How to Find Work With Animals
Working With Animals Is Fun and Rewarding, but It's Not For Everyone!
If you've always had a love and passion for animals, and hope to acquire a career working with them, you have chosen a field with infinite possibilities. Caring for them can be rewarding, fulfilling, and full of love. You will create everlasting bonds and experiences that you will remember for a lifetime.
However, be warned that these jobs are far from glamorous. You may come home exhausted, covered in urine, feces, maybe a bite, a scratch or two. Like people, animals have their bad days too; keep this in mind when handling them and be kind. Unfortunately, some people are extremely unkind in their frustration of what they thought would be a simple and easy job and exert that frustration onto the animal in question. Please make sure you are prepared for the hard and dirty days, and always be kind. More than likely they've been in a kennel or crate, are anxious and miss their owners, in an unfamiliar place and surrounded by strangers. Put yourself in their shoes, or paws rather.
Create an Excellent Resume
If you're like me, you might have grown up with pets but you may not have any experience on paper. This means that in the eyes of a potential employer you may not have the qualifications for the job. It's up to you to prove that you have what it takes, and your resume is your first impression.
Use whatever experience you do have. Have you done pet sitting for a friend or a neighbor? Have you tried volunteering a few hours a week or becoming actively involved with the SPCA, BARC, or any other animal welfare groups? Have you ever personally fostered a dog? All of these efforts put together can create very useful references! These are the people your employer will call to verify that you are suitable for the position, make sure you choose wisely.
If you know how to trim nails, bathe,clean ears, or any have any other valuable skills, don't leave them out. Anything that is relevant and useful should be used to be yourself up on a resume. Keep it basic and stick to the main points, show them all of your strengths.
Where Would Like To See Yourself Working?
Doggie Day Camp
Look For Work In Different Fields
When pursuing work with animals, it is very important to keep an open mind. Since I am attending school to become a Veterinarian, I assumed that a Veterinary office or emergency clinic would be the only opportunity available. So, for the first few months I had no success. After doing some research and looking around, I found several different fields of work.
- Boarding and Kennel Facilities: This is your best option if you have little to no experience with animals on paper. While you should definitely have some experience with animals, most of the time, from my experience, they will train newer employees on how to handle dogs and cats properly and safely. Generally, there will be several different positions that you will be able to work; your manager will place you where you fit best. In some cases, you can be cross-trained, so that you can be well-rounded in all areas. During your interview, be honest about where you feel most comfortable; the manager needs to know what your skills and strengths are.
- Become a Groomer or Bather: Other than taking formal Veterinary schooling, becoming a groomer can be a very lucrative and high paying job. Generally groomers are paid at an hourly base, and receive commission at most places. The best part of being a groomer is that once you have built clientel and a reputation, you may not need to work for a company because you can work for yourself. This profession gives you options, and most people would rather pay their groomer directly than go through a larger business. Keep in mind that you must also be skilled in handling people! Remember, they are paying good money and entrusting you with their beloved pet. They will have high expectations and may even nitpick at a dogs haircut or nails. Be sure you are the type of person who can diffuse any issues calmy, professionally, and with empathy.
- Work in retail: Places such as Petsmart and Petco are great to apply at if you have retail experience but no animal experience on paper. They're a little more forgiving with hiring as the majority of the time, depending on your position, you will be working with customers more than the animals themselves. However, getting ajob like this can be used as a rung on the step-ladder to where you reall want to be.
- Try Pet-Sitting and Dog Walking: Lastly, try working independently. You can try dog-sitting and dog walking around your neighborhood. If you're uncomfortable attempting to do this yourself, there are many websites such as DogVacay.com and and Rover.com that provide everything from scheduling to payment. Some of these websites may require that you take a background check; if pet-sitting you may be required to take photos of your home and send them in for approval. Be careful and make sure the site you use is trustworthy and won't steal your information. The two I have lsited above are both reputable and widely used.
- Rover.com: Book Dog Boarding, Dog Walking & More
Connect with 5-star sitters and dog walkers near you who offer dog boarding, dog walking, house sitting, or doggy day care. Book and pay securely.
Here's an example of what Doggy Day Care is like!
Obtain Necessary Certificates and Licensing
Some of the jobs I've listed above require State licensing or certification; most of the higher paying jobs will require you to be certified and usually you must pass a background check and a drug test.
Groomers and Bathers must be certified in order to work professionally. Usually, you can find a school in your area, the costs vary. The prices cover the classes, tools and materials, and your final exam.
Kennel Technicians usually do not require a license, but some facilities will offer you with a written and physical test. If you pass they will provide you with a certificate that says you are capable of handling animals properly. Before applying anywhere, try to get a CPR certification from Red Cross. They range from $25-$100 depending on how extensive your training is. You aren't required to have a CPR Certificate but it does show initiative and an eagerness to acquire the position.
Becoming a Veterinarian Technician or a Licensed Veterinarian requires formal schooling and training.
Keep Trying and Don't Give Up
It took three months and five interviews before I nailed down a job, five interviews. There were times I felt discouraged and thought maybe I should try a different line of work.
If you are truly passionate, and believe that you have a calling and a purpose, don't be afraid to grab the reigns and run with it. Finding work won't be easy, employers want to make sure they have good, genuine, trustworthy people handling their clients' pets. You have what it takes, just do your best and show them. If you get rejected or turned down, assess what could have been done differently and apply somewhere else. Good luck and happy hunting!