Careers in Animal Advocacy: Job Options and Requirements

Those who want to devote their lives to the protection and care of animals have several career options from which to choose. Job options range from providing physical care for abandoned pets in shelters to managing large advocacy organizations. While requirements for these jobs are likewise varied, some animal advocacy groups recommend that those who aspire to a career in animal advocacy get their start by volunteering in a local shelter or on behalf of an animal welfare group.

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Animal Health Worker

Veterinarians and veterinary technicians and technologists provide healthcare services to animals. A veterinary technician or technologist assists the veterinarian by performing tests, taking vital signs and monitoring the condition of animal patients. Veterinarians can diagnose conditions, prescribe medications and treatments and perform surgery on animals.

Requirements

Veterinarians must hold a doctoral-level degree before they can receive a license to practice, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). Veterinary technicians typically need an associate's degree from a community college in veterinary technology whereas a veterinary technologist must earn a bachelor's degree in the same subject matter.

Career Prospects and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that the number of jobs for veterinarians will increase 36% from 2010-2020, while the number of jobs for veterinary technicians and technologists will increase 52% during that same decade (www.bls.gov). The BLS reports that veterinarian jobs paid a median salary of $84,460 in 2012, and veterinary technologist and technician jobs paid a median salary of $30,290.

Legal and Social Advocate

Many political as well as non-profit organizations advocate for animals by working to change laws, raise money for animal welfare projects and educate the public. These organizations often rely on lawyers, lobbyists and management professionals to get their message out and influence legislation.

Requirements

The requirements needed to hold a position with an advocacy group depend on the duties that will be performed. Attorneys, for example, will need to complete law school and receive their license to practice law. Lobbyists may hold a law license, or have a degree and experience in marketing or public relations. Those who manage animal advocacy groups may have undergraduate or graduate degrees in non-profit management. These workers may also complete training workshops or continuing education courses that focus on animal welfare issues.

Career Prospects and Salary Information

According to the BLS, jobs for lawyers are expected to grow 10% from 2010-2020; in 2012, the median salary for lawyers was $113,530. Lobbyists, which are a kind of public relations specialist, are predicted to see job growth of 21% from 2010-2020, per the BLS, and their median salary was $54,170 in 2012. General management jobs are predicted to increase at a slower than average rate of 3%-9% from 2010-2020, according to the Department of Labor's O*Net OnLine (www.onetonline.org). O*Net OnLine also reports that workers in this job earned a median salary of $95,440 in 2012.

Animal Care Worker

An animal care worker works can assist in the care of animals in a variety of contexts. Many animal shelters rely on animal care workers to regularly feed, groom and socialize shelter residents.

Requirements

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, animal shelter workers don't usually need any special education or training, although many may have the option of completing classes offered by a shelter or by larger animal welfare organizations. Volunteering at an animal shelter is a good way to learn basic shelter animal care.

Career Prospects and Salary Information

The BLS reports that the number of jobs for animal care and service workers is expected to increase 23% from 2010-2020. These jobs are counted by the BLS along with personal care and service occupations in general; these jobs paid a median salary of $20,840 in 2012.

Animal Control Officer

Animal control officers often work with or for law enforcement agencies. These officers investigate claims of animal cruelty, reports of out-of-control or dangerous animals and may assist wounded or injured wild animals that are found in residential areas. An animal control officer may also work to educate the community on animal safety and welfare issues by making presentations in schools and at community meetings.

Requirements

Requirements to become an animal control officer vary by location. Some states have established laws on the credentials that an animal control officer must hold while other states allow local police departments to set their own credentialing requirements. An animal control officer may be required to complete the standard process for becoming a police officer, including graduation from a police academy. The officer may then have to complete a separate training or certification program that specifically addresses animal welfare and control issues.

Career Prospects and Salary Information

O*Net OnLine reports that animal control worker jobs are expected to increase at an average rate, from 10%-19%, between 2010 and 2020. This same source reports that animal control workers earned a median salary of $31,680 in 2012.

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