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Finding Dog-Related Careers

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We’re very lucky to have a career that involves dogs and frequently we’re asked by other dog lovers how to break into the field. For those that don’t want a career in writing, though, there are still many options when it comes to making a living in a dog-related field. Today we have a guest post from Brendan Cruickshank, a jobs expert, about several careers with canines.

5 Careers That Dog Lovers Haven’t Considered

Lately, for some reason, I have run into quite a few dog lovers who are also looking for work. I always tell people to focus on looking for employment that they can be passionate about – work that harnesses their interest in something special. That’s the kind of job, even if it doesn’t offer such a lucrative salary and benefits as other kinds of work, that can make it easy to get up in the morning and can make the end of the weekend feel like less of a tragedy. But when I talk to animal lovers, often they laugh at me.

What kind of work do I think they can find that focuses on their special passion?

Well, dog lovers, I have been doing my research and I think I’ve found your niche – five of them, in fact. These are all positions that you can consider without a college diploma, as long as you become certified and/or take the time to get some on-the-job experience. Don’t shy away from an unpaid internship or volunteer position, if it gives you the opportunity you need to train for the job you crave.

  1. Dog photographer. Photography involves much more than the ability to handle a camera and lighting – it requires a person to be personable and charming, a person who can make people feel natural in what is often an unnatural situation. It may surprise you to learn that dogs, like people, often feel uncomfortable posing for photos – yet we often need them to do just that. Dogs are needed to model in advertisements and commercials, and for newspaper and magazine feature articles. Some dog owners also like to bring their dogs to a photographer periodically for a family picture that includes the whole family – human and nonhuman members. It takes a sense of humor and a large dose of patients to photograph animals, but if you are up to the challenge, this may be the perfect job for you.
  2. Animal control officer. This job is at the top of almost nobody’s list. The thought of having to capture stray animals and bring them to a shelter can be heartbreaking for almost any animal lover. But it is important that people in these positions be animal lovers and that they possess an unusual degree of patience, sensitivity, and compassion. In addition, this kind of work puts you in a position to help enforce local laws regarding humane animal care – a subject that many dog lovers care about passionately. For this job, you will also need a driver’s license, a clean driving record, and the ability to work or be on call at unusual hours. You will also probably need to be certified by your state, and you may need to obtain special certifications in topics such as first aid for animals, CPR, large-animal capture, evaluating animal behavior, chemical immobilization, and, sadly, euthanasia.
  3. Dog trainer. As a dog trainer, you can work with dogs to train them for service positions, such as working with a police canine unit or helping a person with a disability. Like the job of animal control officer, this one will probably require certification, and extensive on-the-job training. Often community colleges and vocational schools offer certification courses for dog trainers, but if you are having trouble finding a course, check with your local humane society. You should probably take some business courses as well, as many dog trainers end up starting their own businesses.
  4. Animal-assisted therapy team member. Dogs and other animals are increasingly being used as part of the recovery process for humans who have been through traumatic experiences or who are convalescing in environments that give them little opportunity to get out into the community. Animal-assisted therapy teams visit hospitals, nursing homes, mental health centers, and other long-term care facilities. In addition, many libraries now offer literacy programs in which children practice reading by reading aloud to a service dog. If you and your dog would like to become a therapy team, you can become certified through a program offered by the American Humane Association. Your dog will have to pass an animal health screening as well. You may have to get quite a bit of practice working as a therapy team on a volunteer basis before you can find a paid position, however.
  5. Humane Society staff member. If you want to advocate on behalf of the humane treatment of dogs and other animals, you may want to consider looking for a job at your local humane society or animal shelter. Some of these positions involve working directly with animals, while others require administrative or editorial skills. If you have a college degree and some experience working with political organizations, you may even want to consider looking for work as a lobbyist on behalf of animal rights.

There are many other jobs you could consider going into, depending on your personal background, of course. You could become a veterinary assistant or veterinarian (if it’s an option for you to spend time and money going to school first), or you could get involved in animal grooming, kenneling, or dog sitting. You could start your own business in any of those fields. If working in an animal-centered field is what you want to do, my advice is to go for it. Look realistically at the options in your community – and if you need to, consider moving to a different community where you can find the job of your dreams. Don’t settle for anything less.

About the Author: Brendan Cruickshank has worked in the online job search and recruiting industry for the past 8 years. Having served in senior client services roles with companies including and, he has offered his insight on topics in employment and jobs trends to the Washington Post, Forbes and The Wall Street Journal, among others.

Paris Permenter
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