Archives for July 2011

4 Tips for Animal Career Seekers

Once you begin reading different journals and articles you will begin to notice specific topics that interest you. Your next steps are to begin delving deeper into the topic, programs related to that topic, and what professionals are at the forefront of that topic.

There are four steps necessary to be successful in this effort. Before I get to those, I want to remind you of my own journey—I’ve done it.

When I began volunteering as a whale watch guide and marine naturalist, I met a variety of people and read not only journals, but books and magazines related to the topic. I also found out who the people were working in those fields I was interested in—originally this was marine mammals.

The difference between my efforts and those of others was that I did my homework. At one point, I attended a conference with top marine animal trainers and biologists from around the world. Instead of sight seeing, I hung around the panels and in the lobby of the hotel and soon was adopted into the professional groups.

One of the researchers decided to test everyone with models of the different whales—and wouldn’t you know, the one that stumped everyone was the one I knew—because all I had been doing was studying the different types of whales and their habits. It impressed everyone there.

My point is that I was able to make an impression on those who could help me with my career path. They took me seriously when they understood that I wasn’t one of the many people who “dream of an animal career” but rather one who was really working hard at learning and at making it happen.

So, here are four steps to get you started along the right path:

  1. Research your topic of interest. Remember, be specific as to what you are interested in doing and the species group that you have a passion or obsession. Have you asked the local librarian for assistance? Have you checked with a career counselor? Have you checked the public library, or the college career library? What is it that you cannot find in the library or in journals that you need to ask about? Is there a specific group or individual that is the best source to contact for more information?
  2. Research current programming available in your area of interest. Have you been able to find programs related to your interest? Where are they? What are admission requirements? How is their placement? What will it take financially and otherwise to participate? Are there career advisors at those locations that you could contact?
  3. Research the organizations in your areas of interest. How long have they been around? Do they have a mission statement? What are their goals? Who comprises the membership of the organization? How large is the membership? What do they do? What have they done? Do they have any publications they produce? Do they have regular or annual meetings?
  4. Research the people in that field. What is their area of interest? Where did they go to school? What work have they done? Are they published? How long have they been in the field? What else have they done? What could they specifically help you with that nobody else could? Are they the right contact person for you or is someone else better?

Once you have asked the above questions and answered them, you are ready to begin contacting some other sources for additional help. I’ll save this topic for another time. If you are interested in an animal career you should be on the animal careers email list!

Photo Credit: Tudor

Animal Careers Explores Falconry

Falconry is an ancient practice that began with the noble classes presumably in the first century or second century. The traditional lore is that the art began in central Asia, moved to the Middle East and then into Europe–but read this comprehensive summary from the International Association for Falconry & Conservation of Birds of Prey to get the scoop.

There are a handful of professional falconers who are paid to train and fly birds but there are also some opportunities at falconry centers, zoos, and the movie or television industry. A fairly recent income source is from the management of birds for airfields, businesses, or dump sites. Educational programs for various corporate groups or other demonstrations might also be an additional income source.

I may have said this before but I want to make a point here. One of the sad realities of the animal industry is that the popularity of a career with animals keeps the income levels down. There are more people who dream of working with animals than there are jobs. So, the abundance of people willing to work for free, or next to nothing, makes it easy to keep the wages low.

Animal care is costly and anyone who wants to work with birds of prey must apprentice and then provide adequate facilities for their birds when they get them. This sport is labor intensive, the laws are strict, and the birds need to be flown often.

Birds of prey need to be kept in top physical condition, the weight of any bird must be monitored closely, and they require specially built facilities. In addition, training and caring for a raptor requires a large investment of time and resources.

If that is not enough to dissuade most people, the licensing process weeds out those who are not serious about the profession/hobby. Most aspiring falconers must serve under an experienced falconer for a couple of years then there is a written test and a state inspection of the apprentice’s equipment and facility.

If you are interested in such a career the best thing to do is to visit facilities that conduct shows with birds of prey and to attend falconry meets and related events. Join some of the organizations such as the North American Falconers Association and talk to those active in it about the realities of the sport/profession/hobby.

You can find a nice list of resource links from American Falconry Magazine.

Photo Credit: Eric Charlton