Jobs In Animal Rescue

cat held by person Photo by Галина Ласаева: by Галина Ласаева:

Do you dream of having a job in animal rescue? Doing what you love and getting paid for it is the dream. How realistic is that dream?

It’s definitely a possibility. You can get jobs in animal rescue without even having any training. You can get jobs in animal rescue using the skills you may already have. You can also get specialized training for a job in animal rescue. Here are some ideas.

Direct Nonmedical Animal Care In A Shelter

Many shelters and rescues rely solely on volunteers, but a lot of them mix volunteers with paid staff. You can get paid to take care of the animals in many shelters and rescues.

Caring For Animals

person taking care of shelter animals Photo by Mia X: by Mia X:

A shelter near me is currently advertising for a position to be an animal care attendant. They ask that the job seeker take good care of the animals and deal with the public well. There is no degree required for this position and the pay starts at $15.00 per hour. Medical benefits and paid time off are part of the benefit package for this position. There are other shelters in my area that are advertising for similar positions. Some of them require previous experience and pay a bit more.

Not necessarily a rescue pet job, but there are also doggy daycares that need people to take care of the dogs during the day.

Bathing And Grooming

dog bathing Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko: by Tima Miroshnichenko:

This is a more specialized job in an animal shelter or rescue. Many places require some experience with bathing and grooming animals and some provide training. There are assistant groomer positions and master groomer positions. The assistant jobs pay a bit more than general animal care jobs and the master groomer jobs pay even more.

You could also get a job at a grooming shop and perform similar duties.


Some shelters employ people to drive the animals to adoption events, vet appointments, and other necessary trips. You might also be asked to drive interstate routes to pick up animals from out of the area. You’d need a good driving record for this job and sometimes you will get training from the shelter.


dog training Photo by Pixabay: by Pixabay:

Another specialized job is assessing and training the animals. You would need to determine the adaptability of the rescue animal and make a plan for training that could increase their adoptability. Sometimes shelter trainers teach classes to the other staff and the public. Some experience and certification is often required for this type of job.

Animal Control Officer

Animal Control Las Vegas Animal Control F-250 - LEAD 2020.jpg

This job is usually a town or state employee. Sometimes shelters have contract with the city or county they are in to do the animal control role. An animal control officer is responsible for helping abandoned pets and distressed wildlife found in the streets of your catchment area. You’d enforce animal cruelty laws and investigate animal bites. This job usually requires certification as an animal control officer.

Medical Care In A Shelter

Sometimes shelters have their own medical staff, especially vet assistants. Or vets and assistants can work as freelancers or consultants to the rescue

Veterinary Technician Or Assistant

Veterinary tech Langley Veterinary Clinic, Keeping our furry friends healthy 160317-F-TM985-051.jpg,_Keeping_our_furry_friends_healthy_160317-F-TM985-051.jpg

There are vet tech certification programs that qualify you to take an exam and become a vet tech. These programs can be 18 months, 2 years, or 4 years in length. The vet tech might be compared to a human physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner.



A veterinarian has a bachelor’s degree and then four years of veterinary school. It’s a lot like becoming a human doctor and many vets have specialties. It may be harder to get into vet school because there are fewer vet schools than medical schools. Vets may work part-time at a shelter or rescue and full-time in another setting, or they may be full-time at the shelter.

Office Work In A Shelter

A rescue or shelter of a certain size will have plenty of office workers. Some of these jobs are highly specialized and others can be done with little education or training. Some of the jobs may be combined into one so you may be an office manager and adoption manager, a fundraiser and a volunteer coordinator, or some other combination. If you are interested in an office job in an animal shelter or animal rescue keep an eye out for job postings.


A shelter director would need to have a lot of experience and education to do their job properly.  A love of animals is important, as are high organizational and leadership skills. Overseeing all the aspects of a shelter is a big job and the person should have experience as a director or office manager as well as extensive animal rescue experience. The director is in charge of all finances, policies, following regulations, and everything having to do with successfully running the shelter.



The receptionist would answer phones and greet visitors or potential adoptive families. They may do some scheduling and other office work as well. A flexible receptionist might take part in animal care. Some shelters would require a high school diploma for this job and other would ask for an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.

Office Manager

office manager

An office manager takes charge of all the office tasks and delegates them to the receptionist and other staff. The office manager might do hiring and training of new staff.  They are involved in developing office procedures, overseeing the finances of the shelter, and strategizing with the director and other administrators. Usually, these jobs require office experience and a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Many times actual experience with animals is not a requirement, although a love of animals is always useful in this environment.

Adoption/Foster/Volunteer Manager

Some shelters have paid positions for people to manage their foster program or their adoptions or their volunteers. This might involve finding foster homes or adoptive families, scheduling, vetting foster or adoptive homes, keeping good records, and supervising volunteers. I have seen help wanted ads for positions such as this and sometimes they don’t require education, but they do want experience in an office.

Fundraiser/Events Manager

Pet event

All shelters and rescues need to raise money so they can continue to operate. Many of these organizations will pay someone to work on fundraising and events full-time, or at least part-time. This person would work at planning and implementing events to raise money for the organization. Some fundraisers will also write grants to help the shelter. Usually, these jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree in something like marketing.

Cleaning Staff

cleaners Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko: by Tima Miroshnichenko:

The shelter needs a lot of cleaning and somebody willing to do it. This is a tough cleaning job, but an animal lover might really enjoy contributing to the well-being of the animals. This is a job that wouldn’t require much training or education and is very much needed.

Other Office Or Professional Jobs

Shelter may need legal counsel, accountants, bookkeepers, and other office and professional services. This may be only part-time or on-call, but if you want to use your skill to help animals you can take several part-time or on-call jobs or you could have one full-time job and do consulting at a shelter when they need it.

Entrepreneurial Jobs

These jobs can be combined. For example, you can run a doggie day care, provide training and grooming services all in one place.

Running your own shelter

dog in a cage Photo by Guilherme Stecanella: by Guilherme Stecanella:

Many people dream of running their own shelter. In effect, you would be the shelter or rescue director of your own organization. You’d also probably be doing many of the other jobs that a shelter needs until your organization gets big enough and stable enough for you to hire other people.

So many people rescue abandoned animals on a volunteer basis. If you want this to be your job, you definitely need a lot of experience. It’s a hard job and can be heartbreaking. Rescuing animals can be expensive with vet bills for sick animals, food, and other expenses. Adoption fees rarely cover all the expenses required to take care of the animals, never mind making a profit that you could live off of.  Making your rescue into a 501c3 nonprofit organization might help to solicit donations. You could also make animal-themed crafts to sell on Etsy to help fund your efforts.

Katie Cleary and Stephanie Summers-Mayer both partnered with a larger rescue organization to help them out with their animal rescue operations. Both Katie and Stephanie also have many other projects that they work on that produce income streams for them. You could work independently or in collaboration with a larger rescue while also doing other work as well.

Cat Cafe

cat in a cafe Photo by tu nguyen: by tu nguyen:

You might consider opening a cat cafe. That way you could help animals and make money by selling food and drinks. You could still be a nonprofit organization and you would have another source of income. This can be tricky though because cafes and restaurants are tough businesses. Many regular cafes don’t survive very long and a cat rescue cafe had the added expenses of the animals.


dog being trained Photo by Blue Bird: by Blue Bird:

You can get certified as an animal trainer and you can get experience doing it with your own pets and the pets of your friends and family. You could see if you could mentor with another trainer to improve your skills. Then you could offer your service to private paying clients, to shelters as a consultant, to vet’s offices, and other places.


dog being groomed Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko: by Tima Miroshnichenko:

Just like with being a trainer, you can get dog grooming training and then set up a shop in your home, in a mobile van, or do freelancing. Other animals need grooming services as well as dogs. My guinea pigs need their nails cut fairly often and my cat could use a nail trim as well. I have a traveling vet who comes by to trim my pig’s hooves and tusks. You could freelance with a shelter or offer your services, paid or volunteer, to rescues.

Doggy Daycare/Boarding/Pet Sitting

You could advertise your dog walking/pet sitting business online. You could also take dogs or other pets into your home or a facility as a daycare situation and/or boarding for when pet owners go away for a while. You could partner with a rescue or shelter to offer your services to them. You don’t have to limit yourself to dogs - all pets might need care at times!

Wildlife Rescue And Conservation Jobs

wildlife rescue wildlife rescue

Wildlife rescue and conservation organizations need some of the same jobs done as shelters and rescues. Instead of having a clientele of abandoned pets, they work with injured and distressed wildlife. They also work on educating the public about wildlife conservation issues. There are bachelor’s degrees in wildlife management, but many jobs require minimal education and experience - just a keen interest.

Do You Want A Job In Animal Rescue?

It may sound like a wonderful job, but stop to consider it for a moment. You’ll be seeing a lot of animals in distress. You’ll be working with them when they are sick and possibly aggressive. You will see the heartbreaking results of callus human abandonment of animals. Can your heart take all of this? If so, it is much-needed work, but make sure you understand all that is involved before you jump right in. Read my rescue pets in the city page and do a lot of volunteer work before you commit to this work. And take care of yourself!

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