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Professional Opportunities Working with Pets. Love pets? Love your job!

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This article explores a broad sampling of professional opportunities working with animals, from the veterinary and scientific fields through to the technical pursuits, not to mention important support and service roles. We briefly look at job requirements, employers and responsibilities. Some are obvious, some less so. We aim to help you set your sights on a full-time career, a part-time job or even an entrepreneurial adventure that combines challenge and income with fun and heart-warming moments with pets.

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Things We Do For Pets

Love Pets? Love your job!

It is often said, “Follow your passion into a career, and you will never work a day in your life!”

I have always admired people who figure this out. Whether it’s kids who decide early on in life what they want to be when they grow up. Or high school seniors mapping out their post-secondary plans with purpose. Or adults who make a joy-fuelled switch mid-career. Or early retirees determined to fulfill a bucket-list goal.

My point: it’s never too late to follow your dream. And if you have a real passion for animals, there are all kinds of options to consider. Today I’m going to explore some of these options in a few categories: Veterinary, Scientific, Technical, and Support and Service.

It’s never too late to follow your dreams and turn your passion for animals into a fulfilling career

Many careers require years of schooling and post-graduate credentials. Such is the case of the first category: Veterinarians, the doctors of the animal kingdom. If your calling is to become a veterinarian, an early start with a science-based education is a must. It takes about 6 years of full-time study, including pre-vet and practical experience, and certification from the regulatory association, to earn a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine in Canada.

We usually think of a Vet in the context of a private animal hospital tending to preventative and emergency care for our pets. That’s because around 80% of them choose to focus on a consumer client base with domestic cats and dogs. But there are other places that need and hire DVMs.

Being a Zoo Veterinarian would be a fantastic, variety-packed job for someone who loves all domestic, wild and exotic creatures! Vets are also sought after by research institutions, pharmaceutical companies, the farming industry, and the government. Canada has about 60,000 vets and that number is expected to grow by 20% over the next 5 years.

It takes similar academics to work in the Scientific category. These professionals typically work for research organizations and government bodies. A Wildlife Biologist, for example, is an expert in wildlife and their habitats. They help to preserve wild animal populations by conducting research and finding ways to protect endangered species. This is an ideal field for someone who is passionate about the future of our ecosystems!

A Zoologist (note to reader: this word is pronounced “zo-ology”, not “zoo-ology”) needs a similar background but applies it to one species. An Ornithologist, for example, studies birds. A Wolf Biologist interacts physically with pack members to conduct their research. A Marine Biologist… yup, imagine scuba diving and travel as part of your job description!

If you are also passionate about the legal system, you might find your calling as a Conservation Officer. Sometimes called fish and game wardens, these officers patrol areas like lakes, forests and deserts to deter and investigate wildlife crimes – that’s crimes by people, not by animals – enforce the law and assist with prosecution. CSI: Moose Jaw.

Another category that will pique the interest of analytical animal lovers is Technical, those who work in clinical, scientific, agricultural or business settings for the benefit and long-term care of animals. They can be hired by animal hospitals, for sure, but can just as commonly be found working for government bodies, animal shelters, pet food manufacturers, and controlled environments like farm or a zoo.

Some examples? Well, Veterinary Technologists and Technicians are trained to support vets by taking medical histories, collecting and analyzing samples, preparing animals for surgery and assisting with diagnostic procedures. They require 2 – 4 years of study, technical certification and, like vets, must keep up with continuing education.

Being a Zookeeper is one of the few careers that provide a substantial amount of interaction with exotic creatures. They provide everyday care for the animals they oversee by feeding, observing behaviours and administering medication when necessary. Many zookeepers are also involved in education programs geared toward visitors.

The affection of a girl assisted by a therapy animal is evident in the hug she gives to the trained dog. Love pet!
Animal assisted therapy (Photo by Konevaelvira |

A field that is growing in popularity is Animal-Assisted Therapists who incorporate animals into medical treatment plans. They might work with hospitalized children to ease anxiety; with elderly individuals to provide companionship; and with clients who require support due to certain medical conditions.

Working with pets. Obedience training is helpful for most puppies – and their owners!

While these therapists work with human beings, the support animals require Professional Trainers to teach obedience, security and how to respond to voice and visual commands. On the consumer side, obedience training is helpful for most puppies – and their owners! On the Show Circuits, high-end trainers resolve behavioural issues and help with competition preparedness. Canine units within police services receive intensive training for search-and-rescue missions, drug enforcement and border patrol, to name but a few of their service areas.

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A great example of this field is the Seeing-Eye Dog Trainer. Diploma and certificate-level education is required, followed by an apprenticeship. There is a great need for guide-dogs and the certifying bodies cannot seem to turn them out quickly enough to meet the demand.

An Animal Nutritionist’s day-to-day work draws on their expertise in animal nutrition and genetics to help achieve a safe and stable food supply. In academic settings, research facilities, regulatory agencies, and private corporations, whatever their specific role, these folks tend to spend more time in a lab than with a lab.

If you studied business, there are ample ways to apply your education within the pet world. Animal hospitals and clinics, zoos, farms and ranches alike all require strong Managers to make sure the facility they oversee runs smoothly and safely. Administration, finance, government reporting, human resources… general management is both a skill and a talent. I’m sure that working as an Animal Shelter Manager pays as much in love as in money.

We’ve all seen that adorable TV commercial where Wildlife Rehabilitators use Dawn suds to clean an oil-covered duck. When animals in the wild are hurt, or endangered by natural or industrial disasters, it’s a licensed rehabilitator that comes to the rescue. They assess, provide first aid, clean and protect the animals until the emergency has been resolved.

Another highly trained professional who works with animals in dangerous situations is an Animal Control Worker. Whether responding to 911 calls, picking up strays, investigating abuse, or seeking justice for abused or neglected pets, their mission is to rescue and protect domestic pets.

The next category of jobs is Support and Service roles suitable for recent high school grads or those looking to get good experience working with animals and their owners.

A great example is a Veterinary Assistant, an integral part of every clinic’s team. Feeding, cleaning and exercising the patients is part of the job, as is offering an extra pair of hands during an examination or offering an ear to a concerned pet parent.

And when those pet parents turn to a boarding kennel, yours can be the smiling face that greets them as a Kennel Attendant, assuring them that their pet will get the same TLC while in your capable hands.

If your dream is to work with horses, there’s no better place to start than on a farm. Mucking and feeding are part of the routine, for sure, but you will love riding the horses for exercise. And the real-life training of assisting with a birth or witnessing a colt’s first steps is priceless.

A beautiful and well-groomed pet dog shows the importance of professionals who can deal with the dog's needs and also with the level of affection of its owner: love pet! Love your job!
Cute wet dog in the bath (Photo by Volha Bilevich |

If you “have a way” with pets, you might want to consider working for a kennel or pet store as a Pet Groomer. Baths, hair cuts, ear cleaning and nail clipping are all in a day’s work, and if you can become an expert in tying a bow to a swishy updo, you can work your way to the big times with celebrity pets!

And what job could be sweeter or more heart-warming than helping pets find forever homes as a Pet Adoption Counsellor? Close your eyes and just imagine the hugs and face-licks, and the joy on a child’s face embracing their new BFF.

Most of the jobs I’ve touched on today are full time and long term. They allow you to grow and gain experience as you build a career. There are many, though, that you can do on a temporary or part-time basis. What they have in common is that organizations hire you.

I close with the final category of entrepreneurship. Owning a clinic or a pet store franchise can be rewarding. But know that it is a lot of work. The more responsibility you take on for administration, the less time you will spend with pets.

A small step into self-employment that might be right for you is becoming a Dog Walker or Pet Sitter. Add nail-clipping or litter-box cleaning services to up your value. This is more pleasant in the summer, but more lucrative in the winter! There is a site,, that matches pet parents around the world seeking a pet sitter with pet-loving travellers looking for a place to stay.

Pet ownership is big business in Canada and the online market is wide open for anyone who can offer a unique service, product or talent. Consider the whole arena of you-tubers, vloggers, podcasters and other influencers who are amassing fortunes from advertisers. There’s no job title for monetizing your cate’s cuteness, but it’s a thing and it’s fun.

So that’s it for today. Gotta go walk the dog.

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Things we do for Pets

Podcast: Things We Do For Pets
Made possible with the support of Ontario Creates

Directed by: Teresa Botelho
Content writing: Lauri Richardson
Pre-production & research: Ana Carolina Botelho
Recording / Editing / Social Media: Christian Pedersen
Host: Eric Major
Vignettes & special effects: Robson DJ Estudio 
Website & Digital Marketing: Creative Team Canada

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