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.
- 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.
- 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
- Animal training
- Animal caretaker
- Dog grooming
- Animal assisted therapist
- Pet transportation
- Pet bakery
- Dog fencing, microchips IDs, and other special sales
- Pet portraiture
- Wildlife photography
- Backyard habitat consulting
- Aquarium consulting
- Eco-tourism planning or guiding
- Green / holistic animal and gardening supplies
- Organic farming and opportunities related to sustainable agriculture
What's your idea?
Learn more about careers in animal-related businesses.
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?
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!