Wild career opportunities: 7 jobs for animal lovers

People generally classify themselves as either a dog person or a cat person, but you’d be hard pressed to find someone who claims disinterest in animals of all kinds. Sure, we all may have our own personal preferences, but there’s an animal out there for everyone. Some may prefer the company of a cuddly rabbit or two, while plenty of other people enjoy tending to their home aquarium or fish tank.

Spending time with a few furry (or scaly) compatriots is a great way to unwind and destress after a long day spent surrounded by concrete and pavement. One piece of research published in the scientific journal AERA Open even tells us just 10 minutes spent petting a dog or cat can tangibly lower physiological stress levels. In other words, that mental relief you feel when spending time with your favorite animals is likely more than just a placebo effect. Another recent study published in Anthrozoös found that having a pet to rely on during the COVID-19 pandemic helped less resilient people find the strength to cope with the extremely stressful, ongoing ordeal.

Of course, there’s no reason why you can’t reap the mental health benefits of wildlife and nature between the hours of 9 AM and 5 PM as well. Many may be surprised, but there are plenty of ways to spend all day surrounded by animals and get paid too. Here are 7 potential career paths every animal lover should consider.


Just like your GP looks after your own health needs, veterinarians function as the primary doctors for animals across clinical settings. If you’re passionate about caring for and helping animals in need, a career as a vet is a fantastic way to touch the lives of countless animals – and get paid a lucrative salary to boot. On average, veterinarians usually clear the 6 figure mark in terms of annual earnings. Of course, keep in mind to become a vet you’ll need to earn a doctorate in veterinary medicine and pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam.

Marine biologist 

Maybe you’ve always felt more comfortable out among the waves. If you’ve long been fascinated by the ocean and all of its colorful inhabitants, life as a marine biologist will likely suit you well. Specialized scientists focusing on saltwater environments, marine biologists observe, study, and analyze life underwater. Opportunities for marine biologists are as diverse as the ocean itself; one day may entail experiments in a lab setting while another could feature scuba diving to collect samples and live specimens for analysis.


For most people, the local zoo is a place reserved for special occasions, parties, and field trips, but working as a zookeeper means you’d get to spend all day everyday surrounded by an array of different animals from all over the world. This type of position also allows you to get up close and personal with various critters in a way that isn’t afforded to standard zoo guests. 

Zookeepers are responsible for ensuring the animals staying at a zoo have access to everything they need in order to feel comfortable and thrive within the facility’s walls. Usual responsibilities include feeding, grooming, and generally observing the animals, as well as immediately addressing any health concerns or injuries that may come up.

Animal control officer

Sometimes humans need a little bit of protection from certain animals. Alternatively, in many cases it’s the animals that need help escaping abuse at the hands of humans. Animal control officers work to ensure humans and animals live together harmoniously across communities. That means enforcing local and state laws regarding the proper treatment of animals, answering calls to contain wild or diseased animals that have wandered into highly populated areas, or simply educating members of the local community on how best to promote animal safety and responsible pet ownership.

Equestrian coach

The ideal gig for all horse lovers, equestrian coaches teach others how to ride a horse. While a background in horse riding is of course a prerequisite, this career path is a perfect example of aligning one’s personal passions with professional ambitions. Just like any other variety of teacher, equestrian coaches must put together their own lesson plans and develop a personal teaching style. In some cases, the position will also entail caring for and feeding the horses in your stable.

Pet groomer

Pets have bad hair days too. Pet groomers make sure their furry clients are clean, looking good, and well groomed. A day in the life of a pet groomer includes cutting pets’ hair, trimming their nails/claws, and cleaning their teeth. Many pets aren’t exactly thrilled by the idea of a bath or haircut, so this job path is best suited for people who love animals and don’t mind dealing with a few unruly clients here and there.

Dog walker

Getting paid to spend time with some cute pups already sounds like a sweet deal, but dog walkers enjoy the added benefits of exercise as well. As the name implies, dog walkers take their human clients’ dogs for daily or weekly walks around the local neighborhood. Depending on a dog walker’s number of clients, the gig can either be a part-time or full-time position. Many people in this line of work walk multiple dogs at once to save time and take on more four-legged customers.