24 Exciting Jobs & Career Paths for Dog Lovers

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career pathThere’s nothing quite as rewarding as coming home from work to find your dog waiting for you. A big smile, wagging tail, and boundless excitement…what could be better than that?

Well, how about spending all day surrounded by dogs — and getting paid for it? It’s possible if you manage to snag one of the jobs on this list.

Below, you’ll find 24 of the best jobs on the market for dog lovers. These occupations are fun, rewarding, sometimes lucrative, and they’re perfect for anyone who enjoys the company of canines.

The only downside is explaining to your dog that you’re cheating on him at work.

1. Veterinarian

What could be more rewarding than taking dogs that aren’t feeling well and making their tails wag again? This is one of the higher-paying jobs on this list, but you’ll earn every penny — it can take 8 years or more of strenuous schooling to become a vet.

Also, don’t overlook the downsides of the job either. Can you handle knowing that you can’t save every dog that comes your way?

2. Vet Tech

If you don’t want to spend that much time in school (but you still want to help sick pets), then being a vet tech might be right up your alley.

It doesn’t pay as much as being a veterinarian, and you still have to deal with some of the same downsides that vets do, but it only takes 2-4 years of schooling to get a job in this field.

3. Veterinary Dentist

Bad teeth and gums are a major (and seemingly ubiquitous) health problem for dogs, so veterinary dentists are in high demand. They can make as much as regular vets, and they often get to sidestep some of the more heartbreaking elements of that job.

The educational requirements are just as daunting, though, so plan to block off nearly a decade of your life for training.

4. Animal Nutritionist

Many animal nutritionists work with animals in captivity, such as exotic species at zoos or those raised for human consumption. However, pet owners are becoming more willing to hire nutritionists to ensure their dogs are getting the support they need, especially if their pups suffer from some sort of disease.

This job requires almost as much schooling as becoming a vet, and it may be hard to break into. However, it can be lucrative and fulfilling once you establish yourself.

5. Dog Walker

Being a dog walker may not be much of a career path (unless you start your own business), but it’s a great way to make a little extra money while getting some exercise and spending time with a variety of pooches.

It’s also a fantastic job for those pursuing other career paths, like actors and musicians, as it provides reliable work and a flexible schedule.

6. Dog Trainer

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Do you have a knack for getting big, dumb animals to do exactly what you want them to? Then consider a career in politics. However, if you can teach dogs how to behave, becoming a dog trainer might be perfect for you.

You don’t necessarily need any extra education to begin, but there are plenty of schools and licensing options to learn the ins-and-outs of the job. Keep in mind that success in this profession ultimately comes down to marketing skills as much as training ability, though.

7. Animal Behaviorist

Behaviorists are like high-falutin’ dog trainers, in that they work with owners to eliminate problematic behaviors in their pets. However, behaviorists tend to get extreme cases, and are often called in after trainers failed.

The fun thing about this job is it lets you spend time with dogs while also applying psychological concepts and even a little bit of detective work. The downside is that you’ll likely find that the animal whose behavior most needs correcting is the owner.

8. Dog Breeder

This requires working for yourself rather than someone else, and while there aren’t any educational barriers to entry, you’d be well-advised to treat it as a hobby that might one day prove to be lucrative. Many breeders never turn a profit, so be sure you’re in it for the love of the animals rather than the almighty dollar.

However, if you’re passionate about a particular breed, becoming a breeder is a great way to ensure its long-term health. One other benefit? Puppies. Lots of puppies.

9. Search-and-Rescue Worker

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Many search-and-rescue workers pair up with specially-trained dogs to help locate disaster victims. This job can be unbelievably rewarding — but it can also be emotionally devastating, so it’s not for the faint of heart.

It’s incredibly strenuous as well, so be sure you’re up to the physical rigors of the job before signing up.

10. Canine Photographer

Having a specialty is a great way to succeed as a freelancer, and what could be more fun than being a doggy photographer? You can combine a passion for dogs with one for photography, leading to a remarkably fulfilling career.

Of course, it can take years to become established, so don’t treat this like a get-rich-quick scheme.

11. Pet Artist

If you prefer to work with paint and canvas instead of shutter and lens, painting pet portraits might be the way to go. This is especially true in a world where everyone has an Instagram full of pictures of their dog, but few people have an honest-to-God portrait hanging in their living rooms.

You can also hawk your wares on the internet, so you can work right out of your home. Like with being a dog trainer, though, your odds of success will be directly tied to your ability to market yourself.

12. Dogsitter

If you don’t mind spending the night in other people’s homes, being a dogsitter is a great way to earn some extra cash while babysitting pampered pooches. You can even combine it with a day job to get the best of both worlds.

However, spending all that time in other people’s houses means you won’t spend that much in your own, so you likely won’t be able to have a pup yourself.

13. Animal Rights Lawyer

While this career path may not bring you into contact with many actual dogs, it’s one of the best ways to look after their best interests. You can fight for legislative victories that will positively impact pups all over the country.

This career requires going to law school, of course, as well as demanding long hours once you actually have the job. The upside is it’s one of the best-paying occupations on this list.

14. Animal Cruelty Investigator

This is another job where your love of dogs has to be matched by your ability to see them in the worst possible conditions. You’ll regularly get your heart broken in this job, but you’ll also regularly rescue precious dogs from horrific monsters.

This job requires a degree in either criminal science or an animal-science related field. It also helps to have experience as a vet tech, trainer, or animal control officer.

15. K9 Police Officer

If you grew up playing cops and robbers with your trusty dog by your side, you can relive your glory days by becoming a K9 cop. This lets you do some good in your community while driving around with the cutest police officer on the force in your backseat.

Of course, it’s also dangerous and requires a criminal justice degree. But again: it comes with a free dog.

16. Animal Control Worker

While this may feel like being a cop who arrests dogs, animal control workers are essential for the humane treatment of strays. After all, it’s much better for a dog to be safely rounded up and taken to a (hopefully no-kill) shelter than it is for the pooch to risk its life on the street.

Plus, the feeling you get from reuniting a family with a lost dog is indescribable.

17. Groomer

Like dog walking, being a groomer isn’t necessarily a good long-term career plan unless you own your own shop. If you want a fun job that lets you get up close and personal with dogs, though, it’s hard to beat.

Of course, the bad days you have as a groomer will likely be really bad, as they can include getting bitten or scratched, and you may just come home with fleas. At least this time you’ll have an excuse, though.

18. Doggie Day Care Worker

Imagine getting paid to sit around a dog park and watch puppies play with each other all day. As a doggie day care worker, that’s essentially your job.

It’s not all wagging tails and happy smiles, though, as the occasional fight can break out (and you’ll be expected to break it up). You’ll also spend a lot of time picking up dog poop.

19. Dog Show Handler

While this may seem like an incredibly easy job — all you have to do is jog in a circle when your dog’s name is called, right? — there’s actually a lot more to it than meets the eye.

You’ll need to become a walking encyclopedia of breed standards, and breaking in takes lots of time and dedication. There’s a ton of travel required, too, and you’ll need to be an expert in a lot of related areas, like training, grooming, and posing.

20. Animal Chiropractor

Animal chiropractors have to undergo the same amount of training and education as human chiropractors do, and sometimes more. It’s all worth it if you can help a pooch in pain, however.

Most people don’t know that animal chiropractors exist, though, so you may find a limited market for your services in all but a few places.

21. Bomb-Sniffing Dog Handler

If you want to save lives with a dog by your side, being a bomb-sniffing dog handler offers many of the same perks as being a K9 cop, with less educational requirements.

In most cases, you won’t be training the dog yourself — just leading him on patrols. And with the emphasis on heightened security in most public places, this job could be quite in-demand soon. Then again, this is one profession where you pray that business will never be booming (sorry).

22. Therapy Dog Handler

As we learn more and more about the benefits of therapy animals, therapy dog handlers are likely to become more commonplace. It’s hard to imagine a more heart-warming profession, as in addition to handling a dog, you get to watch that dog put smiles on the faces of people who really need some stress relief.

Of course, that means you’ll experience some sad situations, but at least you can take solace in the fact that you were able to make someone’s day brighter for a few moments at least.

23. Dog Fashion Designer

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Pet clothes are big business nowadays, and doggie fashion designers are almost as in-demand as those who work for people. You’ll likely need a fashion degree, but you can make quite a bit of money at this job.

However, you have to make peace with the fact that the clothes you make will almost certainly get pooped on at some point.

24. Software Engineer

Stay with us for a second on this one. While software engineers don’t interact with dogs as a requirement for their profession, many tech firms are so desperate to attract talent that dog-friendly workplaces are becoming the norm.

Becoming a software engineer can be extremely lucrative, and you may be able to land a job that lets you spend all day with the most important mutt of all: your own.

What Job Suits You?

The jobs above are all great ways to earn a living while spending time in the company of dogs. They’re also wide-ranging enough that you can almost certainly find one that suits your skills and temperament, so you can find a position that’s perfect for you.

However, keep in mind that sometimes the best way to help animals is simply to adopt one. If the dog-related occupations above don’t appeal to you, that’s fine — find something that does, and spend your time off the clock pampering your own pet.

And remember — the more money you make, the more treats and toys you can afford.

Featured Image Credit: MarioEppinger, Pixabay