Veterinary and Animal Related Careers


Animal Related Careers:


Animal Behavioral Trainer

What they do: Teach animals how to act in response to different conditions or stimuli. Training is conducted for entertainment, protection, detection or companionship.

What they earn: $36,000 is the median salary with one to four years of experience.*

Animal Caretaker

What they do: Assist in grooming, training and companionship for animals staying in pet spas, kennels and similar temporary locations.

What they earn: A median salary of $30,000 when working for a company.

Marine Biologist

What they do: Study and interact closely with the lives of species that spend all or most of their lives in water.

What they earn: $45,000 is the median salary.

Park Manager or Ranger

What they do: Oversee daily park maintenance and operations. They are in charge of preserving and protecting wilderness areas.

What they earn: $40,000 is the median salary for state and local government positions.

Science Teacher

What they do: Educate students on the methods of observation, experimentation and study of different topics in science, including animal life.

What they earn: A median salary between $41,400 and $45,920.

Animal Groomer

What they do: Maintain the appearance and hygiene of animals.

What they earn: A median salary of $30,000 when working for a company.

Veterinary Pathologist

What they do: Study the scientific causes, development and results of diseases in animals.

What they earn: A median salary between $120,000 and $160,000 for industry work.

Animal Welfare Lawyer

What they do: Practice law with special focus on how it deals with animals. Cases can range from veterinary malpractice to anti-cruelty issues.

What they earn: The median annual earnings of all lawyers are $94,930.

Zoo Director, Zoo keeper

What they do: Organize and direct zoo operations. This position includes everything from analyzing the annual budget to organizing the special care of animals.

What they earn: The average starting salary for zoologists is $28,000, increasing to $36,000 after five years.

Animal Assisted Therapist

What they do: Study behavioral patterns in animals and apply techniques to improve mental, social and physical issues within humans through animal/human companionship.

What they earn: Median annual earnings of physical therapists are $60,180, but the concentration of animal-assistance may increase or decrease earnings. Some animal-assisted therapy is considered volunteer work.


Are Grades Important?

Q: Hello my name is Martina Wilkerson and I'm a junior at Butler High School, I have always wanted to work with animals, I have never changed my mind about what I wanted to do, Iam not sure if I want to be a vet but I know I want to be working around animals.. but now that I read all this stuff about having to have this 3.5 grade point and I'am getting scared because I'm not good in school and I don't have that so now it seems to me that I'am looking at not being able to do my dream.... Do you know of anything that I can do???? Do have any suggestion on any other thing dealing with animals that I will be able to do??? Thank You very much for your time and any help you can give would be great.. I just want to beable to live my dream

Thank You

A: Martina-

Some students do get into veterinary school with grade points lower than 3.5. In most cases, though, this takes persistence because it is necessary to apply to veterinary school two or more times to get in. It is unusual for students with grade points less then 3.0 to get accepted but I know that one of my classmates had a grade point prior to veterinary school in the 2.9 region.

If you do not think that you can maintain a grade point in this range in pre-veterinary courses in college, you would probably be better choosing a different career dealing with animals. There are lots of other possibilities, depending on how much schooling you want to take and what types of animals you want to work with.

One option that can be satisfying for someone who really wants to be involved in veterinary medicine is to become a certified (licensed) veterinary technician. There are accredited schools for this career in every state. Certified veterinary technicians perform many lab procedures, aid in physical examination and restraint of pets during veterinary visits, perform dental cleaning procedures, help with surgeries, monitor anesthesia and do many other things that people often think of a the veterinarian's job. The college courses for this career usually take two to four years (depends on the college). There is a shortage of veterinary technicians at the present time and many programs are expanding, making it easier for more people to attend school.

I have clients who are professional groomers, professional pet sitters (full time -- this is now a career for many people), dog trainers and even a client who manufacturers dog toys and dog treats --- so there are lots of alternatives for careers with animals other than veterinary medicine.

I know several veterinarians who struggled in high school but who did much better in college for various reasons, including one who simply took a course on how to study more effectively and found that the course really helped her --- enough that her grades improved dramatically. So you might not want to give up, just yet.

Mike Richards, DVM

Tips for Making It into Vet School

Q: Hi, my name is Philip and I would like to be a vet. I am currently 16 years old, and would be grateful for any information whatsoever with regards to becoming a vet.
Many thanks, Philip

A: Philip-This is my best advice on making it into vet school:

1) Volunteer at a veterinary hospital or talk your vet into letting you hang around the hospital some. It is usually easier to get an idea of whether or not you will like veterinary medicine by watching a vet throughout a day rather than working for one - but both things are helpful.

2) Find out if there is a veterinary school in your state. If not, find out what veterinary school your state has contracts with for accepting students. In the rare instance you live in a state without a vet school and without contracted slots in another state's school figure out how to become a resident of state with a vet school after you graduate from high school.

3) Learn math. Learn chemistry. Learn them in high school if at all possible so that you can compete effectively for veterinary school admission.

4) Talk to recent graduates or students at the vet school you have the best chance of attending and find out what worked for them.

Good luck!
Mike Richards, DVM

Admission Requirements

Q: Hello Dr. Mike,
         I just wanted to ask you a few question to clear up my situation. I am currently a senior at Troy State University and I'm graduating this quarter with an biology degree.  I've decided that i really would like to pursue vet school at Auburn University but i have a little problem.  My problem is getting my GPA up to standards because i had a little to much fun my first two years of college and I'm still trying to recover from it.  I have a 2.5 overall now and I'm looking to improve it.  Is there any hope for me in getting excepted to vet school?  My next question envolves my degree and becoming excepted into vet school.  Do they look at your course of study or do you have to go through there pre-vet core?  My last question, if i can work at a vet clinic while i'm attending school would that increase my odds of gettingexcepted?

Thanks,  John

A: John-

I know veterinarians who entered veterinary school with gradepoints in the 3.0 range (most schools have a minimum grade point) which was the minimum for Iowa State, if I remember correctly. My wife had a 2.0 or so grade point after her sophomore year in undergraduate studies and worked hard to bring that up into the 3.1 range which was sufficient to get into vet school at the Virginia Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (but she had nearly a 4.0 for 2+ years of study after those first two years). Most veterinary schools respond well to persistence up to a point. If you are willing to apply three or four times and meet the minimum requirements you stand at least a chance of getting into school.

It usually doesn't matter if you took pre-vet as long as you meet the course requirements. In a situation with two identical applicants they might favor the one who did go through a pre-vet curriculum just because it is assumed they were competing with a more competitive group of students in their courses.

Working at a veterinary clinic does help. Volunteering or observing at a clinic is a better way to get an overall feel for the profession but you have to keep track of the hours you put in and make sure someone mentions it in a letter of recommendation.

Good luck with this.

Mike Richards, DVM

Class Resources

Q: Hello there and greetings from MT!! I am starting a new class called Vet. Tech. at our high school career center. This is a place for motivated and career oriented students to get a head start finding out about careers that might interest them. They study anatomy and diseases and work four hours a week in a veterinary clinic. I am hoping that you could offer some resources that my class could utilize or some ideas that would make this class even more beneficial... I thank you for you speedy response!! Andrea

A: Andrea- Since you are using AOL you might want to check out the Pet care Forum (keyword: pets) and the message boards for people with animal related careers and the "Veterinary Hospital" section. In this latter section there is a message board folder for people seeking information on a career in veterinary medicine that may contain additional information you might find useful.

There are a lot of veterinary schools with webpages (you can find links to them through the NetVet and Zac's links on our linkpages).

There are several books on veterinary medicine as a career that your librarian may be able to find for you. I am sorry but I can't remember the titles to them offhand. I will try to remember to look them up.

Mike Richards, DVM

Getting into The Veterinary Field

Q:      I do have a question.  I am trying desperately to get into the veterinary field.  I am applying for positions such as; receptionist, technician assistant, kennel  cleaner...ANYTHING.  I cannot even seem to get an interview.  Do you have any suggestions??
  Thanks for the time and once again I really enjoy your web site!


A: Hi Samantha,

Are you submitting a professional looking resume? Are you going in to offices looking neat and presentable?
If you just calling around..stop that and start dropping in and dropping off your resume- but don't do it first thing in the morning or late in the day..very busy times for vets.

Hope that helps..



In addition to the suggestions which Michal has already given you, it can often help to offer to volunteer at a veterinary hospital. This is how Michal became our receptionist. She volunteered to work at the hospital and showed us how willing she was to work to be part of team. I was so impressed that I added hours to our hospital schedule so that I could hire her before she got away.

Mike Richards, DVM
Last edited 02/15/08


Michael Richards, D.V.M. co-owns a small animal general veterinary practice in rural tidewater Virginia. Dr. Richards graduated from Iowa State University's College of Veterinary Medicine in 1979, and has been in private practice ever since. Dr. Richards has been the director of the PetCare Forum...