Animal Career Secrets: Should Career Seekers Specialize in a Specific Animal?

Animal Career Secrets answers the question about whether or not specializing in a particular animal is a good idea when seeking a career with animals. All content copyrighted 2007 by Diana L Guerrero. Some rights reserved.

Many people think they should focus their animal career interest to one type of animal. Personally, I think this is a mistake. You’d be more vulnerable to industry changes and find fewer jobs you could qualify for.

Animal groups of interest would be a better choice. Wanting to work with tigers is not as sound as working with large wild cats. Selecting lemurs is perhaps a better choice but focusing on primate would allow you to have more animal career job options.

Once you have narrowed down what type of animals you are interested in, you should then begin to look at what specific area of interest you have in working with them. If you are interested in domestic animal care-taking, for instance, then you should consider such things as pet-sitting, humane society work, kennel attendant, or something related.

If you like the scientific side of things, you could get more into the medical area, and could consider studying to become a veterinarian, veterinary technician, laboratory technician, biologist, genetics specialist or something along those lines.

In the psychology realm, you could consider becoming an animal trainer, animal behavior consultant, or animal psychologist. There are also opportunities for studies on the human and animal bond from within the animal welfare area, and a variety of other types of work with therapy animals and related research from the clinical realm.

If you are interested in wild or exotic animal work, it gets more complicated. You need to ask the same questions as above, and decide where you want to ultimately be in your own country or another one? If you pick a foreign country, you will need to know what the culture is like, what languages are used, and what the political complications may be.

After you have decided what animals or species you are interested in, ask yourself if it is a realistic goal. Carefully review or list those animals that most attract you. Do you want to work with captive animals or wild animals? Any particular species? Marine mammals, terrestrial animals, or do you care? Where will you be in ten years if you are in that work? Do you want indoor or outdoor work?

You will need to really get a good feel about this to see if it is the right area for you, and what you will want to do for a career. For instance, many careers with animals do not pay well. If that is a concern, could you do animal work part-time? What about just helping from a volunteer or docent position? Once you narrow down what kind of work you are interested in and in what capacity, there are a few steps you can take.

One of the first things to do is to start reading related publications; this can be professional journals, books on the subject, and company or organizational reports. Many times your local public library or college/university library will have some of these specialty works. If not, check to see if some of your local professionals will refer you to a professional library source, or perhaps let you look at some of their personal subscriptions. I’ll get into this a little more in my next post.

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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