Growing up, many children dream of becoming a fireman, ballerina or president of the United States. Other children know they want to dedicate their life to animals.
While a veterinarian is the first animal-related career that comes to mind, there are plenty of other options available, according to Michele C. Hollow, a well-known animal lover and author of the book The Everything Guide to Working With Animals.
Guide Dog Trainer
Guide dogs help the visually impaired avoid obstacles to lead a safe, active life. A guide dog must be well behaved and stable. If it becomes distracted by another animal or wants to chase a car, it puts its owner in jeopardy.
Becoming a guide dog trainer is also about educating the owner, Hollow says. “Yes, they train the dog, but they are really teaching the people how to handle the dog.”
Volunteering at a vet’s office or pet store can give you basic dog handling experience. Guide dog organizations may also have volunteering opportunities that could turn into a full-time job.
One of the most overlooked careers is entomology. Working with insects may seem less glamorous than other careers, but Hollow stresses that it is equally important.
“There are way more insects in the world than people, and they are supposedly going to be here long after humans are gone,” she says.
Studying creepy crawlers requires a background in science, biology or entomology.
The beautiful habitats zoo animals call home are carefully crafted to mimic their natural habitat and create a pleasing experience for the visitor.
An education in landscape design, zoology, animal behavior or ecology, and a flair for the creative are ideal for this particular career path.
Contacting your local zoo and asking to volunteer or intern is a great way to find out if working at a zoo is something you would like to do.
Animal Relocation Specialist
Animal relocation companies offer their services to pet owners, shelters or labs that need animals transported from location to location.
“Let’s say you got a job overseas and you want to take your pet with you, they can cut through the red tape,” Hollow says.
Their job is to ensure a smooth transition. From handling papers and quarantine, to knowing which shots are necessary.
But it doesn’t stop at reuniting pets and their owners. Reuniting animals or insects for research purposes is also common.
“A science lab might need 1,000 mosquitoes to do tests on,” Hollow says. “I wonder what is it like driving in a car with boxes of mosquitoes!”
Animal Makeup Artist
One of the most unique careers Hollow encountered was an animal makeup artist. You may be picturing a pug with lipstick and green eyeshadow, but a makeup artist does more than that. Animal actors starring in a movie cannot be on set for hours on end, which requires stunt doubles and backups.
“In the film 101 Dalmatians, there were three dogs who played each lead,” Hollow says. “She had to apply makeup to the dogs to make them look identical.”
To become an animal makeup artist, you have to work your way up. Starting out as a groomer and cleaning cages can give you a foot in the door for this exciting career.
Each animal career comes with its own exciting rewards. Holloway emphasizes that to get started on any career path, it is important to get firsthand experience. Explore volunteer and internship options available near you, and begin your journey to a memorable career.
– Hannah Patterson