Love Dogs? These Careers Might Be Perfect for You
Getting paid to spend your days working with dogs may sound like a dream come true, but it doesn’t have to be a fantasy. There are lots of jobs that let dog lovers spend their days hanging out with puppies and pooches… and get paid to do it!
If spending all day, every day surrounded by dogs sounds like heaven, these jobs might be perfect for you.
Not all dog owners have the time (or the inclination) to take care of their pooch’s grooming needs themselves. Enter the dog groomer who does all the bathing, trimming, combing, shaving, brushing and styling for them. Dog groomers also cut dogs’ nails and clean their ears. Some will even brush a dog’s teeth as part of their regular grooming routine.
What’s Required: Schooling and certification are not required. Yet many doggy salons and owners want to work with someone with training. There are plenty of dog grooming schools, such as Animal Behavior College, many of which will help you find a placement after completing the course.
Getting Started: Most dog groomers attend an in-person or online training program, or start as a groomer’s assistant and learn by watching.
Dog sitters take care of a dog while its owner is away. Besides giving the dog food and water, sitters will take the dogs in their care for walks and play with them. Sitters may also take care of things like bringing in the mail or watering plants.
Some dog sitters do all this on twice-a-day visits to the dog’s house. Others stay at the home while the owners are away.
What’s Required: No schooling is needed, but most dog owners want a sitter they know has lots of experience with dogs. A course in doggy first-aid is also helpful.
Getting Started: The easiest way to get started as a dog sitter is to work for a dog sitting company as an employee. Some sitters get started with their friends' dogs and let word of mouth build.
Dog handlers work with show dogs. Handlers accompany dogs into the show ring and are responsible for ensuring they shows off their best qualities. Other responsibilities can include pre-show grooming, traveling with dogs and caring for them during travel, doing show-related paperwork, and coordinating show schedules and arranging travel.
Some handlers also have kennels and keep the dogs with them at all times during the show season.
What’s Required: Membership in a local kennel club is a must for anyone looking to become a show dog handler. There are few official dog handler programs, but kennel clubs usually offer training on how to show a dog. They may even offer classes on specific breed requirements.
Getting Started: There are two ways to get started as a show dog handler. You can get a job as an assistant with an established handler to learn the ropes from the ground up. Alternatively, showing your own dog is a great way to learn the ins and outs of showing a dog.
Dog trainers teach dogs how to respond to commands from their owners. Trainers with specialized expertise can teach K-9 police dogs, or train a dog in drug or bomb detection. Some trainers work with service dogs for people with special needs, and some train dogs to work in movies and on TV.
What’s Required: While schooling is not required, it is highly recommended. Animal Behavior College is again a great resource to go through. Many dog owners want to know what training or certification someone has before hiring them. Trainers also need to review their training from time to time as methods and theories about dog training change over time.
Getting Started: The best way to get started as a dog trainer is to enroll in a program, such as those from Animal Behavior College. Working with an established trainer as an assistant is also a good way to start.
Dog walkers spend their days walking other people’s dogs, sometimes many dogs at a time.
What’s Required: No schooling is required, but experience growing up with or owning one or more dogs is desirable. Dog owners need walkers that are reliable. That means even if it’s pouring outside, you’ll be there to take their dog for a walk.
Getting Started: The easiest way to get started as a dog walker is to get a job with an existing company. Or, simply spread the word among dog-owning acquaintances that you're available.
Veterinarian/Vet Tech/Vet Assistant
Veterinarians help keep our dogs healthy. Vet techs and assistants help the vets do that. Like human doctors, veterinarians can be general practitioners, dentists, eye doctors, surgeons, or even specialize in things like cancer or infectious diseases.
What’s Required: To become a veterinarian, you need to complete four years of college, followed by four years of veterinary school. Like human doctors, you’ll also need to do a residency before you can become board-certified.
To be a veterinary technician, you’ll need to complete two or four years of specialized schooling (Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree) and pass a vet tech exam to become credentialed.
Veterinary assistants don’t need training of any kind.
Getting Started: The road to becoming a veterinarian is a long one that starts with college. If you’re unsure whether being a vet is right for you, try getting a job as a vet assistant or even veterinary office worker. Some vets also start off with a veterinary technician Associate’s Degree and work as a vet tech before pursuing further education.
Animal Control/Shelter Worker
It may seem contradictory for a dog lover to want to work in animal control or at an animal shelter. But though many of these work environments are kill shelters, at the end of the day, they’re about saving the lives of as many dogs as possible.
The work environment for an animal control worker can vary. Some work inside a shelter. Others spend their time picking up lost and stray animals. Some hardly work with animals at all, spending more of their time with paperwork related to dog licenses or enforcing leash laws. In some cities, animal control workers double as animal cruelty or neglect investigators.
For many animal control and shelter workers, the job is about finding new homes for abandoned animals. Or finding a lost animal’s current owner. This includes caring for the animals while they’re at the shelter.
What’s Required: A high school diploma (or GED) may be required and, depending on your state, you may also need certification in animal control. For governmental animal control jobs, you may need to go through a special application process and take a civic exam.
Getting Started: The best way to get started in animal control is to join a recognized animal control organization and train to become certified. Shelters always need volunteers, but finding a paid job at a shelter can be more difficult.