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Working Directly with Animals


Get career ideas from the list below. You will find links to more information for some careers; for others, a Google search can yield great information.

​The O*Net OnLine Interest Profiler is a free site sponsored by the US government (the Department of Labor) that can help you learn more about your interests and careers that are compatible. It is based on the work of John Holland.


The Profiler defines careers according to these parameters: (with explanations from the online inventory):

Realistic — "Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others."

Investigative — "Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally."

Artistic — "Artistic occupations frequently involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules."

Social — "Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others."

Enterprising — "Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business."

Conventional — "Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow."

After taking the inventory, you will receive a code. Careers that share that code might be of particular interest. Examples of the Holland code:

RIS includes veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers.

IAR includes geneticists.

RIE includes range managers.

IR includes veterinarians (specialties may vary) and agriculture teachers. Breeders are RI.


A word of caution: Never let test results dissuade you from a career and never let anyone discourage you based on your results. Use the findings to learn more about yourself and career possibilities--don't let them dictate what you should do.

More About Career Inventories

They can be helpful, but don't feel that you have to take one. There are  other ways to learn more about yourself.

If you want to learn more, two of the most popular are the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and StrentghsQuest. College students and graduates can check whether your schools offer the tests free of charge.

Occupations/Jobs Working with Animals

I included several that aren't companion animal-related but use many of the skills.

Adoption assistant/Counselor
Animal behavior therapist

Animal control worker

Animal adoption coordinator



Cage handler

Compliance officer

Customer service/Receptionist at vet office

Disaster Response Team Member (helps animals during natural disasters and other emergencies); the University of Florida Veterinary School has such a team.

Dog daycare assistant

Dog walker (your own copy or working for someone else)

Doula for animals; compassionately providing end-of-life care for pets and helping their families during this horrible time. (Here's a link to the University of Vermont's certificate program).

Environmental activist


Fear Free Certified Care Worker (decrease the stress of animals in shelters and veterinary offices

Feral cat nonprofit helper/assistant

Forensic professional for animals

Forester/Park ranger


Grant writer


Handler, dog show

Jockey/Professional rider

Judge (dog shows)

Manage a doggy daycare

Nosework (scent) trainer or handler


Pet psychic (not advocating this; a friend mentioned her niece is one)

Pet psychologist


Physical therapist for animals

Police canine officer

Policy analyst

Practice manager

Public education

Raiser of less common animals (eg, goats)

Racetrack careers

Rehabilitation (physical therapy and other integrative therapies)


Retail, including store owner

Rider, teach riding

Teach therapeutic riding

Sales, in a store, business-to-business or internet

Shelter manager

Shows animals (see also Handler)

Social Media/advertising/newsletter writing

Social worker veterinary school (work on bereavement issues)

Store owner


Trainer, Seeing Eye and other service animals

Trainer, agility, behavior

Trainer, Fear Free (decrease anxiety of animals in veterinary offices and shelters)

Transportation of animals (all forms of transit including accompanying pets on airplanes)

Veterinarian (including all specialties)

Veterinarian assistant

Veterinary behaviorist

Veterinary receptionist

Veterinary technician

Veterinary technologist

Veterinary nurse (also listed as Nurse)


Volunteer coordinator

Volunteer manager

Warden, fish and game

Wildlife rehabber

Zoo curator

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