Pets, Places, & Things, Points on Pets

Making A Love for Animals Into A Career

Did you know that the first week of March is National Pet Sitters Week? A big thank-you to all of those animal-lovers who help us care for our pets when we aren’t able to. Because animals – especially pets – are a big deal to us in this country. In 2009, Americans spent $45.5 billion on their pets, and this figure is only expected to rise in the coming years, as more and more people come to see their pets as members of the family. Pet-care jobs will keep pace with this trend.

Pet-sitting is just one of the many careers you can choose if you’re an animal-lover. In addition to being able to spend time with cute pets, some other benefits of pet-related jobs include being able to create your own schedule and work your own hours; many don’t require formal training or licensing (though requires training of its animal-lovers and is licensed). Dog walking is another great career: you spend a lot of time outdoors getting exercise and fresh air, making a dog’s day, your clients are always happy to see you, and you get lots of affection for your efforts!

But there are other interesting and lucrative careers featuring animals, such as:

  1. Pet grooming: This is a huge industry, and for good reason: just as humans need grooming, dental care, and the like, so do pets. Even pets with short hair need baths, nail trims, teeth-cleaning, and the rest. Long-haired and special breeds need a bit more to make sure mats don’t build up in their fur and to make them look nice. You can either work in a grooming salon, or you can operate your own mobile grooming service; special vans are outfitted with power, running water, and all sorts of cool gadgets, and can go from home to home for maximum convenience for pet owners.
  2. Vet tech: If you love helping animals but don’t want to go the veterinarian route, consider becoming a vet tech. You’ll work in the same environment and be making a difference; you’ll basically be the nurse to a pet’s doctor.
  3. Pooper scooper: What? Many pet owners are happy to outsource this dirty job to someone else. If you don’t mind the work environment, you can make good money cleaning pets’ yards. On average, you can charge a homeowner $45 a month for a once-weekly cleanup. It’s a pretty easy job and it helps the environment!
  4. Pet masseuse: Just as humans benefit from massage to manage pain, aid relaxation, and help with chronic health conditions, so can pets. Pet massage can be a hugely rewarding career, as you will be bringing relief and relaxation to animals who need it. You’ll need formal training, but you can make as much money as a masseuse for humans. And many veterinarians will be happy to be able to send their pet clients to you for help.
  5. Wildlife rehabilitator: If your interests lean more toward wild animals, this is a wonderful career to pursue. You’ll need special schooling and training, but you’ll be able to know you’re making a difference and saving lives. If you’re interested in education, you can help teach the public about proper care and rehabilitation of wildlife.
  6. Trainer: If you’ve ever had a rambunctious puppy, you know how wonderful it is to be able to seek the wisdom and advice of a professional trainer. Animal trainers can help pet owners interact and “parent” their pets the best ways, so that both pet and human are happy, relaxed, and safe. Or you can train animals for service, such as seeing-eye dogs, or even for movies and the entertainment industry!
  7. Humane educator: Have a passion for teaching, for improving the world, for making a change? Consider becoming a Humane Educator and working for an organization like the ASPCA or the Humane Society, advocating for animal rights and educating people on the same. You can also go the legal or political route, and become a Lobbyist or Attorney working for animal rights.
  8. Animal Control Officer: If you’re interested in law enforcement and animal safety, you can become an Animal Care and Control Officer and help rescue animals in emergencies, ensure that pets are treated humanely, or inspect kennels and breeding facilities to make sure they’re following regulations.
  9. Therapist: With training, you can specialize in the emotional health of animals, and serve as the go-between for animals and their human caretakers. You’ll become an expert in animal behavior and, like a trainer, can help train humans and animals in the best ways to cohabit and interact. You can help pet owners solve behavioral issues in their pets, or you can help therapy animals help people.
  10. Pet Adoption Counselor: Got a heart for pet rescue? Consider working for a shelter or adoption center, helping match pets with ideal homes, giving them a second or third chance at a happy forever home. You’ll help ensure that people make wise decisions when adopting and that pets are sent to their ideal homes. How’s that for making a difference?

Even if you already have a day job, many of these organizations and industries can always use volunteers: you can help out at animal shelters, at animal-related events and fundraisers, and wildlife centers, the list goes on. So whether it’s a career or a hobby, make use of your love for animals, and follow your joy!

Written by: Ashley Denham Busse
Ashley Denham Busse has worked part-time for since 2006. is a professional pet-sitting company located in Old Town Alexandria, celebrating more than 14 years of providing daily walks and customized in-home pet care. Visit or email 

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