Animal Care Careers

Relative Skills and Interests: Strong animal handling skills, communication skills, a love for working with animals, ability to multi-task and potentially manage large numbers of animals each day, (in some cases) an understanding of business and marketing, (in some cases) physical fitness and skills with the “tools of the trade”

Position: Dog Walker/Pet Sitter

Job Description: Dog walkers and pet sitters often care for other people’s animals in the animal’s home.  Dog walkers have become more popular as those with dogs work longer days.  Pet sitters may be a slightly more expensive option, but they offer more individualized attention than does a boarding kennel, and the animal can stay in the comfort of its own home.

Opportunities: Some dog walkers and pet sitters work for a company or cooperative, but most work independently.  This job is needed anywhere there are pets and people with busy schedules.

Education and Training Needed: To become a dog walker or pet sitter, one must have experience and skill working with domestic animals, and be able to provide references to clients.  Experience is more valuable than education in this field.


Position: Boarding Facility Staff

Job Description: The staff at boarding facilities and kennels manage and care for animals in a non-home setting for short periods of time while their guardians are unavailable to care for their animals (on vacation, for example).  Some boarding facilities house a variety of animals, while some are restricted to dogs or dogs and cats.  Each boarding facility is a little bit different: some offer large rooms for dogs who are walked several times a day, some are equipped simple indoor/outdoor runs and offer less interaction with the staff.  The best boarding kennels are those that replicate the animals’ home environment as closely as possible.

Opportunities: Many larger cities and towns have at least a few boarding facilities. Often, veterinarians in smaller towns are available to board their patients.  Many pet guardians bring their animals, primarily dogs, to a “Doggy Day Care” if they have long work days.  Many “Doggy Day Care” facilities also have play groups and other socialization opportunities for dogs.

Education and Training Needed: To work at a boarding facility, one must have experience and skill working with domestic animals.  It is also helpful to have some dog training experience.  Experience is more valuable than education in this field. To start a boarding facility, one must have a strong business sense and marketing skills.  Special permits are required to operate a kennel.


Position: Groomer

Job Description: Groomers help maintain pet health by brushing and bathing animals, most frequently dogs, as well as trimming their nails, brushing their teeth, and clipping their fur.  Groomers also have an opportunity to counsel pet owners about the importance of grooming and its relevance to overall pet health.

Opportunities: Some grooming businesses network with area veterinarians, but otherwise focus solely on grooming.  Other groomers may work within another business, like a pet supply store. Some professionals in the grooming field may have specialized jobs, like shearing sheep (shave them so that they are cooler during the summer months).

Education and Training Needed: Groomers must have experience handling a variety of animals, and some have certification that allows them to sedate more fractious animals.


Position: Farrier

Job Description: Farriers are blacksmiths who put shoes on horses and help maintain their hoof health.

Opportunities: Anyone who has a horse should have a relationship with a reliable large animal veterinarian and a farrier.  Many farriers work independently, though some may work within a larger co-op.  Farriers travel for work, attending to their clients at their own locations.

Education and Training Needed: This job has become less popular over the last 75 years, as people rely less and less on large animals for transportation.  There is still a need for these professionals, however, for working horses, sport horses, and pet horses.  Most farriers learn the trade as apprentices from other farriers.


Position: Stable Manager

Job Description: Stable managers are individuals who manage barns, stables, and horse stalls.  They oversee an animal care staff and usually are in charge of administrative tasks, like bookkeeping, schedules, and working with clients.

Opportunities: Private stables, Humane societies,

Education and Training Needed: They need knowledge of horses, and benefit from managerial training, as they generally also work with people and are in charge of many tasks.


Position: Pet Supplies Retailer

Job Description: Pet supplies retailers own or manage retail businesses that sell pet care products.  Most retailers buy products, market them, and network with local veterinarians and other animal-related organizations to advertise and build community support.

Opportunities: Ideally, pet supplies retailers sell pet supplies only: food, dishes, toys, beds, grooming supplies, leashes and collars, and other products, rather than pets themselves.

Education and Training Needed: They need an understanding of the basic needs of many domestic animals, as well as experience in retail or training in business and finance.

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