Animal Career Dreams?

animal career applicants must have a clue to get an animal job

Since I’ve been planning a surprise product for those of you who have animal career dreams, I thought I might rant explore this topic a bit.

As I’ve been working on these projects I’ve been reflecting over trends and experiences through my years as an animal career coach.

Do you have animal career dreams?

Then I have two words for you, “Wake up!”

Dreams do nothing for you without action. It is a real world that requires real effort.

You don’t just get handed an animal career–you have to earn it.

Now there are those of you who are really interested in a career with animals, right?

What are you doing about it?

I get questions all the time asking about animal careers and I have to tell you, many of them I already answered on the blog or the web series I wrote, called Unusual Animal Careers.

What amazes me is that the majority of people are just dreaming about it.

What do I mean by that?

Take the statistics for the Unusual Animal Career series, most people never read past the first part of the series.

I find that both funny and sad because I put insider information in the series for those who seriously want a career with animals.

When I held seminars and weekend events (which I am going to offer again) very few people had the burning desire for a real animal career.

Instead, they were intrigued by the romance of the idea.

But I remember at one of the weekend intensives, there was a star in the group.

She ate, breathed, studied, and worked on her dream of a career with animals.

We animal professionals love that–so do the animal facilities that are hiring.

When she got licked by a leopard that weekend, it was like she won the lottery.

I’ve lost touch with her since that time but last I heard she was working in a California Zoo fulfilling her lifelong dream–and I’ll never forget that look of joy and pure bliss in her demeanor.

Priceless…and is one of the reasons I do what I do.

Now there are also people who I’ve coached solely by phone, but who have taken my advice and found themselves in an animal career because of it.

Then there are the ones who want a career with animals handed to them–they don’t want to work for it and actually have “insert (relative, friend, teacher)” contact people (like me) for information about animal careers or a jobย  with animals.

I have news for you, when you are too lazy (or whatever) to take action yourself, when you don’t follow up, or you are simply rude, then you get tossed into the round file and get on the blacklist.

The animal industry is a small world and what you do and how you do it is what telegraphs your intent and reflects how you will be out in the real animal job world.

The first time I encountered a badly behaved animal career seeker was via the phone.

The young whipper-snapper booked a phone consultation.

Now today I fire clients–end of story. If it happened again I’d just terminate the call, but at the time I always worked hard to help my clients achieve their goals and their dreams.

One of the things I still don’t get is why people hire professionals and then don’t listen to them or let them do their job.

She didn’t want to hear what I had to say and got very pushy–demanding I turn over the insider information I was going to provide.

At first I was taken aback because after 30 plus years, I have something to share and a method to how I convey that information so it gives people the biggest bang for their buck.

Then, I just moved forward and terminated the call right on the button. No extra time or advice for that one and none of the really meaty info that could have been valuable.

Now you might think that this was a rare incident, and it was.

But it was the first inkling of a trend I’ve been seeing for some time.

There are more and more people who think they deserve something just because…

Okay, this is the real world and this is not true, to EARN an animal career you have to be above and beyond the norm, be willing to learn, work hard, and then continue when it seems really, really difficult.

Only then can you earn the purr of a mountain lion, the greeting of an elephant, the mental challenge of a marine mammal, or the nuzzle of a dog.

Okay, enough ranting for today. I want to know what kind of animal career you want and what exactly you have been doing to earn one.

Leave your comment below.

About Ark Lady

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  1. I graduated in December 2008 with a bachelors in Animal Sciences. I have a decent animal background for someone my age. I have worked in the shelter system for several years and have also worked in animal research. I have been trained as a veterinary assistant, although I lack certification. Currently I am with a local no-kill shelter. We do low cost vaccination clinics for the people who cannot afford a normal vet’s prices. I love this job, but eventually I will need to move to a full-time job with better pay.

    I think my best bet would be a job in research or at a vet’s office. I have sent letters of inquiry and resumes to local vets asking about open positions. I would like a job at a zoo someday, but I am not quite sure how to get my foot in the door without prior zoo experience. Is there any way to go about this other than just applying online for an open position?

  2. Ruth Patterson says

    Hi, I have not only dreamed of working with animals all of my life, but I think it’s all I really can seem to do that’s right. I am currently in college getting my degree in Psychology so I can work in the behavior field. I would love to work with marine animals. Currently I am also taking a veterinary assisting class from a zoo vet and it’s my second vet assisting class(the first one was domestic animals)I also volunteer at Homosassa Springs once a week (it takes me an hour and a half to get there) just so I can feed the manatees…someday soon I know there will be the right place for me to plug into for my career. I will do whatever it takes…for me there is nothing else…

  3. Hi Diana

    I came across you while researching animal careers.I am middle-aged and contemplating a second career.I must say your animal career series is wonderful and thorough.I really had no idea what other options there were available other than the usual trainer, groomer, sitter, walker businesses. I pretty much ruled out anything requiring a return to college although I’m not beyond taking online tech training or specific schools.

    I really am not sure about this path. I never went into it because I was ‘afraid’ I couldn’t get beyond emotional attachment. I’d like to read an article about how you handle that when training animals. Does one need to prepare to put up a shield and detach themselves from an emotional connection with the animal?Thanks Kate

  4. Hi Amanda,

    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. You have valuable experience but for the zoological world it would be best to get your degrees. There are some online courses where you can get certification, just make sure they are not diploma mills and are actually accredited and that accreditation is recognized.

    There is a zoological veterinary technicians group, join that. Nothing replaces hoofing it into places and getting no those who you are interested in working with.

    I do offer coaching and consulting for animal careers. If you think you need that help please contact me via “Hire Animal Expert” at the top of the page in the Navigation bar.

  5. Hi Ruth! So glad that you stopped by and took a minute to comment.

    Marine mammals is a big dream for many people but actually doing it is something else. Early in my career I commuted 1.5-2.0 hours each way to volunteer to work with exotics so it is commendable that you are doing that.

    Since the marine mammal field is so small, I’d encourage you to build relationships and leverage those.

    My work as a whale watch naturalist earned me some great relationships that leveraged my interview and subsequent hiring at a marine aquarium.

    If you can, get some specific marine mammal education. UC Santa Cruz has a good program but there are others out there (which I’ll be releasing in a special report soon).

    Also, having the vet tech background would be awesome–especially if it is with exotics and specifically marine mammals.

    Join a couple of the marine animal organizations and build those relationships and let us know how it goes.

    BTW I still have not met a manatee and would love it!

  6. Hi Kate,

    I am so happy to see one of my subscribers writing in–and your question is such a good one that I will blog about it today!

  7. Terry Potts says

    I worked for years with Horses and as a trainer I left the Bissness because of two things I was a singel Father and needed more money and I couldent take seeing the abuse they took any more I was never any good at school and not much better now I have always Had a Loving heart for the Help of animals I have a back ground of sergery asisting taking exrays and artafishel breeding and taking car of Brood mares and babys I have always had animals I have now a red tail boa a ball pithon and amazon tree frogs I have also had a ratel snake and a spreading viper and also my best friend zuse my Bull mastif who I took in as a rescue who is now 220 pounds sece I am vary bad at school lerning and more hans on what do I do and where do I tern Please help

  8. Hi I’m David and from the UK
    i’ve just found and read a few of you articles and found them really interesting and intend to read more.
    I’m 27 and just gone back to college and have been accepted for a uni degree in zoo management starting sept 2010. Alongside the course i’m doing now i commute for 2hours a day to do voluntary work at a safari park. At the park i mainly work with their herd of african elephants, its been great to see the implementation of a P.C. training system and all the changes that have been going on since i started have made so much difference to the elephants that i’m proud to be part of it.
    I’m not sure what animal/s i would like to eventually end up working with but i know i want to go and work in Australia because i love their native species and environments

  9. The zoo management program is supposed to be pretty good and I actually considered it at one time. The more experience you get and the more contacts you make will help take you forward. I’ve worked in both PC an FC–pros and cons both ways. You can find the Elephant Management article here in the html archives–I’ll be moving it soon so it is easier to find from the blog archives.

  10. Hi thanks for your reply, I’ve now read a lot more of your articles and links to other article , they are all very informative so i have joined your subscriber mailing list.
    In fact i have now realized i had previously read your article on elephant management last year before i started working at the safari park. I agree there are pros and cons with both FC and PC training, i love the idea of being close and building bonds with such a magnificent animal. From my reading the only way to achive FC training is with the use of a ankus/bull hook is this correct?
    I don’t feel i could use this type of tool after reading some of the horror stories on its use so i’m happy to stick with PC training for now.
    I’m interested in finding out more about your online school when you have got it up and running as i’m looking for every possible way to learn as much as i can.
    Thanks once again for your response its much appreciated.
    David in the UK

  11. Welcome as a subscriber David! Any training tool is only as good as those who use it.

    Unfortunately a lot of people buy into the biased reports on elephant training and the uses of the ankus. I don’t know of anyone not using an ankus in FC but have heard of people who have used something like a nail to prompt behavior.

    I’ll be working on a few projects so it should get interesting for my subscribers this year.

  12. Hi Terry, you’d actually need to book an appointment for animal career coaching. If you are better at the hands on work you might use your existing contacts to get back into the field in another area. There are a lot of different aspects of the horse business but any time you get into a livestock industry you are going to face challenges and will simply have to find someone who is in alignment with your values and priorities.

  13. Terry Potts says

    I just wonted to say thank you for getting back to me I am going to try some on line classes for a vet teck and get more into the filed of Snakes for my Boys they love there snakes and other animals my youngest son has a hard time in school as I did and if he see’s me at least trying at my age maybe it will help him to try harder for his Love of the animals I think you are a vary Gorges women and I can see in your Face the Love GOD ahs given you for Animales and the Love GOD has given you for People He has truly Blessed you and I thank GOD for People like you that Truly care from there Heart

  14. Okay, keep us posted!

  15. Elysia Fulcher says

    Hi, I just found this page and I am really really excited about it!!! Im just starting my second year of becoming a vet tech (in texas). Im 28, have gotten a BA in communication from UT at San Antonio and I’ve got to say this is the hardest educational program I have evvvver in my life been involved with. The great thing is I love every second of it! I am about to start a job in the lab animal department at the UTHSC and came about it through school, but I only got it because I reminded the supervisor I was interested EVERY time I saw her in our class! I cant wait to read more about this it is very motivating especially since I just started, have a good foundation of knowledge to start with, & love love love doing everything w/ the program I am in ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for your enthusiastic note Elysia, glad to see that you are excited and on your way to making your dream career with animals come true. Keep in touch and I hope you signed up for the newsletter!

  17. Hello!
    I jus found this page & Well I just had to post a comment since you asked! ๐Ÿ™‚ I have recently started thinking that what would really make me happy is a career in working with domestic animals.
    I am not currently not in college nor do I have any degrees. But I am determined to find something to do that I LOVE and makes me happy! My pets make me HAPPY..My friends, family & even strangers PETS MAKE ME HAPPY! Walking with them, playing with them & comforting them.
    I have never considered a career with animals cause I always automatically imagined a vet..I could never do that as I wear my emotions on my sleeve. ๐Ÿ™‚ Not good when dealing with injured or sick animals.
    I have recently started to volunteer at a local animal shelter & love it!!
    Obviously if I want to make this a career, I need to find a way to make decent living wit this as I have a family. I want to start this RIGHT! Where do I begin?! I am in Chicago, IL and want to start training and educating myself correctly on the RIGHT way to start dealing with animals not just the LOVING way to deal with them. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thanks for your time!!

  18. Bill Warren says

    I am someone who has a special “THING” with animals all my life. I have had numerous accounts of known mean or attacking animals to automatically befriend me, my love for animals seems almost to outweigh my love of my fellow mankind. I got involved with the wrong crowd and lost myself in drugs for years, in July of 2007 I was arrested for distribution of narcotics which was finally my bottom. I attended a behavioral changing facility for 6 months and have done numerous things to turn my life around. Today I am the person I should have been all along and through the office of vocational rehabilitation are searching for the best possible job field combined with my felony record. Bottom line is I want to know if caring for animals or looking after them and loving them is a viable career field for me with my record and my extreme love for all animals and my special “THING” I have with them.


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