It's sometimes hard to be practical when you're working from the heart. And sometimes, you may want or need to work as a volunteer without pay to gain experience and contacts. But you also need to keep in mind your financial needs when planning your career.

How Much Would I Earn?

It's not such a simple question.

Salaries depend on many factors including:

  • Education Level
  • Previous Experience
  • Employment Sector
  • Specific Job
  • Geographic Location
  • Seniority

Salary Surveys

For information on income potential in various occupations based on survey data, check:

Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics

Sample Salary Statistics

Occupation Lowest Paid 10% Median Annual Salary Highest Paid 10%
$38,000 $63,090 $123,370
Veterinarian Technologists
$16,170 $22,950 $33,750
Animal Trainer
$13,740 $22,060 $43,300
Animal Caretaker
$12,260 $16,420 $26,780
Wildlife Biologist
$29,260 $47,740 $71,280

2002 data from U.S. Dept. of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics

Interpret Salary Data Carefully

  • Learn starting salaries as well as the median and range in each field.
  • Check salary data in the area where you will be working.
  • Investigate medical, vacation, retirement and other employer-funded benefits.
  • What's the top salary? What education, experience, or other factors result in higher pay?
  • How do salaries in each field compare with the cost of living near you or where you want to live?

The most important benefits may not be $$$.

Benefits that don't show up in surveys include:

  • Working directly with animals.
  • Working outdoors often.
  • Working with other people who share your values.
  • Being creative, using your skills, and following your passion.
  • Knowing you are making a difference.