Where to Start?

Jump In

It's in your heart to work with animals, but you may not know how to get there. Or, you want to be sure you are doing it right.


You can do this. Just start! You are on a wonderful journey.

The Steps

  • Learn about yourself, what you offer and what you might want.

  • Learn about careers.

  • Network and gain experience.

  • Feel supported.

Things to Think About

Jobs have many parts. For example, veterinarians also have paperwork and most will say that dealing with owners can be harder than helping their animal patients. You'll need extra schooling for some jobs and for others you won't.

This list may help give you career ideas. It's OK if you still aren't sure after reading this or if everything sounds like a possibility. If that is the case, read more about different positions. If still not sure, think about what you don't want to do--that's almost always easier. In time, you will be able to figure it out. And, we will help.

Start Here

I want to work directly with animals most of the time?

I want to help animals but do not want to work directly with or touch them?

I want a a mix of the two?

I want to do the same type of work I am doing now, only with animals?

I have no idea. (And, that is OK.)

Whether you seek a paid job, internship or volunteer position, you have many opportunities and may want to explore what is out there. At the same time, think about what you are really good at--or at least really like. If you are a student, don't just think in terms of classes. Also, think about the other things you do--maybe you are a leader, a good organizer, a great athlete or an excellent listener. Those are as important.

It's fine if you change your mind later. That's expected.


I don't want any more classroom training but will if I need to.

I want more training.

The highest level of specialized training I want:

  • High school

  • Post-high school certificate

  • 2-year college

  • 4-year college

  • Post-college certificate (2- or 4-year)

  • Post-graduate master's degree

  • PhD (science or non-science) or DVM/VMD (both are veterinarians)

I don't know.  It depends (for example on the cost).


I Like (rank the Top 4)


Writing/Marketing/Public Relations


Health care

Selling things

To have my own business




To raise money for animal causes


Other (list)

I have no idea! (That is still OK.)

I Don't Like (check all that apply):



Writing/Marketing/Public Relations


Health care

Selling things

To have my own business




To raise money for animal causes



I have no idea! (But you probably picked at least one.)

I Want To Be a Veterinarian (only if applies)

I really want to be a vet and love and excel in science.

I want to be a vet but am not good at and don’t like science very much.

I want to be a vet and while I didn't do well in science before, I'm doing better now and ready to give it a shot.

I plan to be a vet, but I want a fallback—a transitional step just in case.

Skills: What I Do Well (if this is hard to answer, ask your family and friends for their opinions.)

Customer service (tact, empathy, patience)

Attention to detail

Working with animals

Computer skills (non-programming)

Computer skills (programming)


Creativity and imagination


Social media, publicity

Analysis (science, math)

Finance, Business


Problem solving

Persuasive, "an influencer"--sales, fundraising

Giving presentations








I have no idea.

Setting: Where Do You Want To Be?

Inside (sedentary)

Inside but where I walk around a lot

Outside (going to different businesses or homes)

Outside (outdoors)



Close supervision

Team environment

Informal--not a lot of hierarchy

I don't know.

What Do You Want To Wear?


Suits/business attire


Business casual


Whatever I feel like


I don't care

Hours, etc.




Doesn't matter

I want to be able to determine my own hours.

Let me know if you have items we should add.

A Word About Money (table it for now)

Unless you are volunteering or interning, you probably need to make money. Don't let the salary information dissuade you from your dream. Money is important, but for now, first figure out your direction and put money to the side.

Put Your Answers Together: Skills, setting, hours, likes, hates, degrees, etc. Look for patterns. If what you want to do involves a lot of science and you don't like science, you should at least explore other ideas (while not giving up on your own dreams). More? The careers listed on the other pages will give you ideas. As you read about the careers, compare the information to your list of preferences. You may be able to jump into a new career or you may need a transitional step--a job between your dream and where you are now.


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©2019 Phyllis Brust. Original content not to be used without attribution--tell people about us.