Find a career working for and with animals
Special to the Tribune
Previously, most people fell into animal welfare and related careers. Today prospective professionals prepare with certifications, licenses, and special focus degrees. From administrator to zoologist, there’s a long list of career possibilities to consider.
Volunteering at an animal shelter opens the door to watching professionals in action while gaining experience. Virtually all positions require good people as well as good animal handling skills. Entry level positions require a high school diploma or a GED.
Career tracks mirror those for any business. Nonprofit organizations are run by chief executive officers and government agencies have directors. College degrees in animals and public policy as well as in animal sciences, business and marketing are preferred. Attorneys find positions with advocacy groups or with large organizations as lobbyists fighting for animal welfare legislation. Support staff includes accountants, technology people, security guards, event producers, fundraisers, writers, artists, facility architects and other positions.
Academic careers include teaching, research and public education. A master’s degree in humane education recently was developed. Humane educators work with youth and adults to promote humane treatment of animals and each other, and to encourage environmental stewardship.
Animal behaviorists hold advanced degrees in animal sciences and behavioral principles and are recognized by professional societies. They help remedy behavior problems in individual animals.
Animal handlers include mounted police and military officers, K-9 teams, search and rescue teams, and service dog trainers. Animal law enforcement careers include court appointed humane officers, cruelty investigators,and animal control officers. Training is formal. Psychological evaluations are required.
Entrepreneurs run urban doggie day care centers, grooming and boarding services. Pet dog training is not regulated but to raise standards of practice, voluntary certifications are offered by two national associations.
Veterinarians earn a doctorate of veterinary medicine after four years of university, four years of veterinary school, plus an additional one to three years internship or residency in specialties. Graduates who pass a national test can apply for a state license. Veterinary technicians complete an associates degree program and are state certified. Vet techs perform a variety of medical procedures under the supervision of a veterinarian.
Wildlife rehabilitators professionalized with national associations specifying training leading to certification. State and federal permits are required to keep or treat wildlife. Zoologists, wildlife and marine biologists work in research, education, management, legal and policy development for government, corporations, advocacy groups, and animal facilities.
Today, almost any talent can be applied to create a career making a difference for animals.
Provided by the Lake Tahoe Humane Society and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals to help “Keep Tahoe Kind.” Dawn Armstrong is the executive director of the Lake Tahoe Humane Society and SPCA.
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