There are approximately 199,850 nonfarm animal caretakers and 89,480 veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Many different types of facilities and businesses employ animal caretakers, including veterinary offices, kennels, stables, breeding farms, boarding facilities, rescue centers, shelters, sanctuaries, zoos, aquariums, and pet stores. The federal government is also a major employer of animal caretakers, specifically the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Both federal and state government jobs are available in parks. This field is growing, and increasing job opportunities will be available all over the country for animal caretakers. Since pet ownership and interest in animals continues to increase, more and more jobs will become available with all kinds of employers, resulting in work in environments ranging from nonprofit organizations to retail stores to laboratories.
High school students who volunteer will be able to test the job before committing to it. This also enables them to add a job to their resume that demonstrates experience in the field.
Two- and four-year college programs offer some placement assistance, but familiarity with the regional market for organizations that use animal caretakers helps in selecting places to contact about employment. Many animal caretakers work in veterinary offices and boarding facilities or kennels, but animal research laboratories also hire many caretakers. Other employers include the federal government, state governments, pharmaceutical companies, the gaming industry (racetracks, in particular), teaching hospitals, and food production companies.
Advancement depends on the job setting. There may be promotion opportunities to senior technician, supervisor, assistant facilities manager, or facilities manager. Some animal caretakers may open their own facilities or services. Services such as dog walking require little in the way of offices or equipment, so these are easy ways for animal caretakers to start on their own, with an established clientele that they bring from a previous position.
Laboratory workers can move from assistant technician to technician to technologist with increased education and experience. But for most promotions, more education is usually required.
Tips for Entry
Visit the following Web sites for job listings: https://www.aalas.org/careerline/about-careerline#.Vw_rx3rUV8E and https://www.avma.org/ProfessionalDevelopment/Career/VCC/Pages/default.aspx.
Become certified in order to show employers that you have met the highest standards established by your industry.
Join professional associations to access training and networking resources, industry publications, and employment opportunities.