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How to Build a Career Working with Animals

pet care careers

Do you dream of a career filled with furry (or feathery, or scaly) friends? The pet care industry offers a variety of fulfilling opportunities for those who love animals. If you’re interested in working alongside pets, here’s a breakdown of two popular pet care professions: dog groomer and veterinary assistant.

Pet Groomer: The Stylist for Our Canine Companions

  • Job Description: Pet groomers keep pups and kittens looking and feeling their best. They bathe, brush, clip, and style fur, ensuring hygiene and preventing matting. Some groomers specialize in breed-specific cuts or offer additional services like nail trimming and ear cleaning.
  • Skills Needed: Patience and a gentle touch are essential to handle a variety of dog breeds and temperaments. An eye for detail and a creative flair come in handy for achieving specific styles. Additionally, groomers should be physically fit to stand for long periods and handle sometimes energetic dogs.
  • Education and Training: While formal training isn’t always mandatory, many employers prefer candidates with certifications or diplomas from pet grooming schools. These programs provide hands-on experience and teach proper grooming techniques, pet handling, and animal safety.
  • How much does a dog groomer earn?
    According to, the average dog groomer salary in the United States is around $37,701 per year. However, this can vary depending on experience, location, and the type of grooming services offered. Entry-level groomers might start lower, while experienced groomers or those specializing in show dog grooming can earn significantly more

Veterinary Assistant: Supporting the Animal Healthcare Team

  • Job Description: Veterinary assistants are the backbone of veterinary clinics and hospitals. They assist veterinarians in various tasks, including taking medical histories, restraining animals during examinations, preparing medications, and cleaning treatment areas. They may also perform minor procedures under veterinary supervision.
  • Skills Needed: Veterinary assistants need excellent communication skills to interact with pet owners and document medical information. Compassion and a calm demeanor are crucial for handling anxious animals. Additionally, organization and attention to detail are essential to ensure smooth clinic operations.
  • Education and Training: While a high school diploma is the minimum requirement, many employers prefer candidates with certifications from veterinary assistant programs. These programs provide classroom instruction and clinical experience, preparing graduates for the fast-paced veterinary environment.
  • How much does a Veterinary Assistant earn?
    The national average salary for veterinary assistants in the US is reported to be around $34,210 per year, based on data from Similar to dog grooming, factors like experience, certifications, and location can influence earnings.

Beyond the Basics: Traits for Success in Pet Care

  • Love for Animals: This might seem obvious, but a genuine passion for animal welfare is essential. You’ll be working with creatures who can’t communicate their needs verbally, so understanding and respecting animal behavior is key.
  • Physical Stamina: Pet care jobs often involve long hours on your feet, lifting supplies, and restraining animals. Physical fitness and endurance will help you manage the demands of the job.
  • Problem-Solving Skills: From dealing with anxious animals to unexpected situations, the ability to think on your feet and adapt to challenges is important.

How Much Do Jobs in Animal Care Pay?