Companion animals touch the lives of most Americans on a daily basis. According to the 2011-12 American Pet Products Association (APPA) survey, approximately 62% of U.S. households own a companion animal such as a dog, cat, rabbit, bird, guinea pig, hamster, snake, or fish. It is estimated that in 2013 pet owners will spend $55.53 billion on their pets’ care and supplies. Spending on companion animals has increased over $12 billion dollars in the last five years. This increased market for companion animal care and products has increased demand for professionals knowledgeable about companion animals to work in different career fields.
The career people most commonly associate with companion animals is a veterinarian. Veterinarians provide critical health care to companion animals and must undergo extensive training to become licensed. There are many opportunities for veterinarians to practice outside of working in a small animal clinic setting. Veterinarians can specialize in a variety of areas including nutrition, behavior, ophthalmology, orthopedics, shelter medicine, and more. In addition, veterinarians can work in industry to help develop products and medications for animals or to oversee colonies of research animals. Other health care careers with companion animals include veterinary technicians, research scientists, and geneticists.
An increased number of products and services are available for companion animals. For each of these areas, there is increased need for people to fill these careers. Pet services include trainers, behaviorists, groomers, boarding and daycare facility employees, and photographers, just to name a few. Animal control officers, sheltering professionals, and humane educators play an important role in the care of companion animals as well.
The pet food industry offers a wide variety of career opportunities. There is a demand for high quality pet foods. To assist with development of pet foods, companies must hire research scientists to develop the diets, animal care technicians to oversee research animals, quality control specialists to ensure that the product is safe and consistent, and sales and marketing personnel to showcase the product to consumers.
The number of career possibilities with companion animals is almost limitless. If you are interested in learning more about specific careers, check out our career profiles of people with exciting jobs with companion animals. See what they have to say about preparing for and finding a job like theirs. A few examples of these careers include:
Career Profiles Listed by Education Level
Career Profiles Listed by Category in Companion Animal Industry
Click here to watch videos about different companion animal careers.
Companion Animal Career Webinars
- “Health care careers: What’s it like to be a vet?” hosted by Dr. Nancy Dreschel from Penn State University. View archived webinar by clicking here.
- “Animal behavior careers: beyond dog training” hosted by Dr. Elizabeth Wells with Michigan State University Extension and Dr. Daniela Sharma from Rutgers University. View the archived webinar by clicking here.
- “Shelter and welfare careers: Can you really make a living?” hosted by Dr. Amy Fischer from the University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign. View the archived webinar by clicking here.
- “Working with exotics: What can you do?” hosted by Dr. Lisa Karr-Lilienthal from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Dr. Perri Stark from Rutgers University. View the archived webinar by clicking here.
- “Pet Food Industry Careers” hosted by Dr. Lisa Karr-Lilienthal from University of Nebraska – Lincoln. View archived webinar by clicking here.
- “Companion Animal Entrepreneurship: Running your own companion animal business” hosted by Dr. Nancy Dreschel from Penn State University and Dr. Liz Wells from Michigan State University. View the archived webinar by clicking here.
- Careers in anthrozoology: How people and companion animals work together hosted by Dr. Anne Perkins from Carroll College. View the archived webinar by clicking here.
- “Lab Animal Careers” hosted by Dr. Daniela Sharma from Rutgers University. View the archived webinar by clicking here.