Careers in Animal-Related Business

Many trends in human-animal relationships are creating a need for more supplies and services relating to companion animals and wildlife. Many new jobs and businesses are being created to fulfill these growing needs.

Trends leading to more animal-related business jobs

  • Two-career families have more money to spend on pet care and wildlife enjoyment and are willing to spend it.
  • Many have less time to spend with their animals but still want them to be happy and well-cared-for.
  • Increasing travel means even less time to spend with pets but more opportunities to enjoy animals as tourists. 

Join or Start a Business?

Either choice has risks and benefits. Remember: Many people start out as employees to learn how to run a business, then gradually branch out on their own. 

  • Existing businesses are growing and need more qualified employees.
  • Growing demand for employees means better salaries and benefits if you get hired and more security than a start-up business.

But...

  • Starting a business is exciting and may offer more economic potential.
  • Owning a successful business can give you more flexibility and control than typical employees.

Education vs. Experience

  • Undergraduate business courses or a Master's degree in business are valuable preparation for economic, legal, organizational and other aspects of business.
  • Some animal-related businesses, such as dog grooming, can be learned in special schools or certificate programs.
  • On-the-job training is often considered the best way to learn many specific trades, crafts, and other business skills. 
  • You need to know the requirements of each specific business to know how best to prepare to work there or start that type of business.

Steps to starting a small business.

Ask yourself...

  • Why do you want to start a business?
  • Do you have the skills, education, experience, personality, and motivation to run a business?
  • Have you done market research to prove a need for your products or services?
  • Can you afford all the costs, including lost salary and benefits from a current job, of starting a new business? 
  • Do you have a thorough plan to start and run the business?
  • Do you know who to ask if you have problems with accounts, laws, taxes, or other issues?

Perhaps the Biggest Step - Find a Unique Niche.

  • Supplying the needs of the nation's pet and livestock owners and wildlife watchers is a big job.  No one can do it all.
  • Use market research to determine what products or services are most needed in your area.
  • Ask yourself what products or services you're best able to provide.
  • Who's your competition?
  • Think of ways to make your business different from - and better than - all the others.

An example of a successful niche business: Wild Bird Centers tell potential franchise purchasers of spending trends:

  • $3.1 billion annually to feed wild birds & other wildlife
  • $732 million on houses, feeders, nest boxes, & birdbaths
  • $507 million on binoculars and other optics
  • $337 million on wildlife-related books & other media

Perhaps even more than in other work, business owners need to prepare for their career choices.

  • A good place to start preparing to run your own business is the Small Business Administration.
  • Also check your community for business support groups. There are groups especially for women, minorities, career changers, and others who may have special concerns about running a small business.
  • Try to find an experienced business person who can be your mentor.

Sample Animal-Related Businesses

What's your idea?

Learn more about careers in animal-related businesses.

Suggested readings:

Sirch, Willow Ann.  2000.  Careers with Animals.  Fulcrum.  (Part Three:  Careers Working with Pets).

Miller, Louise.  2001.  Careers for Animal Lovers & Other Zoological Types.  VGM Career Books. (Chapter 5: Building a Business Around Animals).

  • Check your local telephone directory.  How many animal-related businesses are listed?  What businesses aren't there?  Is that a niche for you?
  • Visit the Small Business Association website. Look at the "checklist for starting a new business."  What would it take for you to get ready?
  • Check the web for the sites of specific businesses in a field that interests you, and for local and national associations that support that type of business.  Is there a group that certifies professionals in that field?

Professional Studies

Pick your interest and then look for a professional association with whom you can network.

Read trade publications; attend conferences and expos.

Volunteer at animal care agencies - meet your clientele!