A veterinarian is a medical professional whose job is to protect the health and well-being of animals. Besides providing healthcare services to sick and injured animals, veterinarians also talk to pets and livestock owners about the best way to take care of them. When going into practice, veterinarians take an oath that they will use their scientific knowledge and skills to benefit society through the protection of animal health, the relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge.
The majority of their work is done outdoors. In some cases, veterinarians might travel to remote locations to provide healthcare to animals, or to inspect facilities. Some of the responsibilities of a veterinarian include:
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- Examining animals to determine their health status
- Dressing the wounds of injured animals
- Diagnosing illnesses and determining an ideal treatment
- Vaccinate animals for disease prevention
- Conduct emergency home visits
To become a veterinarian, you must complete a four-year undergraduate degree (to earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree). However, sometimes you might be awarded a DVM without completing the undergraduate degree. For that to happen, you’d have to pursue veterinary-related courses during the first 2-3 years of your undergraduate studies and then join a special DVM program.
Some subjects taught in a DVM program include pharmacology, radiology, and veterinary psychology. On top of getting the degree, veterinarians need to be licensed to practice legally. They also need to pass a certification exam – usually offered by various entities, such as the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination.
As of August 2022, the average annual salary of a veterinarian was $106,098. Pay depends on skill level, location, and years of experience. Below is a comprehensive list of other career paths similar to being a veterinarian.
A zookeeper’s job is to take care of exotic animals in zoos and other facilities to ensure that the habitat is safe and ideal. The zookeeper keeps track of the animal’s physical and mental health. That makes it so similar to a veterinarian’s job.
Other typical duties of a zookeeper include:
- Educating zoo visitors
- Reporting unusual behavior or signs of injury to supervisors
- Documenting behavior patterns of animals
- Assisting with veterinary exams
- Raising young animals
On average, a zookeeper takes home $23,400 per year/$16.72 per hour. However, that depends on their level of education, technical knowledge, and the location of the facility where they work. Most zookeepers have a Bachelor’s Degree in Life Sciences.
However, it’s possible to land a zookeeper’s job with a diploma and relevant experience. Sometimes, a zookeeper can pick specific classes in college depending on the animals they aspire to work with. Notably, a zookeeper’s job can be challenging.
For instance, zookeepers sometimes have to restrain animals, which poses the risk of them getting injured. They are also on their feet most of the time, sometimes doing the heavy lifting, like lifting cages when cleaning.
A paramedic’s job is similar to a veterinarian’s in that they both provide medical care. However, paramedics only respond to emergencies. Usually, they go to the scene using an ambulance or any other emergency vehicle.
Once they get to the location, they assess the situation and provide necessary medical assistance. If the patient needs further medical aid, paramedics transport them to a suitable medical facility while keeping them stable throughout the ride. Paramedics handle all sorts of patients, from accident casualties to people with trouble breathing.
Some also work with animals. Primary duties and responsibilities of a paramedic include:
- Cleaning and maintaining supplies inside the emergency vehicle
- Providing first aid as necessary
- Responding to emergency calls
- Transporting patients to medical facilities
The primary prerequisite to becoming a paramedic is a high school diploma and a minimum age of 18. You must get CPR certification and sign up for an EMT course. You’ll then need to get a license to practice and an EMT.
Only after you’ve become an EMT can you enroll on a paramedic training program. In some cases, you might be required to have at least one year of experience as an EMT to train as a paramedic. Once you’ve completed the program, you will need a license to practice in your state.
How much a paramedic makes will depend on factors like years of experience and geographical location. However, the United States average salary for a paramedic is $49,157 per year/ $27.28 per hour.
Just like a veterinarian, a breeder spends hours on end with animals. Their primary job is mating animals to produce babies. They then take care of these animals until they can survive without their mother and sell them.
Most breeders work with a specific type of animal. A breeder can specialize further. For instance, you might find a dog breeder specializing in German Shepherds.
In most cases, breeders own large chunks of land from which they raise the animals, but that depends on the animals in question. For instance, a horse breeder needs a large piece of land to run the business. On the other hand, a small-scale breeder can run the operations from home, sometimes even in a city apartment.
All one needs to become a breeder is extensive knowledge of the breed they wish to work with. They also need to be conversant with state regulations regarding their practice. There are so many programs from which one can get this knowledge.
Many colleges offer two-year and four-year programs in animal science or animal husbandry. On average, an animal breeder in the United States makes $40,090 per year. Breeders in Ohio make the most money.
4. Kennel Attendant
A kennel attendant’s job is similar to a veterinarian’s job since the attendant also provides immediate medical attention to animals in kennels, shelters, and other holding areas. However, their primary job is feeding, watering, and cleaning up after the animals. That means their job is mostly indoors.
Usually, kennel attendants handle various animals – from dogs to fish to reptiles. That means they need vast knowledge to address the different breeds and unique circumstances that might arise. Other responsibilities include:
- Screening potential adopters to assess suitability
- Preparing animals for adoption
- Cleaning up after animals who have accidents in their cages
- Grooming animals, e.g. clipping their nails and trimming their hair
- Walking dogs
This job has no formal education requirements to become a kennel attendant. The only thing that most employers look for is prior experience working with animals, although most of them provide training for the right candidate. It is also vital to have traits like patience and compassion.
Physical strength and stamina also come in handy since you might sometimes have to carry the animals and their cages. On average, a kennel attendant makes $30,835 per year, which translates to around $13.23 per hour.
5. Marine Biologist
A marine biologist has to study oceans and their organisms. Like a veterinarian, a marine biologist aims to protect life, except their job is in water. Some marine biologists also specialize in research.
For instance, some study fish populations, and others test for bioactive drugs. Tasks include:
- Rehabilitation of injured marine animals
- Conducting scientific experiments on-site or in a lab
- Studying marine wildlife
A bachelor’s degree in marine biology or a related field is the minimum requirement to get a job. However, some employers might prefer a candidate with a master’s degree specializing in marine biology and aquatic studies. Some jobs might also like candidates with a doctorate degree.
A marine biologist can work in places such as zoos or aquariums. However, sometimes they might have to go outdoors. For instance, they might have to scuba dive for specimens.
The average salary of a marine biologist is $52,169 per year or $22.97 per hour.
6. Ranch Manager
A ranch manager’s job is similar to a veterinarian’s since they both have animals under their care. However, the ranch manager’s scope goes beyond caring for the animals. They are also responsible for the smooth running of the entire ranch.
Their responsibilities include:
- Hiring, training, supervising and firing ranch staff
- Maintaining records of animal feedings, vaccinations, breeding schedules and other necessary information
- Ensuring that guests on the ranch have a good time
- Evaluate ranch performance
The minimum educational requirement for a ranch manager is a high school diploma or GED. One might also be required to have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in ranch management or agriculture. Some states might require a ranch manager to have specific certifications and licenses.
Essential skills to excel as a ranch manager include communication, organization, and adaptability. Typically, ranch managers work outdoors. They may have to travel long distances to access different parts of the ranch.
On average, a ranch manager takes home $45,958 a year. Some of the highest-paying cities in the United States include Helm, CA and Riverdale, CA.
7. Veterinary Assistant
As the name suggests, a veterinary assistant provides hands-on help to veterinarians, doctors, and other veterinary professionals. Therefore, this role is significantly similar to that of a veterinarian. However, their job description is not restricted to providing healthcare for animals.
Other responsibilities include:
- Preparing animals for examinations, surgery and tests by carrying out activities like applying antiseptic creams
- Preparing examination equipment
- Recording medical histories of patients, such as current health status and previous treatments
- Helping veterinarians diagnose illnesses and administer treatments such as intravenous fluids
To become a veterinary assistant, you require a high school diploma or GED. Some veterinary clinics might need you to have completed an associate’s degree in veterinary technology. These programs take around two years to complete and are offered in community colleges and technical schools.
Courses in these programs include anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, and animal care. The work environment differs. Some settings where a veterinary assistant can work include animal shelters, zoos, research laboratories, and private veterinary clinics.
The average salary for a veterinary assistant in the United States is $36,872 or $15.79 per hour.
Ecologists and veterinarians have much in common – they deal with living things. Ecologists’ main job is to observe and analyze ecosystems. The data they derive from the analysis is used to make decisions revolving around conservation efforts and other policy issues.
Other duties include:
- Conducting chemical analysis of water samples
- Consulting with organizations to help minimize environmental impacts
- Monitoring environmental changes in ecosystems
An ecologist can focus on a particular topic within the field, such as the effects of climate change on animal populations. Due to the nature of their job, ecologists spend so much time outdoors observing and collecting samples. However, they also spend significant time indoors compiling reports.
On average, an ecologist in the United States makes $69,139 annually, which is around $29.70 per hour.
9. Veterinary Surgeon
Like a veterinarian, a veterinary surgeon is responsible for the health of animals. However, while all veterinarians are qualified to perform some surgical work, veterinary surgeons have special training to perform advanced surgical procedures. Besides performing surgical procedures, they also carry out other tasks, such as:
- Supervising post-operative care
- Evaluating nuclear scans
- Drafting case reports
- Carrying out pre-surgical exams and diagnostic tests
To become a veterinary surgeon, you need to earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree, which takes four years to complete. You must also complete at least a year of internship, followed by a three-year residency program approved by the American College of Veterinary Surgeons. Like a veterinarian, a veterinary surgeon must be licensed by the state where they will practice.
The average salary for a veterinary surgeon practising in the United States is $120,965 per year. That translates to around $60.48 per hour.
A pediatrician’s job is quite similar to a veterinarian’s job since they both provide primary healthcare services to their patients. Pediatricians treat newborns, children, adolescents, and young adults. Another intricate similarity between the two professions is the need for a keen eye.
Newborns and toddlers can’t express their symptoms, so they have to analyze other symptoms to diagnose a patient critically. Similarly, veterinarians rely on observation when handling their patients. Duties and responsibilities of a pediatrician include:
- Performing regular check-ups
- Diagnosing and treating illnesses and other health conditions
- Offering health advice to parents
- Tracking a child’s development
Notably, pediatricians undergo thorough training. They start by getting a four-year undergraduate degree, during which they take pre-medical courses like biology and chemistry. Next, they spend four years in medical school and another three years in pediatric residency.
Some pediatricians can spend a couple more years pursuing a subspecialty. On average, a pediatrician practicing in the United States makes $176,045 per year.
11. Pet Adoption Counselor
Pet adoption counselors are involved with animal lives as much as veterinarians are. Their job is to facilitate the adoption of animals at animal shelters. Therefore, they need to assess the personalities and needs of animals and match them to a suitable family of adopters.
It is a job that calls for empathy and compassion since some animals might be abandoned or injured. The day-to-day responsibilities of a pet adoption counselor include:
- Reviewing adoption application
- Educating the family of adopters about proper pet care
- Processing adoption fees
- Training and supervising volunteers
Sometimes, pet adoption counselors might perform other duties, such as walking dogs and cleaning after animals at the adoption facility. Besides, it’s their job to explain the decision of the adoption facility to the applicant should they not be a match. There is usually no formal education requirement for this job.
However, successful completion of courses in animal behavior would be helpful. You must also demonstrate a passion for rescue work and experience handling animals. The median salary for a pet adoption counselor in the United States is about $24,516 per year.
That may vary depending on the years of experience and the city.
12. Animal Control Officer
An animal control officer works towards the well-being of animals like a veterinarian, but their focus is on how animals are taken care of. They also work towards upholding public safety. Their primary duties and responsibilities include:
- Investigating alleged animal abuse
- Patrolling assigned areas seeking stray or injured animals
- Providing minor medical treatment if need be
- Speaking to community groups about proper animal care
- Transporting animals to agencies, shelters or veterinarian clinics while locating owners
To pursue an animal control officer career, you need a high school diploma or GED. Some companies might also require you to have a college degree in criminology or an animal-related field. However, most employers provide training on animal care and nutrition, cruelty investigation procedures, and humane capture techniques once you get hired.
Some of the skills and competencies one needs for this job include physical strength, stamina, and emotional stability. An animal control officer makes an average of $19.90 per hour or $31,410 per year. Some of the highest paying cities for this job include Charlotte, NC and Louisville, KY.
13. Laboratory Animal Caretaker
The role of a laboratory animal caretaker is similar to that of a veterinarian since it involves animal handling. The distinction is that a laboratory animal caretaker is restricted to a lab setting or similar facilities. Their primary job is monitoring and caring for each animal within the facility, usually under the supervision of veterinarians.
Their daily responsibilities include:
- Feeding animals
- Providing basic veterinary care
- Examining signs of illness or injury
- Providing post-operative care
- Preparing samples for the laboratory technologists
Most employers will only require a high school diploma or its equivalent. It is also necessary to have previous experience handling the job, although most companies provide training. The average annual salary for a laboratory animal caretaker is $39,927.
14. Pet Groomer
Pet groomers work towards an animal’s well-being, just like a veterinarian, by providing cosmetic services. Responsibilities include:
- Dematting and detangling the pet’s hair
- Trimming their nails
- Cleaning their ears
- Brushing their teeth
- Bathing, conditioning, and drying pets
The job can be physically straining since it requires one to stand for hours, sometimes lifting heavy pets. Requirements include a high school diploma or equivalent, physical agility and stamina, and excellent communication skills. It is also essential to have emotional capacity since the job might involve handling anxious or aggressive animals.
Some employers might also require a certification from the National Dog Groomer Association of America. On average, a pet groomer in the United States makes $21.13 per hour or $45,738 per year.
15. Veterinary Technician
A veterinary technician is a trained professional who assists veterinarians in the care of animals. They typically have an associate’s degree from an accredited veterinary technology program. The average veterinary technician makes about $36,850 annually, but salaries can range from $35,000 to over $46,000.
You’ll work closely with veterinarians and other veterinary technicians in animal hospitals, clinics, and different settings. Veterinary technicians perform many of the same tasks as veterinarians, including examining animals, taking X-rays, and running laboratory tests. They also may assist with surgeries and provide nursing care to sick or injured animals.
A typical day may also involve meeting with clients and their pets, keeping animal treatment records, and advising on animal care and diet.
16. Animal Shelter Worker
An animal shelter worker is responsible for caring for animals in a shelter. There are no set education requirements, but most animal shelter workers have at least a high school diploma. They typically work for a government agency or non-profit organization.
The average animal shelter worker makes about $25,000 annually, but salaries can range from $23,000 to over $27,000. Animal shelter workers may feed and exercise, clean the facilities, and provide medical care to sick or injured animals. They also may help people through the pet adoption process.
17. Wildlife Biologist
A wildlife biologist studies plants and animals in their natural habitats. They typically have a bachelor’s degree in biology or another related field. The average wildlife biologist makes about $64,000 annually, but salaries can range from $45,000 to over $70,000.
You’ll work closely with other biologists and scientists in field research. Wildlife biologists may study the effects of pollution on animals, the impact of climate change on wildlife populations, or the behavior of animals in the wild. They also may work to conserve endangered species.
18. Kennel Manager
A kennel manager is responsible for caring for animals in a kennel or animal shelter. They typically work for a government agency or nonprofit organization. There are no set education requirements, but most kennel managers have at least a high school diploma.
Sometimes, experience may be more important than education. This job is like an animal shelter worker but involves supervisory duties. The average kennel manager makes about $48,000 annually, but salaries can range from $32,000 to over $90,000.
You’ll work closely with other animal caretakers and veterinarians in animal care and husbandry. Kennel managers may feed and exercise the animals, clean the facilities, and provide medical care to sick or injured animals. They also may help educate the public about the animals in their care.
19. Farm Manager
A farm manager runs a farm. They typically have a bachelor’s degree in agriculture or another related field. Experience may outrank education for some jobs.
The average farm manager makes about $73,100 annually, but salaries can range from $38,000 to over $125,000. You’ll work closely with other farmers and agricultural workers in crop production. Farm managers may oversee the planting and harvesting of crops, the care of animals, and the maintenance of farm equipment.
They also may help educate the public about agriculture and farm life. A typical day on the job may involve meeting with workers to discuss the day’s tasks, inspecting the crops and animals, and keeping track of production.
20. Animal Nutritionist
An animal nutritionist studies the nutritional needs of animals. They typically have a bachelor’s degree in animal science or another related field. The average animal nutritionist makes about $76,038 annually, but salaries can exceed $90,000.
The typical work setting is in zoos, animal shelters, or veterinary clinics. You will collaborate with other veterinarians in responsible breeding practices as an animal caretaker. Animal nutritionists may develop diets for animals, monitor food intake, and evaluate their health of animals.
They also may help educate the public about animal nutrition.
21. Animal Rescue Coordinator
An animal rescue coordinator helps to rescue animals from abusive or neglectful situations. They typically have a high school diploma, but some jobs may require postsecondary education or certification. For example, if you’re working with an extensive network of nonprofit organizations, you may need to be certified in project management.
The average animal rescue coordinator makes about $33,397 annually, but salaries can reach $54,266, depending on experience. You’ll work closely with other animal caretakers, veterinarians, and law enforcement officials. Animal rescue coordinators may investigate reports of abuse or neglect, remove animals from dangerous situations, and provide medical care to sick or injured animals.
They also may help educate the public about animal welfare.
22. Wildlife Rehabilitator
A wildlife rehabilitator helps sick, injured, or orphaned animals return to the wild. They typically have a bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology or another related field. The average wildlife rehabilitator makes about $27,800 annually, but salaries can range from $21,700 to over $56,900.
You’ll work closely with other biologists, veterinarians, and animal caretakers. Wildlife rehabilitators may provide medical care to sick or injured animals, raise orphaned animals, and release animals back into the wild. They also may help educate the public about wildlife conservation.
A typical day includes cleaning cages, preparing food, and checking on the animals.
23. Agricultural and Food Scientist
Although it’s not directly related to veterinarian work, an agricultural and food scientist researches ways to improve the quality and safety of food. They typically have a bachelor’s degree in agricultural science or another related field. According to the BLS, the average agricultural and food scientist makes an average of 74,160 per year., but salaries can range from $45,760 to over $80,000.
You’ll work in a laboratory setting and collaborate with other scientists. Sometimes you’ll go out into the field to collect samples. Agricultural and food scientists may develop new ways to grow crops, process food, and improve food quality.
They also may help educate the public about food safety. A typical day includes conducting experiments, analyzing data, and writing reports.
A microbiologist studies microscopic organisms such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi. They typically have a bachelor’s degree in microbiology or another related field. The average microbiologist makes about $79,260 annually, but salaries can exceed $80,000.
You’ll work in a laboratory setting and collaborate with other scientists. Microbiologists may study the effects of microorganisms on humans, animals, and plants. They also may help develop new ways to prevent or treat diseases.
A typical day includes conducting experiments, analyzing data, and writing reports.
25. Veterinary Radiologist
A veterinary radiologist interprets diagnostic images of animals, such as X-rays and MRIs. They typically have a bachelor’s degree in veterinary science or another related field. The average veterinary radiologist makes about $100,000 annually, but salaries can range from $95,000 to over $105,000.
You’ll work in a hospital or clinic setting and collaborate with other veterinarians. Veterinary radiologists may diagnose diseases, help develop new diagnostic techniques and provide consultative services. They also may help educate the public about animal health.
A typical day includes interpreting images, consulting clients, and writing reports.
26. Veterinary Pharma Representative
A veterinary pharmaceutical representative promotes and sells drugs to veterinarians. They typically have a bachelor’s degree in veterinary science or another related field. The average veterinary pharmaceutical representative makes about $50,000 annually, but salaries can range from $45,000 to over $55,000.
You’ll work in a hospital or clinic setting and collaborate with other veterinarians. Veterinary pharmaceutical representatives may promote and sell drugs to veterinarians, educate clients about new products, and provide customer service. They also may help develop new marketing strategies.
A typical day includes making sales calls, meeting with clients, and attending conferences.
27. Animal Geneticist
An animal geneticist studies the inheritance of physical and behavioral traits in animals. They typically have a bachelor’s degree in genetics or another related field. The average animal geneticist makes about $58,530 annually, but those in the top 10% of the field earn $113,430 on average.
You’ll work in a laboratory setting and collaborate with other scientists. Sometimes you’ll go out into the field to collect samples. Animal geneticists may study the effects of genes on animal health, behavior, and reproduction.
They also may help develop new ways to improve the quality of livestock. A typical day includes conducting experiments, analyzing data, and writing reports.
28. Animal Behaviorist
An animal behaviorist studies the behavior of animals. They typically have a bachelor’s degree in animal science or another related field. The average animal behaviorist makes between $40,000 and 60,000 annually.
Qualified individuals can easily make $90,000 yearly. You’ll work in a laboratory or field setting and collaborate with other scientists. Animal behaviorists may study the effects of environmental factors on animal behavior.
They also may help develop new methods to train or manage animals. A typical day includes conducting experiments, analyzing data, and writing reports.
29. Equine Dental Technician
An equine dental technician floats horses’ teeth, which means they file down the sharp points. They typically have a bachelor’s degree in veterinary science or another related field. A certificate is necessary, too.
The average equine dental technician makes $46,048 annually, but salaries can range from $19,000 to over $85,000. You’ll work in a hospital or clinic setting and collaborate with other veterinarians. Equine dental technicians may provide preventative care, diagnose oral problems, and float horses’ teeth.
They also may help educate the public about equine dental care. A typical day includes swimming horses’ teeth, consulting clients, and writing reports.
30. Horse Trainer
A horse trainer trains horses for racing, show jumping, and other competitions. They typically have a bachelor’s degree in equine science or another related field. The average horse’s trainer makes about $37,554 annually, but salaries exceed $46,812 per year depending on the stable.
You’ll work in a stable or arena setting and collaborate with other trainers. Sometimes you’ll travel to competitions. Horse trainers may train horses for racing, show jumping, and other competitions.
They also may help educate the public about horse care. A typical day includes exercising horses, consulting clients, and attending competitions.