Must Love Dogs: 14 Unexpected Jobs for Animal Lovers

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Man sitting outside smiling and holding his dog
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PET PROJECTS

Dog lovers everywhere will be happy to know that there are plenty of jobs and career paths that allow for spending your days with man's best friend. While some of the options are obvious, such as veterinarian or dog trainer, those are just the tip of the iceberg. Here are more than a dozen employment choices for those who want to work alongside Fido. Remember, too, that many companies are also becoming dog-friendly.
Dog Psychologist
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DOG PSYCHOLOGIST

Pet psychologists work with animals, typically household pets, which have behavioral issues, seeking to determine why a pet may be stressed or misbehaving. The psychologist's goal is to try to provide solutions based on their understanding of animal behavior and psychology. It's a job that can involve working with far more than just dogs. Some work with fish, reptiles, horses, and livestock. The average salary for "animal psychologist" ranges from approximately $38,700 per year for intervention specialists to $206,575 per year for psychologists, according to Indeed. Animal psychologists often have training as veterinarians or a traditional psychology degree.
Pet Photographer
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PET PHOTOGRAPHER

Want to spend your time taking pictures of Rover, Fido, and Benji, creating beloved portraits for dog owners everywhere? Look no further than pet photographer. "It's a great career for anyone who loves animals and wants to spend more time around them within their work," says Texas-based pet photographer Jenna Regan. While the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not separate animal photographer salary data from the profession as a whole, photographers earned a median annual wage of $32,490 in 2017.
Animal Chiropractor
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ANIMAL CHIROPRACTOR

Want to help dogs, and other animals for that matter, that are suffering from discomfort related to musculoskeletal issues? Becoming an animal chiropractor, which is no easy task, may be the career for you. The American Veterinary Chiropractic Association is the most prominent certification group for this profession. Certification candidates must hold a Doctor of Chiropractic or Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree, pass a comprehensive written exam, and complete an intensive practical-skills exam. As for the annual salary, it varies from $30,000 to $200,000. Earnings depend on such things as how many clients a chiropractor attracts and the hourly rate charged.
Dog searching for a bomb in a suitcase
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EXPLOSIVE-DETECTION DOG HANDLER

Nearly any frequent flyer is likely to have seen a dog at the airport walking alongside a security officer. The highly trained animal is there to sniff out explosives. Airport security is just one example of where explosive-detection dogs are used. They can also be found patrolling sports stadiums, cargo facilities, and loading docks. In addition to the benefit of working with animals, being an explosive-detection dog handler also pays quite well — anywhere from $47,000 to $98,500 per year.
Woman painting a dog
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DOG ARTIST

Calling all artists and creative types who love animals. Why not combine your passions and become a dog artist? Spend your days painting portraits or drawing sketches of someone's beloved canine companion. By some accounts, the salary for such a profession can be as much as $53,000 annually.
Search and rescue dog
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PUBLIC SERVICE

Beyond explosive-detection dogs, man's best friend fills a variety of other public service roles, such as working with police in tasks such as drug detection. There are also search and rescue dogs that are trained to find lost people. Many of these dogs typically live with their handlers and then are called out to conduct searches when needed. Police and sheriff's patrol officers averaged $64,490 a year in 2017, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics. And while some police departments require only a high school diploma to be a canine officer, others seek candidates who have an associate's or bachelor's degree.
Dog Show Handler
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DOG HANDLER FOR SHOWS

For those with a passion for pure-bred dogs, shows and competitions are yet another employment option. There's a variety of jobs associated with dog shows, such as working as a dog handler. Paid by dog owners to present their dogs, professional handlers play an important role. A handler must have a detailed understanding of breed standards, be willing to travel regularly, and is responsible for obedience training and grooming. There is no formal training to get your foot in the door, most start by working as a handler's assistant. Elite handlers can make over $100,000, but most make around $61,000.
Chihuahua wearing a sweater
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DOG FASHION DESIGNER

Dog fashion designer is no joke. It's just as important as a human fashion designer, (at least in some people's minds). Design clothes and accessories for pets and have plenty of furry friends around the office or runway to model your goods. It's a profession that typically involves picking up a fashion degree, naturally. But those who find success with this path can earn more than $100,000 annually.

Therapy dog
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THERAPY ANIMAL HANDLER

Explosives detection is not the only example of dogs working at the airport. Many airports have begun introducing dogs to assist travelers with anxiety and stress relief, in which case a handler typically walks the dog around the airport allowing travelers to pet the animal. More than 30 airports around the country have such programs. Similarly, animal-assisted therapy can involve taking a dog to a nursing home, hospital, or schools. To fill such roles, typically the owner and the dog must go through training. And it's best if your dog is housebroken, nonaggressive, and not fearful of strangers. As for pay, there often is little compensation, but that's not always the case, some make as much as $32,100.
Kennel attendant
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BOARDING

In addition to having an affection for dogs, boarding or doggie day care typically requires having some business or management experience, and the space of course to properly house dogs. Your daily duties will typically include supervising play time, cleaning kennels, and interacting with customers. Dog kennel owners average nearly $59,000 annually, according to PayScale.
Dog Breeder
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DOG BREEDER

Dog breeding can be a fulfilling job for those who want to work with four legged friends, says Lazhar Ichir, founder of Breeding Business, an educational platform for ethical dog breeders. But that doesn't mean it's the easiest job. "A dog breeder must become a true expert on the breed they're working with," says Ichir, adding that daily tasks of a breeder include cleaning kennels, training, and playing with dogs. "The best time of each year is when a litter is on the way, and then the puppies are there. It's an incredibly beautiful feeling." Animal breeders averaged $44,650 annually in 2015.
Dog Groomer
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GROOMER

Think of this job as the cosmetologist and hairdresser of the doggie world. Shampooing, trimming nails, and generally primping dogs to look and feel their best is the dog groomer's daily focus. To get started, try working as an assistant for a dog groomer and learn the basics. There are also dog grooming programs and schools. Some people even choose to get certification from the National Dog Groomers Association. Despite all the fun involved in making dogs look beautiful, the pay can be somewhat meager, with annual income hovering around $23,000.
Vet Technician
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VETERINARY TECHNICIAN

For those who many not want to go through all of the training required to become a veterinarian, another option is veterinary technician. Landing such a job typically requires passing a test to become credentialed and completing two to four years of school in a vet tech program. Expect to earn about $33,800 annually.
Pet shop worker holding a dog
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PET SUPPLIES RETAIL CLERK

One last option to consider for those who want to spend their career side-by-side with Fido. Working in a pet supply store such as Petco or PetSmart allows for contact with animals all day long. And other than learning how to operate a cash register or stock shelves, there's very little training required. As for salaries, retail clerks regardless of what type of store it is, make about $10 per hour. Think of it as a good summer job for a student or perhaps a side job.

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