Explore Exciting Animal-Related Careers Beyond Veterinary Medicine

While becoming a veterinarian is an obvious choice, it’s not the only option for working with animals. If you’re an animal lover but don’t want to become a veterinarian, you may consider “jobs working with animals that aren’t vets.”

Many jobs allow you to work with animals without the extensive education and training required to become a vet. If you don’t want to go through further college, you may want to look at this article: “jobs that work with animals without a degree.”

Animal Care and Training Jobs – (Jobs Working with Animals that Aren’t Vets)

jobs working with animals that aren't vets

If you’re an animal lover seeking more unique career paths beyond veterinary practice, there are plenty of animal-related jobs to consider. Here are a few animal care and training jobs that might interest you:

Dog Trainer

Becoming a dog trainer might be perfect if you love dogs and enjoy helping dog parents. As a canine instructor, you educate dogs on basic obedience skills and work collaboratively with their owners to make the training successful.

Most dog trainers help humans as much as dogs, so you’ll need excellent communication skills. You’ll work with dog owners to help them better understand their pets and how to train them.

Plus, if you are into the sporting side of things, you can even teach advanced skills such as agility training, dock diving, and barn hunting.

Animal Trainer

One option is to become an animal trainer. As an animal trainer, you’ll work with various animals, from birds, dogs, and cats to horses and exotic animals like tigers and elephants.

You’ll definitely want to check out our list of interesting animal behavior books. As an animal trainer, you’ll be responsible for teaching them new behaviors and helping them overcome behavioral issues.

Two people to look up are Steve Martin and Ken Ramirez. Steve has been training parrots for over 40 years.

Ken Ramirez, who works at the Karen Pryer Clicker Academy, works with a group of Llamas. He has trained them not to be fearful of him and to perform a wide range of behaviors.

Animal Shelter Worker

Working at an animal shelter might be a good fit if you have a heart for adoption. There are so many endless opportunities at an animal shelter, from office work, to caring for animals, to helping in the surgery center (if they have one).

Your duties might include the following:

  • Feeding and watering the animals.
  • Cleaning their cages.
  • Providing them with socialization and exercise.
  • Adoption counselor, helping match people with the right animal.
  • Trainer

Zoo Keeper

Becoming a zoo keeper might be an excellent option if you love exotic animals and want to work with them up close. There is fierce competition to become a zoo keeper however you can start by following The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

You can expect some tasks to include feeding them, cleaning their enclosures, filling out paperwork documenting everything, studying their behavior, and providing them with enrichment activities to keep them happy.

And if you are contemplating how to become a zoo vet as well, start here.

animal careers - not vet med

Wildlife Jobs

If you yearn to work with animals and love the great outdoors, a career in wildlife may be perfect for you. There are a variety of non-vet jobs that involve working with animals in their natural habitats. Here are a few examples:

Wildlife Biologist

As a wildlife biologist, you would study the behavior, genetics, and habitats of animals in the wild. You would collect and analyze data to understand how animals interact with their environment. Some of your duties may include:

  • Conducting field research to observe animals in their natural habitats
  • Collecting and analyzing data on animal behavior, population, and habitat
  • Developing plans to manage and protect animal populations

Wildlife Rehabilitator

If you have a passion for helping injured or orphaned animals, a career as a wildlife rehabilitator may be perfect for you. As a wildlife rehabilitator, you would provide care and treatment to injured or orphaned animals to release them back into the wild.

Most cities lack wildlife rehabilitators, so this may be a golden opportunity to start your non-profit and help the injured wildlife in your neighborhood. Keep in mind that many times this will start out as a volunteer position.

Some of your duties may include:

  • Providing medical care and treatment to injured or sick animals
  • Feeding and caring for orphaned animals until they are ready to be released
  • Working with veterinarians to develop treatment plans for injured animals
  • Keeping logs/records on everything you do

Park Ranger

As a park ranger, you would work to protect and manage national parks and other public lands. You would be responsible for enforcing park regulations, protecting wildlife, and educating visitors about the natural environment. Some of your duties may include:

  • Patrolling park grounds to enforce rules and protect wildlife
  • Assisting with search and rescue operations
  • Providing information and education to visitors about the natural environment

Veterinary Technician/Office Worker

As an animal lover, you may seek a career that allows you to work with animals without becoming a full veterinarian. A veterinary technician or office worker can be an excellent option for those who want to work with animals without needing the same training level as a vet.

Veterinary technicians and office workers support veterinarians, allowing them to focus on more specialized tasks. Veterinary technicians are responsible for various roles, including assisting in examinations and treatments; providing care for animals in veterinary hospitals or clinics; drawing blood samples; taking x-rays and performing laboratory tests; administering medications; and keeping accurate medical records.

On the other hand, office workers are responsible for various tasks such as answering phones and emails, scheduling appointments, and preparing paperwork.

To become a veterinary technician or office worker, you must be familiar with computers and have excellent communication skills. You may also need to possess knowledge of medical terminology, anatomy, and physiology.

Learn more about “how long it takes to become a vet tech.”

Animal-Assisted Therapy Jobs

If you love working with animals and are passionate about helping people, a career in animal-assisted therapy might be right for you. An animal-assisted therapist involves using animals to help people with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities.

Here are two popular animal-assisted therapy jobs:

Animal-Assisted Therapist

As an animal-assisted therapist, you would help patients achieve specific goals, such as improving their social skills or reducing anxiety. You would use animals as part of therapy, often bringing them into sessions or having patients interact with them.

To become an animal-assisted therapist, you typically need a master’s degree in therapy, counseling, or a related field and specialized training in animal-assisted therapy.

Hippotherapy Instructor

hippotherapy - animal career

Hippotherapy is a type of animal therapy that involves using horses to help patients with physical disabilities. As a hippotherapy instructor, you would work with patients to develop riding skills, improve balance and coordination, and build muscle strength.

To pursue this career, you must be a certified riding instructor with specialized hippotherapy training.

Animal-assisted therapy jobs can be enriching, allowing you to make a difference in the lives of both animals and people. If you’re interested in pursuing a non-vet animal career in this field, be sure to do your research and enroll in a program that fits your interests and career goals.

Marine Animal Jobs

If you love marine animals, you can pursue many jobs that don’t involve becoming a veterinarian. Here are some options:

Marine Biologist

Becoming a marine biologist might be your perfect career if you want to study marine animals and their behavior. As a marine biologist, you’ll learn the biology, behavior, and ecology of marine animals and their ecosystems.

You may work for government agencies, research institutions, or private companies.

Some of the tasks you might perform as a marine biologist include:

  • Conducting field research on marine animals and their habitats
  • Collecting and analyzing biological and environmental data
  • Developing conservation plans for marine species
  • Teaching and mentoring students and interns

Marine Biology Teacher

If you love marine animals and enjoy teaching, becoming a marine biology teacher might be the perfect job with animals that aren’t vets. Furthermore, as a marine biology teacher, you’ll teach students about marine animals’ biology, behavior, ecology, and conservation.

You can work in public or private schools, colleges, or universities.

Some of the tasks you might perform as a marine biology teacher include:

  • Developing lesson plans and teaching materials
  • Lecturing and leading classroom discussions
  • Field trips
  • Grading assignments and exams
  • Advising and mentoring students

Marine Animal Research

If you want to research marine animals but want to avoid becoming a marine biologist, consider a career in marine animal research. You’ll study marine animals and their habitats as a marine animal researcher.

Furthermore, you may develop new methods for studying and protecting them. As a marine animal researcher, you may work for government agencies, research institutions, or private companies.

Some of the tasks you might perform as a marine animal researcher include:

  • Designing and conducting experiments on marine animals
  • Collecting and analyzing biological and environmental data
  • Writing a book (Check out Soul of an Octopus)
  • Developing new research methods and technologies
  • Writing scientific reports and papers

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Detection Dog Handler

If you love working with dogs, there are many opportunities for K9 detection work. A great option for “jobs working with animals that aren’t vets”.

Detection dog handlers work with dogs to detect various substances, from bugs to drugs to explosives.

You’ll work closely with your canine partner daily. There’s no better way to spend your day than with a dog by your side!

Bed Bug Dog Handler

As a bed bug dog handler, you’ll work with specially trained dogs to detect bed bugs in homes, hotels, offices, and other buildings. You’ll be responsible for training and caring for your dog and working with clients to identify and eliminate bed bug infestations.

You can also develop this into a small business; research if people need this service in your area. Most cities across the world have bed bug dogs working around the clock!

Conservation Detection Dog Handler

If you’re passionate about conservation, dogs, and wildlife, a career as a conservation detection dog handler may be the right fit. You’ll work with dogs to detect various species, from invasive plants and mussels to endangered animals.

There are many opportunities in this growing field, from national parks to private conservation organizations to small businesses like the Mussel Detection Dogs.

Bomb Sniffing Dog Handler

As a bomb-sniffing dog handler, you’ll work with law enforcement or military teams to detect explosive devices. You’ll be responsible for training and caring for your dog and working with your team to identify and neutralize threats. This job requires excellent attention to detail and working well under pressure.

Animal Control Jobs

As you are beginning to see, many jobs are available that don’t involve becoming a veterinarian. Another option is to work in animal control, where you’ll be responsible for enforcing animal welfare and public safety laws.

Animal Control Officer – A Popular Option for Jobs Working with Animals that Aren’t Vets

As an animal control officer, you’ll be responsible for various animal control tasks, including responding to calls about stray or dangerous animals, investigating animal cruelty complaints, and enforcing local animal control ordinances.

You may be called into complex cases, so you must be emotionally strong, especially during animal abuse and hoarding cases.

You’ll need to be comfortable working with various animals, including dogs, cats, and wildlife, and you’ll need to handle potentially dangerous situations safely and effectively.

To become an animal control officer, you must examine your state’s requirements. Some employers/states may require additional degrees, training, or certification, such as completing an animal control training program or certification as a humane officer.

Animal control officers typically work for local government agencies, such as city or county animal control departments, and may work indoors and outdoors. The job can be physically demanding and may require extended or irregular hours, including nights, weekends, and holidays.

Many calls you’ll have to go out on, maybe last-minute emergencies. You may be on call quite a bit.

If you’re interested in working with animals but want to avoid becoming a veterinarian, a career in animal control may be a good option. With the proper training and experience, you can make a positive difference in the lives of animals and their communities.

Final Thoughts

Working with animals can be a rewarding career choice. Many jobs allow you to work with animals without being a veterinarian.

Whether you choose to work with domestic animals, exotic animals, or wildlife, there are many opportunities to make a difference in the lives of animals.

Some of the jobs discussed in this article include animal behaviorist, animal shelter worker, animal control officer, zookeeper, and wildlife biologist. These are just a few examples of the many jobs available in the animal industry.

If you have a passion for animals, there is likely a job out there that will allow you to work with them. Take some time to research different career options and find the one that is right for you. 

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