Ways to help animals as a career

Have you ever wondered about a career working with animals? From being a vet to a wildlife specialist, to working in television and creating programs about animals, there are numerous ways you can make a difference for animals in your lifetime. People who work with animals can have a variety of backgrounds. Usually, one requirement is a great love of animals and a concern for their well being. People who are interested in a career working with animals might take classes in biology, zoology, animal behavior, and small animal health sciences in college. Certain careers, such as those working in veterinary fields, require an extensive medical education. Choosing a career is one of the most important decisions a person can make. Your career should make you happy and reflect what you want to give back to the world. People who care for animals can choose from several different career paths. One of those paths is to become a humane professional - these are the people who work at animal shelters caring for homeless pets. Here's a look at some jobs at an animal shelter:

Animal Behaviorists

Animal behaviorists learn and observe how animals relate to each other and to people. While an animal behaviorist may work in a variety of animal-related settings, like a zoo or an aquarium, some animal behaviorists work at animal shelters or assist pet owners with pet behavior problems. In this role, the animal behaviorist helps the pet by helping the human companion better understand why pets do the things they do. Why does a dog jump on people? Why is the cat not using the litter box and what can be done to change this behavior? Animal behaviorists may also help shelters identify good-natured pets that should be placed for adoption and work with other pets that might need a little more training before being placed in a good home. This job requires an extensive education in animal behavior.

Animal Care Attendants

Animal care attendants provide the actual day-to-day care for the shelter pets. They clean kennels, provide food and water to the animals and may administer medications. It's a very hands-on job that puts you in direct contact with animals every day. Some shelters look for volunteers to assist with these duties. It's a great way to get started working for shelters.

Animal Control Agency Director

An animal control agency director runs a shelter that is funded by the city. They help animals too, providing many of the same services as a humane society. The biggest difference is that animal control agencies are concerned with public safety. They protect people from health risks and the dangers that stray and loose animals can cause to people in the community. They often represent the agency at public functions and manage the overall operation of the shelter.

Animal Shelter Veterinarian

An animal shelter veterinarian treats sick or injured animals or provides well-care exams for the animals at the shelter. They are responsible for the individual care of all the shelter pets as well as the health and well being of the entire shelter population. Shelter veterinarians make sure that the animals coming into the shelter do not spread diseases to other animals in the shelter. They often spay and neuter adopted pets to ensure they won't contribute to the pet population problem. The job requires an extensive education, including veterinary school.

Adoption Counselors

Adoption counselors help people find the right pet for their family's lifestyle. They have to learn about the potential adopter's needs as well as the various personalities of all the animals available for adoption. Making the right match helps ensure that a pet has found a permanent home and won't be returned to the animal shelter. This job is good for someone who likes to work with both people and animals.

Cruelty Investigators

Cruelty investigators respond to complaints about people who may be hurting or neglecting their pets. They may work with an animal shelter, animal control facility or police department handling animal cruelty investigations. Investigators can usually enforce cruelty laws by making arrests or giving citations if only a minor law is broken. Cruelty investigators are like animal detectives, they have to help law enforcement officials and prosecutors collect evidence to prepare an animal cruelty case for trial. This job usually requires training in law enforcement and investigation techniques.

Fundraising Specialists

Fundraising specialists help organize special events to raise money for the animal shelter's many programs. Animal shelters cannot operate or care for the animals without money to support their programs and services. Animal control agencies usually receive money from the city budget, while humane societies survive on contributions from the community. Fundraising specialists are important to keep the work of the agency going. This job is great for a person who likes to organize events and enjoys working with people.

Humane Educators

Humane educators present programs to youth and adults on various humane topics, including pet responsibility, bite prevention and kindness to animals. Their role is to educate the public and affect the community's view and behavior towards animals. These presentations are often given in schools, at business club meetings or at the shelter. Teachers who are comfortable speaking before groups often fill these jobs.

Humane Society Director

A humane society director runs an animal shelter where the ultimate goal is to ensure the humane care and treatment of the animals. The director supervises staff and ensures that the shelter's programs and services are helping homeless pets. They also have to find individuals and donors to donate to the agency, since humane societies are funded entirely by private donations. This job usually requires a lot of people skills, as the director usually works more with people in the community than the animals in the shelter.


If you are interested in working with animals, you can begin before you are out of school by volunteering at a local humane society. Your volunteer work will give you exposure to many different species of animals while performing a great community service at the same time. Also, read books on animal careers to see how your interests and concern for animals might become a lifelong career.