If you love dogs, you might want to choose a career that involves working with man’s best friend. Making the right choice of career is vital if you’re going to be happy in life. After all, just think how many hours each day you’ll need to spend at work, so your occupation needs to be something you love and leaves you feeling fulfilled.
In this article, we take a look at some of the most popular occupations that dog lovers might want to consider. Also, we look at how you can get into those careers and what you can expect from the role.
The career you choose will depend on several important factors, including:
- Your academic qualifications
- Your salary requirements
- The hours you want to work
- Your skills and aptitudes
- Your age
- Your home situation
For example, if you’re still at school, you may want to consider entering the veterinary profession if your grades are good enough. However, if you’re not particularly academic and would prefer hands-on work, perhaps working as a dog groomer or a kennel worker might be more up your alley.
So, here’s a list of some of the most popular dog-related jobs that you might want to consider:
- Dog groomer
- Dog obedience trainer/behaviorist
- Dog charity worker
- Veterinary technician
- Dog walker
- Dog breeder
- Pet sitter
- Kennel worker
- Animal welfare inspector
- Canine hydrotherapist
- Assistance dog trainer
- Police dog handler
Other more unusual occupations include:
- Shepherd, working with border collies
- Dog photographer
- Dog show handler
- Search-and-rescue dog handler
So, now let’s look more closely at how you can get into ten of the most popular dog-oriented careers.
As a dog groomer, you’ll be working with all breeds of dogs. You’ll carry out a comprehensive range of grooming duties to improve the dog’s appearance and hygiene. Your daily work will include:
- Interacting with dog owners to discuss their requirements
- Understanding the AKC grooming standards for every breed
- Giving your customers up-to-date advice on at-home grooming techniques
- Bathing, drying and trimming dogs’ coats
- Clipping nails
- Using electric clippers and stripping combs as required
- Detecting and highlighting abnormalities in the coat and skin, including sores, lumps, and parasites
- Cleaning work areas and sanitizing equipment
You don’t need any specific entry requirements to train as a dog groomer. If you begin working at an established grooming salon, you’ll receive on-the-job training. There are also dog grooming courses available, and your supervisor will recommend a suitable diploma for you to pursue.
Once qualified, an experienced professional dog groomer can expect to earn around $29,200 per year.
As a veterinarian, you’ll treat a wide range of animals from hamsters to horses. When you have enough experience, you can opt to specialize in small animal care, farm animals, or exotics. You might also branch out into caring for zoo animals, or you could work in a medical research facility.
Of course, in general practice, dogs will be one of your most frequently seen patients. As a vet, your duties and responsibilities will vary, depending on where you work. However, general veterinary duties include:
- The diagnosis and treatment of sick animals
- Advising pet owners on their pet’s nutrition, exercise, dental health, parasite control, and preventative vaccinations
- Prescribing and administering drugs
- Advising pet owners on correct animal care
- Carrying out routine surgical procedures such as de-sexing
- Putting pets to sleep (euthanasia)
- Post-mortem analysis
- Carrying out routine blood and urine tests
Being a vet is hard work! Sometimes, when you’re on-call, you will be expected to work unsocial hours, including weekends. You will also need to keep up to speed with the latest developments in the industry, and that could involve spending time away from home, attending training courses and seminars.
That said, a vet can expect to earn a median salary of around $90,420, depending on your experience and any specialty that you have.
Veterinary technicians fulfill a similar role to nurses in hospitals. As a vet tech, you’ll assist a veterinarian in many of the technical and administrative support tasks that are required daily, including:
- Carrying out initial testing and evaluation of patients
- Checking pets’ vital signs and collecting urine samples
- Administering first aid
- Administering drugs, vaccines, and medication under veterinary supervision
- Monitoring in-patients following surgery
- Updating patient records
- Sterilizing and preparing equipment for surgical procedures
- Assisting the vet during surgery
- Placing catheters
- Monitoring anesthesia
- Assisting in euthanasia procedures
Depending on the type of practice they work in, some vet techs are required to stay overnight to monitor and care for in-patients. Weekend work is also often required.
As a vet tech, you can expect to earn a median salary of around $33,400 per annum.
Dog walking is a relatively new job that’s emerged over the last 15 years or so. These days, many dog owners work during the daytime, meaning that Fido is left home alone. So, pet parents now pay professional dog walkers to take their furbabies for walkies during the day.
The great thing about dog walking is that you don’t need any formal qualifications or training to do this job. If you love dogs, enjoy exercise, don’t mind being outside in any weather, and have a flexible schedule, you could be a dog walker.
Your duties as a dog walker will include:
- Calling at dog owners’ houses to collect their pet
- Taking dogs to the dog park or for a stroll around the neighborhood
- Cleaning up after your charges
- Feeding and watering dogs on returning from a walk
Being a dog walker is a very responsible job. You’ll be trusted to enter someone’s home to collect their dog. You may need to walk several dogs safely together. You will be responsible for the wellbeing of all the dogs in your care, including when visiting dog parks.
Also, you must have a minimum of third party liability insurance, to cover you in case a dog in your care causes an accident or bites someone.
Dog walkers typically charge around $10 per walk, depending on the area in which you’re working.
Like professional dog walkers, you don’t need any formal qualifications to work as a pet sitter.
Pet sitting is a highly responsible job. You’ll be required to live in someone’s home to look after their pets while the homeowner is away on vacation or a business trip. You will also need to be able to recognize signs of ill health that may require veterinary attention.
If you work as a sole trader, you’ll need to sort out paying your taxes. You will also need insurance to cover you in case of accidents to the pet or the homeowner’s property. If you work for an agency, you won’t need to worry about insurance. Also, the pet’s owner will be required to pay for your food while you’re living in their home.
As a pet sitter, your responsibilities and duties could include:
- Feeding the dog and providing fresh water for him
- Grooming the dog
- Walking the dog in any weather
- Vacuuming up shed dog hair
- Giving the dog his medication
- Handling veterinary emergencies
- Providing owners with updates on their dog’s wellbeing
- Observing local laws regarding dog walking
Sometimes, you may be asked to carry out additional duties, especially if you’re living in the dog owner’s home while they are away. These duties can include:
- Cleaning the whole house
- Watering plants
- Cooking food for the dog
- Collecting the homeowner’s mail.
The typical rate for pet sitting is around $10 and $15 per hour, depending on where you’re working.
If you’re not afraid of hard manual work and you love dogs, you might like to work in boarding kennels.
You don’t need any official qualifications to work in kennels, although there are a few certificates you could take that will be beneficial to your career, including the Level 2 Caring for Animals in Kennels certificate. That’s an online qualification that’s offered by the Animal Care College.
Kennel workers perform the following duties:
- Feeding and watering the dogs
- Cleaning out the dog cages, kennels, runs, and exercise areas
- Observing the dogs to note any behavioral changes
- Exercising the dogs
You’ll wear protective clothing for work, including safety boots, gloves, and overalls. As much of your work will take place outdoors, you’ll need to be content to work in all weathers.
You will work around 40 hours per week, including some weekends and public holidays. Kennel workers can expect to earn between $14,000 and $18,000. If you make a promotion to kennel manager, your annual salary could be around $21,500.
Animal Welfare Inspector
If you want to help animals in distress, including dogs, you may want to consider becoming an animal welfare inspector.
As an animal welfare inspector, your duties will include:
- Responding to public call-outs regarding animals in distress
- Assisting stricken, helpless animals, carrying out a safe rescue, and returning the animal to its owner or releasing it back into the wild.
- Liaising with the police on cases of animal abuse and cruelty
- Preparing evidence for, and appearing in court cases where people are being prosecuted for animal cruelty
- Investigating reports of alleged animal neglect or cruelty
- Educating and advising owners in the correct care of their pets
- Working to promote the rescue organization and its mission
Some of the work carried out by animal welfare inspectors is distressing. You must be able to cope with stress and be prepared to deal with seeing animals that have been the victims of cruelty and abuse.
A welfare officer’s salary starts are around $23,500 per annum, plus benefits. If you progress to inspector level, you’ll be able to choose to specialize or move into a supervisory role, potentially earning from around $23,500 to $34,500, depending on experience.
Police Dog Handler
To become a police dog handler, you’ll first need to have served at least three years as a regular police officer. You could then apply for attachment to the dog section where you will receive full training as a police dog handler.
Several different types of police dogs perform different roles. Some dogs are used to pursue and restrain fleeing suspects, and others are scent dogs that are used to detect drugs, cash, firearms, explosives, etc. Some police dogs are specially trained to search for human remains or missing people in collapsed buildings or thick undergrowth.
Police dogs live with their handler. You will, therefore, need a home with enough inside and outside space to accommodate a dog. When the dog retires, usually at around nine years of age, they typically become household pets.
You’ll need to be physically fit so that you can keep up with your dog. You must also be able to handle the fact that your dog must be totally obedient to you and must be under strict control at all times.
Dog breeds that are commonly used by the police include:
- German shepherd
- Belgian shepherd
- Springer spaniel
- German short-haired pointer
A police dog handler typically earns between $32,000 and $37,500 per annum, depending on experience and rank.
As a canine hydrotherapist, you’ll work applying hydrotherapy treatments to help injured dogs to recover. Usually, your clients will be referred from their usual veterinary surgeon. However, some dogs thoroughly enjoy hydrotherapy as a form of exercise.
To become a canine hydrotherapist, you’ll need to attend training courses on the following subjects:
- Canine first aid
- Pool water management
- Canine anatomy and physiology
- Canine hydrotherapy
Many companies offer to pay for further training once you’ve secured a position with them. To get you started in this career, you’ll need to have an accredited certificate or diploma in hydrotherapy for small animals. Also, a certificate in animal first aid would be a beneficial qualification to have.
Your duties as a canine hydrotherapist would include:
- Assessing patients’ condition and working out a suitable therapy regimen to aid their swift recovery
- Using a hydrotherapy pool and water treadmill to aid dogs’ recovery from injury
- Carrying out administration tasks
You’ll often need to work antisocial hours that are convenient for your clients, including weekends and evenings. Hours are typically longer than the average, and you may be required to work shifts, depending for whom you work.
As a canine hydrotherapist, you can expect to earn around $18,000 to $23,000. During your career, you’ll need to attend training courses to keep yourself up-to-date with new industry developments and your professional body’s guidelines.
With experience, you could gain promotion to a more senior position in a management or training role within the industry. You could even decide to take the self-employment route and set up your own clinic.
Assistance Dog Trainer
Assistance dogs are specially trained to aid people with physical or mental impairments.
These invaluable canine carers are trained to guide visually impaired people inside and out of their homes. Also, assistance dogs provide help to deaf people, such as alerting their owner when someone comes to the door. Service dogs can also be trained to raise the alarm when their owner suffers a seizure or collapses.
Therapy dogs provide a crucial service to those who are affected by conditions such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In the U.S., therapy dogs are used to aid war veterans whose mental health has been affected by their experiences in the armed forces.
As an assistance dog trainer, your duties will include:
- Training dogs to help people who have physical disabilities, visual or hearing impairments, and serious medical conditions
- Giving presentations and demonstrations to promote the role of assistance dogs in the community
- Undertaking fundraising activities
- Training other trainers
To be an assistance dog trainer, you’ll need to be physically fit and enjoy outdoor activities in all weather conditions. You must have a flexible attitude to the job too, as you’ll be required to travel around the country to visit trainee assistant dogs and their owners. Most assistance dog trainers work full-time, and you may occasionally need to work at weekends and evenings too.
As regards training for this job, every organization sets its individual entry requirements. However, if you have experience of working with dogs at a kennels, rescue shelter, or animal welfare organization, you will have an advantage. Ideally, you’ll also have an understanding of the problems faced by people with disabilities.n
As an assistance dog trainer, you can expect to earn around $19,000 as a trainee, rising to $25,450 as an experienced, qualified trainer.
So, you want to work with dogs? Well, we hope our article has inspired you!
Armed with the helpful information in this guide, you’ll now have a good idea of what would be the ideal canine-related career for you. Whether you want a non-academic, hands-on role or you’re keen to enter a profession that demands a high level of study to qualify, we’re sure you’ll find what you’re looking for.
Adventures in Veterinary Medicine – Adventures in Veterinary Medicine (AVM)at Tufts University is the only program of its kind in the US. It’s an exciting one or two week program offered for middle school, high school, and college students, as well as adults, who are considering careers in veterinary medicine.
Long Beach Animal Hospital – You Make the Diagnosis – This animal hospital in California has a very interesting and fun section where you can practice diagnosing animals from x-rays. Take a look!
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