogs. If an animal is sick or has to be put to death, you might have to call a vet.

Humane law enforcement officers

These people are responsible for enforcing animal rights laws. Main duties include responding to incidences of animal abuse, inspecting facilities where animals are kept, and rescuing trapped or injured animals. You must have a matric and college courses or degrees in animal sciences and criminology. You may have to complete an on-the-job training program. Some places also require specialized certifications. According to the National Animal Control Association, the field of animal control is one of the fastest growing occupations in America.

Animal rights activist

Animal rights activists bring awareness of the mistreatment of animals to the public. Activists can work on their own by contacting lawmakers and law enforcement officials to prioritise investing claims of animal abuse. Joining animal welfare groups such as the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) are other options. These groups often conduct demonstrations, host fundraising events and give educational materials to the public. Attorneys can also work as lobbyists by petitioning lawmakers to pass laws for the humane treatment of animals. Usually you do not need a qualification to be an animal rights activist.

Wildlife rehabilitator

Wildlife rehabilitators help by taking in animals that are injured, orphaned or sick. They look after these animals until they’re healthy again. The primary goal is to help the animal recuperate and then release it into its native habitat. However, in cases where the animal cannot survive on its own, the rehabilitator will help find it a permanent home where it will be cared for. You may be required to take courses or seminars in wildlife rehabilitation for this job. Some wildlife rehabilitation associations offer certifications for those who pass their courses. You might have to get a permit to handle wildlife. Wildlife rehabilitators have the option of working independently or through an organisation.

Humane educator

If you have good public speaking skills and a passion for helping animals, you might be a good humane educator. Humane educators come from a variety of backgrounds, which may or may not include teaching experience. Besides a qualification in teaching, some organizations require a university degree in biology or environmental education. Some humane educators volunteer their time, while others work for game reserves or animal rights organisations such as the SPCA. Primary duties include raising awareness of animals and their individual needs. These people often speak in front of schoolchildren to help develop a sense of respect for animals at a young age.

Legal advocate

A legal advocate works to change laws and regulations that affect animals. Attorneys work to prosecute animal cruelty cases and cases where toxic material spills endanger animals. In criminal cases, prosecuting attorneys work for the government. Attorneys may also work for private law firms or animal advocacy groups, such as the Humane Society, to pursue civil cases. Lobbyists work to change laws and put new laws in place by working with lawmakers. In most cases, lobbyists are also attorneys. They usually work for animal protection agencies, such as the Humane Society or the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), to make sure laws are in place to protect the welfare of animals. You will need a university degree in law if you want to go into this field.


Animal trainers work to socialize animals and prepare them to work with humans. For example, a trainer may rehabilitate a dog so that a new family can adopt it. She may train a dog so that it can work as a search-and-rescue dog or service animal. You may have to have a university degree in biology, animal science or a similar field for this job. You will need a patient, caring personality. As an animal trainer, you will have a variety of career options. If you love to travel, you could work for a traveling circus. If you dream of working with exotic animals, you could find employment at a zoo or animal park. If you wish to swim with dolphins, you could train them to perform at a marine animal organisation. You could instruct animals in scenes on movie sets. Dog trainers teach pets obedience. In this role, you work with household animals, training them to go to the toilet in the proper place, stay off the furniture, stop barking, collect the newspaper from the driveway, or alert their owners about an intruder. When training dogs for police work, you will train them to sniff out drugs, cell phones or bomb-making materials. You can teach dogs to assist the handicapped by opening doors or guiding the blind. A horse trainer teaches horses specific behaviors as requested by the owner.  Typically, you train them for shows, making sure they’re ready for presentation. For example, if a horse owner wants his horse to compete in reining, you teach the horse a variety of rein commands (left means left, up means stop, etc.). You will have to give advice about general care and feeding. You may have to work closely with veterinarians to monitor the horse’s health and make recommendations on health care. The job is rewarding at best when the horse wins a competition and frustrating when the horse won’t listen or respond. As your reputation grows, your income will too.

Pet adoption counsellor

A pet adoption counsellor’s main job is to increase the number of adoptions your organization facilitates. They make sure the adoptions are quality ones where both the owners and pets will be happy. They do this by getting to know each pet and its personality, so that when someone comes to adopt, they know just what animal to suggest. For example, for a family with kids, the counsellor would probably show them a young, energetic dog who loves people rather than an old cat who hates noise. During the adoption process, they conduct the interview, fill out the necessary forms, and then educate the adopter on how to care for their new pet. After the adoption, they stay in contact to make sure the pet is settling well into its new life, and the owner is happy with their choice. They also do marketing and outreach events to find future adopters and explain pet behavior to confused owners. They sometimes hold mini-counselling sessions to help pet owners who are thinking of getting rid of their pets to find different options. Additionally, they work with volunteers so they too can spread the word about pet adoption. You will only need a matric for this job.


Typical duties include feeding the animals, grooming them, cleaning their living spaces, training them, playing with them and supervising their activities, while watching them for abnormal behaviors indicating sickness, sadness or stress. Because nobody will know the animals as well as you will, you will advise veterinarians on the animals’ health, consult with animal curators on animals’ environments, and answer questions from the visitors on animals’ bodies, diets, habitats and behaviors. You will be employed by zoos, aquariums and wildlife refuges. The job can be dangerous since wild animals often kick, bite, sting and scratch. Because you love animals, however, you focus more on the rewards, like improvements in the animal, education and advocacy than on the risks. You will tame and tranquilize caged creatures, secure their survival and support their wellbeing.


Vets are doctors who provide medical care to animals. In addition to going through the same training as a doctor with human patients, veterinarians are trained to balance the needs of their animal patients with the wishes of human clients. When organisations like the SPCA need to put an animal to death, they call a vet. You will need a university degree to become a vet.