How to Find a Career Helping Animals

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Turn your passion for animals into a rewarding career by seeking out a job that allows you to help animals in need. It's never too early or too late to get started in a career helping animals; depending on your age and how much educational experience you've had, you may be able to jump right into your career search. Otherwise, find out what educational requirements you need to meet in order to get started on the right path towards your desired career. Consider volunteering for a local animal welfare organization to gain valuable hands-on experience; this can help you determine your strengths, weaknesses and specific interests.

Things You'll Need

  • Pen and paper
  • Computer
  • Using a pen and paper, begin making a list of the things you hope to gain from a career helping animals. Ask yourself what kind of career path you want to take, whether it's working with rescued animals in a shelter, providing medical attention in a veterinary office, or looking after animals in the zoo. Identify your strengths and weaknesses to help narrow down realistic career options.

  • Conduct some Internet-based research on the various kinds of jobs you could do to help animals, or head to your local library to consult occupationally-focused books; websites to consider include the Animal Career Guide (animalcareerguide.com) or the ASPCA (aspca.org), both of which offer career advice and a suggested reading list. Choose two or three job options that seem like they would be a good fit for you with regard to your strengths and weaknesses and then examine the specific qualifications you'll need for each one.

  • Make a list of goals you'll need to accomplish before applying for one of your desired career paths. Highlight specific training and courses you'll need to complete to be considered for each position, as well as any volunteer experience you feel would be useful to explore your chosen field. Veterinary careers, for instance, usually require four years of veterinary school on top of a degree from a four-year undergraduate program, plus a one-year internship, and sometimes a two- to three-year residency. Meanwhile, an animal trainer doesn't technically require any formal education. Weigh your lists against one another, and select the career that looks like it will be most realistically attainable.

  • Consult colleges and universities, local or not, that you'd consider attending. Find out if they are offering the specific courses you need to take in order to qualify for your selected career path, and then enroll in any and all courses that are available to help you meet your goals. Typical areas of study you'll need to pursue a career in animal care include pre-med courses like physics and chemistry plus animal-related courses like animal nutrition and zoology.

  • Phone local animal-focused organizations to find out about volunteer opportunities; depending on what's available, plan to devote a few hours a week to help out. Places to look include local farms or stables, veterinary offices or animal shelters.

  • Conduct a career search to find out about job listings in your immediate area, or anywhere else you could see yourself living and working, upon completion of your educational requirements. Begin tailoring your resume to appeal to the specific jobs you find in your search, and send a copy to each organization. Your college placement office makes an excellent starting point.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you consult with someone else in the profession it would be best to seek out one who is unbiased (i.e. someone who doesn't perceive you as competition or a threat)
  • In just about any animal-related profession, the ones you ultimately have to answer to -- are the two-legged. If you love animals and hate people -- that may not cut it.

References

  • Photo Credit Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images
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