A career in animal rescue requires passion and interest in working with animals. Some people land high-paying jobs in the field after doing volunteer work in rescue centers, wildlife rehabilitation facilities, humane societies, or other similar organizations.
It is, however, important to note that you will need a degree and accreditation from approved examination bodies for advanced careers in animal rescue. If you get an entry-level job, you have a chance to build experience for high-paying careers relating to animal rescue.
That said, we will look at the best careers in animal rescue across different organizations in the US.
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The best careers in animal rescue
Whether you are interested in wildlife or pets, there is an opportunity to get one of the best animal rescue jobs in and out of the US. Below we highlight the best careers in animal rescue ideal for you if you prefer to work around animals.
1. Animal welfare veterinarian
Animal welfare veterinarians are specialists in animal welfare and ethics. They are the ones who ensure wild animals and pets receive adequate care and live in the best environment and as natural as possible.
To become a certified animal welfare veterinarian, you need a degree in the veterinary field. You can pursue a bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine or veterinary tech. Upon completion, you will have to enroll for certification with the American College of Animal Welfare.
You can only proceed into practice after passing the certification exam. Jobs are available in animal humane, rescue or shelter society, wildlife parks, and animal control offices.
The median annual salary for veterinarians in the US is $99,250. Board-certified specialists get over $164,490 per year, which makes this one of the highest-paying veterinary specialties in the United States.
2. Humane educator
Humane educators are in charge of teaching the public about animal welfare, rights, and behavior to promote humane interaction between people and pets.
They achieve their objective through educational visits to schools, scout meetings, summer camps, college campuses, and community businesses. They present various animal-related educational programs that suit the specific groups during their visits.
Humane educators also teach pet adopters how to care for the new animals and perform any other general office work.
Though anyone can become a humane educator, those with a degree in education and course work in the animal-related field stand a high chance for employment. We recommend getting a certification from the Humane Society of the US.
The median annual salary for humane educators in the US is $31,370 while the highest-paid 10% earn more than $53,000 a year.
3. Animal shelter manager
An animal shelter manager is one of the best careers in animal rescue. They work in shelter facilities to supervise staff, ensure proper maintenance, and take care of animal welfare. They also develop operational procedures, seek funds, order supplies, organize donations, give tours of the shelter, and represent the facility at the community level.
Most animal shelter managerial positions require a degree in animal science, business administration, and other related fields. Experience in a shelter environment or managerial role also gives you an upper hand in the job market.
The average annual salary for animal shelter managers in the U.S. is $45,653. The highest-paid animal shelter managers earn more than $75,560 a year.
4. Animal control officer
Animal control officers work with contracted private animal welfare organizations or government animal care and control agencies to offer animal control services. Their duties vary, but primarily they patrol neighborhoods for stray, abandoned, and injured animals, pick up dead animals, probe issues on animal mistreatment, and enforce licensing regulations.
These officers handle all the animal-related emergency calls from the public. Therefore, a strong understanding of first aid and animal behavior is necessary. They also need to exercise proper safety precautions as they work in direct contact with animals.
You will need a degree in criminology or animal-related field for the job. A General Education Development (GED) or diploma with animal-related experience can also land you the job.
The mean annual salary for animal control officers in the U.S. is $38,430, with the highest earners getting $61,270.
5. Pet adoption counselor
The pet adoption counselor’s responsibility is to match appropriate shelter pets with potential owners. They review applications, screen potential adopters, and supervise interaction between potential adopters and pets.
Once they approve the potential adopters, the counselors train them on proper pet care, set appointments for vet procedures, and process adoption fees.
The employers of pet adoption counselors do not focus on education but rather on experience and passion for animal rescue and care. Therefore, you can land this job with a high school diploma and relevant work experience.
The pet adoption counselors earn a median annual salary of $24,516 with a potential of earning as high as $73,400 a year.
6. Wildlife rehabilitator
Wildlife rehabilitator attends to the hurt wild animals with the aim of returning them to their natural habitat if possible. They focus on the day-to-day care of the injured animals by taking them through physical therapy and giving medical attention under the observation of a veterinarian.
As such, wildlife rehabilitators need to have in-depth knowledge of various wildlife species, wound management, human restraints, and fluid administration and capture techniques.
Although many acquire such skills through a degree in animal science, animal behavior, biology, or zoology, first-hand experience working with expert wildlife rehabilitators gives you an edge in the job market.
You can also learn through volunteer programs at large wildlife rehabilitation facilities or wildlife veterinary.
The mean annual salary for wildlife rehabilitators in the United States is $47,716. The highest-paid wildlife rehabilitators earn more than $102,000 a year, which explains why it is one of the most important careers in animal rescue.
7. Marine rescue officer
Marine rescue officers work towards marine life conservancy and their responsibilities include rescuing, transporting, and rehabilitating stranded and endangered marine species. They collect data, analyze the data, and educate the public to ensure the safety of marine creatures.
You will need a bachelor’s degree in natural science, marine biology, or a related field to land a well-paying marine rescue job. However, if your focus is on educating the public on the importance of marine life, a degree in education will land you the job.
The job is among high-paying careers in animal rescue with a mean annual salary of $60,946 and the highest-paid earning more than $127,000 a year.
You can also check these high-paying marine biology jobs if you’re interested in marine-related jobs.
8. Animal lawyer
Animal lawyers are in charge of animal legal protection and welfare. They handle legal cases involving animal cruelty, veterinary malpractice, tainted pet food products, wrongful deaths, discrimination, dog bite defense cases, and other animal-related disputes.
Animal lawyers advise clients, undertake research, analyze legal questions, interpret laws, prepare and file legal documents, and present animal facts to achieve their job objectives.
Opportunities are available in animal protection groups, animal welfare organizations, conservation organizations, pet service providers, and individual clients.
You will need a 4-year undergraduate degree with a special interest in animal law and three years in law school. You must also pass the bar examination in your state.
According to Animal Legal Defense Fund, the average entry-level salary for animal lawyers is $50,000 a year while North Carolina State University estimates that lawyers earn a mean annual salary of $126,930 a year. These salaries make this career one of the highest-paying animal jobs in the U.S.
9. Marketing and publicity professionals
Animal rescue facilities work to maximize income from fundraising platforms and charity events. To achieve this, they require marketing and publicity professionals to promote volunteer programs and manage communications with patrons, donors, and other sponsors.
You will need a bachelor’s degree in public relations or marketing to get this opportunity. Experience working in an animal-related field or a marketing and publicity role will give you an upper hand.
The mean annual salary for marketing and publicity professionals in the U.S. is $59,869. The highest-paid earn more than $71,000 a year, which makes this one of the best careers in animal rescue.
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A career in animal rescue is one of the lucrative jobs in the United States. Most will require you to have a bachelor’s degree in a related field. Still, experience working in a relevant environment will land you a job even with General Education Development (GED) or a diploma. And, if you want to increase your chances of getting the best animal rescue jobs, you should build your experience through volunteer programs and formal internships.