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20 High Paying Careers for Those Who Love Animals

The highest-paying animal careers come in many shapes and sizes. To learn more about the various high-paying animal-oriented jobs available to you, continue reading.

If you are an animal lover, you are probably hoping to learn how you can find a satisfying job that involves animals. The highest-paying animal careers will often require a degree, but sometimes you can find high-paying animal jobs without a degree. Those who desire high-paying animal careers have likely already heard of all the highest paying veterinary jobs, but they may not know what jobs pay the most without a degree. 

The highest-paying animal careers come in many shapes and sizes. To learn more about the various high-paying animal-oriented jobs available to you, continue reading.

Animal Rescue Careers

The world can be harsh on animals. That’s why animal rescue professionals commit themselves to improving situations for the animals they are responsible for. As an animal rescue professional, you can expect to work hands-on with animals. These are some common career paths within the field. 

Animal Shelter Manager

Animal shelters care for abandoned and displaced animals. As an animal shelter manager, you will be responsible for overseeing the animals, staff, and maintenance operations within the facility. Another important part of this job is engaging in the process of seeking funding. The shelter manager will represent their shelter at community events, hopefully bringing positive attention to their facility. This helps garner donations and assistance from the public. 

Animal shelter managers earn an average salary of approximately $38,000 per year, according to Payscale.com. There are normally education and experience requirements needed to qualify for the job. Many shelters require their manager to have at least a Bachelor’s degree in fields like Animal Studies, Public Administration, or Veterinary Science. Several years of managerial experience will often be required as well. 

Wildlife Rehabilitator

When wild animals get injured, it’s a wildlife rehabilitator’s job to help restore their ability to live independently. They help guide injured wildlife through complex rehabilitation processes with the end goal of returning them to the wild. While rehabilitators must be licensed to work in their home state, they do not require degrees normally. That means you can enter this profession soon after acquiring the proper certifications. 

Wildlife rehabilitators do not receive very high pay in many cases, but sometimes their salary can exceed $40,000. Though, the joy of helping restore animals to a better state is often highly rewarding for people in this field.   

Animal Cruelty Investigator

Sadly, animal cruelty is still prevalent throughout our society. Many people place animals in harm’s way by abusing or neglecting them. That’s why animal cruelty investigators are necessary. They help protect innocent animals by investigating potentially abusive situations and removing animals when necessary. 

Most people in this role either started in a veterinary position then changed careers, or started in a law enforcement position then applied for the job. This is a criminal justice career, therefore investigators must complete thorough training before they are eligible to work in the field. You can seek training through a law enforcement department, though there isn’t a degree requirement normally. Still, a college degree in animal science or criminal justice can help you appear as a more desirable candidate to employers. 

Animal cruelty investigators earn an average salary of $37,580. 

Veterinary Careers

Veterinary professionals care for the health of animals and work to protect public health. They are responsible for diagnosing, treating, and researching medical conditions of pets, livestock, and other animals. These are some high-paying veterinary careers. 

When an animal is injured or sick, you take them to the veterinarian’s office. While there, your pet or other animals will be examined using a variety of medical equipment, such as x-ray and ultrasound machines. Veterinarians are also qualified to run diagnostic tests on animals to determine what their ailment is. Once they’ve determined what is wrong with the animal, they prescribe treatments that are aimed at resolving their injury or ailment. 

To become a veterinarian, you must complete a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree at an accredited college of veterinary medicine. This program typically takes 4 years to complete. A majority of programs include 3 years of classroom, laboratory, and clinical work. The final year involves doing clinical rotations in a veterinary medical center or hospital. 

Once you’ve completed your education, you can start working in the field. According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), you can expect to earn an average annual salary of $99,250. Though, the highest 10 percent of veterinarians earned $164,490 annually.  

If you are interested in becoming a veterinarian, you will need to choose a specialization. There are several types of veterinarians, each with different roles and responsibilities. Here are a few examples:

Companion animal veterinarians

This type of veterinarian generally works in private clinics and hospitals. They most frequently provide care to cats and dogs, but they may also treat other common pets, such as birds, rabbits, and hamsters. They must have strong communication skills in order to consult with animal owners about preventive health care. Companion animal veterinarians also require immense knowledge, as they are responsible for carrying out medical and surgical procedures.

Food animal veterinarians

The animals that we eat also need health care up until the time that they are slaughtered for consumption. Food animal veterinarians provide care to animals like pigs, cattle, and sheep, which are raised to be food sources. They visit farms and ranches to treat animals that are ill and injured. They also test for and vaccinate against common diseases. An experienced food animal veterinarian can also earn money consulting farm owners and managers about feeding, housing, and general health practices. 

Food safety and inspection veterinarians

Farms and ranches aren’t allowed to sell animal products that are contaminated with disease. Food safety veterinarians inspect and test livestock and animal products for any major animal diseases. They also provide vaccinations for livestock animals and conduct research to help improve animal health. Through their knowledge of regulatory standards, they also help enforce food safety regulations. Experienced food safety veterinarians may even administer public health programs that prevent and control disease transmissions among animals and between animals and humans.

Jobs with Wild Animals

The term “wild animals” applies to any animal that is not tame and lives on its own without any help from humans. Though, just because these animals are wild, that doesn’t mean that they don’t need help from people sometimes. Here are some interesting jobs that involve wild animals.

Wildlife Biologist

The typical wildlife biologist studies a wildlife species in their effort to develop research, provide education, or manage wildlife populations. In this role, workers are responsible for developing and conducting experimental studies with animals in controlled or natural surroundings. These studies may involve collecting biological data for analysis, studying the characteristics of animals, or analyzing the influence that human activity has on wildlife. 

This job involves a lot of scientific testing and experimentation. Therefore, you will need a steady foundation of knowledge and skills to excel at it. That’s why most wildlife biologists need at least a bachelor’s degree to qualify for this position. Higher-level investigative work typically requires even more education, with a master’s degree being the bare minimum requirement. 

Wildlife biologists who do get hired are qualified to make exceptional pay. The average annual salary for wildlife biologists is $66,350 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  

Wildlife Officer

Parks and recreation areas that are open to the public are often home to a vast variety of wildlife. Wildlife officers help protect the natural resources, parks, and wildlife that are present across the country. Through their work, they protect endangered species and prevent other wildlife species from becoming endangered. They also work closely with other law enforcement officers to ensure that the areas they work in are safe and well-managed. 

While a degree isn’t always necessary, this is a law enforcement job, so a degree in criminal justice or criminology can be helpful. This is especially true if you lack prior military or law enforcement experience. Once you’ve been hired as a wildlife officer, you can expect to earn an average annual salary of $57,710. The top earners in this field brought in $80,140 per year. 

Jobs with Aquatic Animals

Animals that live and breed in water are commonly referred to as aquatic animals. Some people prefer these animals and would like to work with them specifically. If that sounds like you, here are some common jobs that involve working with aquatic animals. 

Marine Biologist

Marine biologists study aquatic organisms, ranging from microscopic plankton to massive whales. Most of the time, marine biologists choose a specialty field to work in. Some even choose to specialize in studying a specific species. Their job duties vary depending on who they work for, though they primarily perform research in the field or teach in the classroom. 

Marine biologists can work for a variety of different employers. Some options include zoological parks, aquariums, governmental agencies, laboratories, and educational institutions. In some cases, marine biologists may even be hired by environmental advocacy groups or the U.S. military. 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recommends that aspiring marine biologists start with an undergraduate degree in biology, then pursue a degree at the graduate level. The highest earners in this field make more than $106,320. People who stop at the undergraduate level can earn an average annual salary of $66,350. Those who choose to continue their education and earn a master’s or doctorate degree may make it into the income range of the top earners in this industry.  

Ichthyologist

As an ichthyologist, you are responsible for studying various species of bony, cartilaginous, or jawless fish. In their work, these specialized marine biologists study the history, behavior, reproductive habits, growth patterns, and environments of these fish. They may work in laboratories, museums, universities, zoos, or government facilities. Regardless of who they work for, ichthyologists will spend a significant amount of time studying fish in their natural environment. 

To get this job, you’ll need to at least earn a bachelor’s degree in zoology or marine biology. Most also pursue a master’s or doctoral degree specifically in the field of ichthyology. If you want to enter a research or education position, graduate-level education will likely be a requirement. 

Fortunately, Ichthyologists earn a stable, satisfying income. They earn an estimated $66,350 per year on average. 

Aquarist

Aquariums house fish and other marine mammals. Aquarists are responsible for caring for those animals and they have a variety of duties that are primarily focused on providing vital support to the marine creatures. Maintaining a quality environment for the animals is another critical aspect of this job. In their day-to-day work, an aquarist can expect to perform a range of different duties, including monitoring water quality and temperature, cleaning tanks, repairing equipment, and giving educational presentations to visitors. Some aquarists are even tasked with traveling to various locations to collect specimens from bodies of water. Once they’ve got the animals, they safely transport them back to the aquarium. 

Aquarists must have a Bachelor of Science degree in biology, zoology, aquaculture, or a similar field. Certifications in scuba diving, first aid, and CPR are also required. Once hired, aquarists can expect to earn salaries ranging between $40,000 to $50,000 per year. Though, new aquarists may only garner a starting salary of $20,000. 

Jobs with Dogs

Dogs are known as “man’s best friend”. If you want a career that revolves around these lovable creatures, here are some options for you to choose from. 

Dog Walker

Dogs need a lot of exercise to maintain their health. Dog walkers are responsible for keeping dogs exercised. Their main responsibility is taking dogs out for walks and helping them interact with other dogs. Once the job is done, dog walkers are expected to return the dogs to their owners in good condition. During the walks, dog walkers are expected to clean up any waste, feed the dog, and keep track of any injuries or unusual behaviors. 

Dog walkers don’t need any form of degree. Though, they should be physically fit and capable of walking long distances daily. As a dog walker, you can expect to earn approximately $30,000 per year. 

Pet Groomer

Many pet owners don’t enjoy grooming their own pets. That’s why they send them to the groomer instead. As a pet groomer, you are responsible for taking care of a pet’s physical appearance. In this role, you will brush animals, trim their fur, style their fur, and keep their nails trimmed. Pet groomers also clean animals’ teeth and check them regularly for skin conditions. Because dogs are one of the most common pets, a dog lover will be exposed to them frequently in this position. 

There is no education requirement for dog groomers, though you can take classes and get certifications that can help you get hired. On average, dog groomers earn an annual salary of $35,800.  

Jobs with Horses

Horses are normally kept as pets that can be used in a range of recreational activities. Many people own horses in the U.S., and there are many jobs that revolve around caring for these animals. Here are some examples.

Equine Vet Tech

Equine veterinary technicians are effectively nurses for horses. They help veterinarians examine the horse, collect vitals, take x-rays, and perform surgeries. There’s a long list of things an equine vet tech can help with, though they do not perform surgery, diagnose conditions, or prescribe medicine. 

This position is great for people who wish to contribute to the welfare of horses, but don’t want to complete too many years of school. To become an equine vet tech, you only need to earn an associate’s degree and get licensed to work in the state you live in. Through your education, you’ll get plenty of hands-on experience, which will help you determine whether you are truly a good fit for this occupation. If you do decide to stick with it, expect to earn an average salary of $46,000. 

Equine Massage Therapist

Horses have a complex muscular system that often gets strained when they are ridden for long periods. Equine massage therapists study the horse’s muscular system and work to relieve tension in their muscles. Their massages can improve circulation in the horse’s body and contribute positively to their general welfare. 

A college degree is not required to become an equine massage therapist, although you must be certified through a credible training program. With the right clientele, equine massage therapists may earn the national average of $60,000 annually. 

Unusual Animal Jobs

Some high-paying animal careers are not like ordinary jobs. Here are some examples of unusual animal jobs. 

Animal Colorist

When media productions need animals to look a certain way on set, they hire animal colorists to get the job done. For example, an animal colorist may be hired to make a husky look like a wolf or to dye an animal’s fur pink using products that are safe for animals. They may also groom and train animals to ensure that they are comfortable on-set. This helps them avoid misbehavior. 

Beyond coloring animal “actors”, Animal Colorists also perform coloring for everyday consumers who want their pet to have a unique look. In some cases, they may even teach others how to properly and safely color their animals. 

Animal colorists aren’t normally paid a salary. Instead, they charge day rates to the production they are working for. This rate can range anywhere between $300 - $1000 per day. 

Humane Educators

When people need to learn more about animal welfare and behavior, they turn to humane educators. These professionals present educational programs to school groups, businesses, and other organizations. In doing so, they help their students understand how to engage with animals. This improves the experience of both humans and animals! This may not seem like an animal rescue job, but it actually helps keep animals safe. If people have the knowledge needed to understand how to properly treat animals, the animals will generally be better protected. 

Humane educators earn an average annual salary of approximately $40,000. If you are interested in this career path, you may want to acquire a degree in education or a related field, although that is not required. To make it easier to get your foot in the door, you can also acquire certifications through the Humane Society of the United States. 

High Paying Animal Jobs

If you want to make a lot of money working with animals, but you don’t want to become a veterinarian, you still have options. Here are some high-paying animal careers you can choose from. 

Farmer

Farmers run establishments that produce crops, livestock, and dairy products. They are responsible for supervising the care and raising of any livestock and animals that live on their farm. This job involves deciding all aspects of the animals’ lives, from what they eat to how they are housed. For an animal lover, this can be a unique experience that gets you incredibly close to the animals you love. 

You don’t need a college degree to run a farm, but significant work experience is mandatory. Without the knowledge and experience of a veteran farmworker, you may struggle to keep your farm operating safely and efficiently. As a farmer, you can expect to earn a median annual salary of $69,620. 

Animal Scientist

Animal scientists research ways to improve the safety and efficiency of agricultural practices that relate to farm animals. As an animal scientist, you’d be responsible for studying animal genetics, nutrition, reproduction, development, and overall growth. You could also be involved in researching common diseases that impact the yield of these animals. Animal scientists play an essential role in farms, as they offer great insight into how to improve animal housing and overall animal health. 

You’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree to become an animal scientist, although many who thrive in this field also have advanced degrees. The median annual pay for animal scientists is $60,000 and more jobs are expected to open in this field by 2026. 

Fish and Game Warden

Fish and game wardens patrol fishing and hunting locations to make sure that visitors are in compliance with federal, state, and local fishing, hunting, and boating laws. These workers primarily investigate complaints and accidents. They also help educate the public about laws that pertain to the fish and other wildlife they are responsible for. To become a fish and game warden, you’ll likely need a bachelor’s degree in a related field, like wildlife science or biology. Though, you can earn greatly in this career path. Fish and game wardens earn a median annual salary of $56,410. 

Join The Highest Paying Animal Careers Available

If you are interested in obtaining one of the highest-paying animal careers, you’ll need to build your resume by pursuing education and work opportunities. Depending on how hard you work, you may be able to earn a steady living doing what you love. Whether you prefer a career in animal rescue or specifically one where you get to work with jobs, there are plentiful options. Why not start taking the initial steps today?

Katy Boyles |
Categories: Find
Katy (she/her) is our Social Media Manager at Snagajob, where she loves talking to hourly workers and employers all day long. Her first hourly job was as a hostess.