Animal Career Secrets Explores Education Requirements & Salary Ranges

In this post at Animal Career Secrets get answers to some commonly asked questions about preparing for a career with animals. All content copyrighted 2007 by Diana L Guerrero. Some rights reserved.

There are always more questions to answer regarding how to prepare for a career with animals. One submitted question concerns education—just what is the difference between certifications and a degree, and what type of salary can be expected?

First a certificate is something you earn by completing a specific set of course work. Private programs often give them out and accredited colleges will also give them if you complete just the required courses within a certain program or major.

When students complete the required courses in the program and also any other general or special education requirements of the college, then they usually earn a specific degree. In today’s world it is best to at least earn a bachelors degree to remain competitive and you’ll need to make sure that your credits will transfer to the high institution if you plan on continuing. Just what degree will be the best for you may vary depending on the industry—but we can get into that in more depth later.

The tragedy of working in the animal field is that the salary is often pretty low. Here is how it works—the number of people seeking an animal career position is always high. Due to the demand, lower salaries are accepted—so the wages remain low. I remember one facility that still had the $7 per hour starting wage for over twenty years!

So just what type of salary you earn will depend on your experience, education, and the type of job you are seeking. In some cases you might luck out and land a position that is managed by a union—otherwise the results vary.

Estimates for starting salaries range from the upper teens into the mid twenties ($18,000- $24,000) per year according to one animal college program. Some companies may have starting wages on an hourly basis from $8.00 – $17.00 per hour.

So, most people are in the industry because of their love for animals—not for the money. It is great to find a balance. I remember being with the top primatologists in the field when one famous researcher said he envied me—I couldn’t believe it as he was working with some rare animals. His point was that I had the potential to make better money than he could—and he was tired of endlessly seeking grants to continue his work–a stressful endeavor as his projects could have ended at any time due to lack of funding!

There are some people who make $50,000 or more per year. Probably the largest growing area of the animal industry is the pet field because people’s pets have become furry family members and are treated like children. This will create a big demand for services.

I want to talk about a misconception rampant among those who want to work with animals—but it is time to log off so I will save that for another time.

Diana L Guerrero is an animal career specialist and has extensive experience in many areas of the animal world. A well known animal expert, she has worked professionally with animals for over thirty years. Guerrero is the author of several books and the host of the syndicated, Ark Animal Answers.

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