Top 9 Animal Jobs

The Best Careers for Animal Lovers

Two veterinary students in blue scrubs smiling and posing with a golden retriever and a Labrador retriever on a grassy field outside Scrubs Cafe, UC Davis.
UC Davis Veterinary Medicine students share a moment with their canine friends during a break outside Scrubs Cafe on May 3, 2023. (UC Davis)

Considering a career working with animals? While the most common job for animal lovers to aspire to is a veterinarian, there are many more options for those wishing to interact with creatures big and small. Whether you are passionate about conservation or prefer to hang out with more exotic wildlife, here is a list of the top job opportunities where you can work with animals. 

Animal care and management 

A student in a dark blue t-shirt and glasses crouches to pet black and white dairy cows behind a fence at UC Davis.
A UC Davis student gently pets dairy cows during orientation, connecting with campus agricultural life in Sept. 2020. (Student Housing Office/UC Davis)

1. Animal nutritionist 

If you have a passion for both food science and animals, then becoming an animal nutritionist might be for you. Animal nutritionists are nutritional caretakers and the curators of individual animals’ diets. Responsibilities for this job include planning species-specific diets, researching animal nutrition and conducting consultations.

This job is especially important in zoos and rehabilitation centers. Animal nutritionists will often work with on-site veterinarians to find foods that are the most beneficial for an animal’s needs. By looking at things like an animal’s environment and the amount of physical activity they do, animal nutritionists can create diet plans for all their animal patients. 

Median annual wage in the U.S. (2022)

Recommended majors

2. Farm handler

Farm handlers are responsible for the general maintenance and management of farms. They are in charge of providing training to farmers, working with livestock and aiding in animal transportation. If you want to combine managerial skills with farm animals, then consider becoming a farm handler. 

Median annual wage in the U.S. (2022)

Recommended majors

Veterinary medicine

Dr. Crystal Roger, dressed in a white lab coat, carefully observes a pale axolotl contained in a clear tank in her laboratory setting.
Dr. Crystal Rogers, assistant professor in the School of Veterinary Medicine, examines an axolotl in her lab in the Vet Med 3B building in May 2023. (Karin Higgins/UC Davis)

3. Veterinarian 

Veterinarians are animal doctors tasked with diagnosing and treating illnesses and injuries. As a veterinarian, you can expect to provide medical advice, perform checkups, administer yearly vaccines and even perform surgery on your animal patients.

Veterinary patients include pets and livestock. If you receive specialized training, you can even work with exotic animals like reptiles. Though there is a lot of schooling involved, most become veterinarians because of their love of animals and interest in the medical field. 

Median annual wage in the U.S. (2022)

Recommended major

4. Veterinary technician 

Veterinary technicians work under the supervision of veterinarians the same way nurses work under doctors. They are responsible for assisting in medical procedures, collecting laboratory samples and providing medications to all their animal patients.

If you are interested in working in the veterinary field but do not want to go through many years of veterinary school, consider becoming a veterinary technician. 

Median annual wage in the U.S. (2022)

Recommended major

Similar jobs

  • Veterinary nurse 
  • Veterinary assistant 

Animal conservation and protection

Kimberly Luke, alongside Tena Dhayalan, an animal biology major, and Angela Cabico, an environmental science management major, carry equipment along a path in the UC Davis Arboretum.
Kimberly Luke (right), a graduate student in the Center for Watershed Sciences, leads Tena Dhayalan (left) and Angela Cabico through the Arboretum after a fish biology class in November 2021. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

5. Conservation officer 

Becoming a conservation officer is the perfect job for anyone who prefers the outdoors and dislikes sitting behind a desk all day. Conservation officers are fully-trained law enforcement personnel who enforce all laws meant to protect wildlife.

By catching poachers, enforcing hunting and fishing regulations and maintaining national parks, conservation officers are dedicated to the natural environment. If you are interested in this field, you will need to complete firearms safety training, peace officer training and training in environmental management before you can begin. 

Median annual wage in the U.S. (2022)

Recommended majors

Similar jobs

  • Park ranger 
  • Humane investigator 

6. Conservation biologist

Drawn to science and research? Consider being a conservation biologist. Conservation biologists are scientists who study the Earth’s climate, environmental trends and population to better protect animals and their habitats.

Their main job is to find solutions for restoring the environment and protecting natural resources. However, conservation biologists can also expect to speak with government officials and the public to educate them on environmental threats and actions we can take to protect the planet. 

Median annual wage in the U.S. (2022)

Recommended major

7. Animal care and service worker

Animal care workers look after different kinds of animals, feeding and cleaning them, watching how they act, and checking if they are sick or hurt. These workers help animals get exercise and train them too.

There are many kinds of animal care workers. Groomers keep pets looking their best, and kennel attendants care for pets when owners are away. Shelter attendants help pets find new homes, and zookeepers take care of animals in zoos. They all share one thing in common — a big heart for animals.

Median annual wage in the U.S. (2022)

Recommended majors

Wildlife research

Two individuals at the UC Davis' Bohart Museum on Picnic Day, closely observing a walking stick bug perched on one of their hands, with expressions of focused curiosity on their faces.
Iris Bright, a graduate student in entomology, introduces Picnic Day attendees to the wonders of the walking stick bug at the Bohart Museum, allowing for an up-close and personal experience in April 2022. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

8. Zoologist 

Zoologists are scientists who study animals and how they interact with their environments. Zoologists conduct experiments with animals to gather biological data and samples to learn more about their behaviors.

Analyzing animals’ interactions with other species, managing populations and observing human influence on nature are just a few of the responsibilities zoologists encounter on the job. 

Median annual wage in the U.S. (2022)

Recommended majors

Similar jobs 

  • Marine biologist 
  • Wildlife biologist 

9. Entomologist 

While most jobs deal with bigger animals, entomologists are all about smaller critters. Entomologists are scientists who study insects, their environments and their behaviors.

Insects outnumber all other life forms on Earth and play a role in most environmental functions. As a result, entomologists are essential to protecting insect species and finding ways to work with insects to restore ecosystems. 

Median annual wage in the U.S. (2022)

Recommended major

Sheep calmly grazing on a grassy field at UC Davis, with one sheep looking toward the camera and students painting in the background, shaded by a large tree.
The sheep mowers of UC Davis enjoy a sunny lunchtime graze near the Silo and Bainer Hall, inspiring passersby to capture the pastoral scene with watercolors in April 2022. (Karin Higgins/UC Davis)

Whether you find yourself in a lab coat, on a farm, or deep in the heart of a national park, if you have a passion for the welfare of animals and the conservation of our planet, any of these careers could be for you. There’s a fulfilling career out there for every animal lover who dreams of making a positive impact in the world. 

Fortunately, UC Davis is not only ranked No. 1 in the nation in veterinary medicine, but also has plenty of majors that are keys to unlocking a diverse array of careers with animals, from research and conservation to therapy and nutrition.

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Jaylynn Velhagen-Dizon (she/her) is a fourth year English major and Cinema and Digital Media major. She is from Southern California, and it is her first year as a Majors Blog intern for UC Davis' Office of Strategic Communications. Jaylynn's favorite part of campus is the Arboretum and Public Garden, where she enjoys bird watching and admiring the poppies every spring.

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