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7 unconventional jobs for animal lovers

Do you love spending time with animals, but aren’t too keen on the years of study it takes to be a veterinarian? Are you someone who likes to think outside the box? Look no further, because we have a list of 7 unconventional jobs for animal lovers that might be right up your alley.

Pet detective

Humans aren’t the only ones who go missing – sometimes, our beloved pets are lost or stolen, and there’s not much we can do about it. That’s where pet detectives come in. Their goal is to reunite owners with their pets using investigative skills and animal know-how. But the job is about more than search-and-recovery; because of the emotional turmoil people experience when they lose a pet, sensitivity is important, and many pet detectives take on a counsellor-type role in the process.

If you love solving mysteries and want to make a real difference in the lives of pets and their owners, this could be the perfect role for you.

If you’re keen on the idea and want to get started, the Missing Animal Response Network offer online field courses for lost pet recovery training. Three Retrievers Lost Pet Rescue also have a free online handbook for Lost Pet Rescue. Need more inspo? Get in the zone of a pet detective by reading this pet detective autobiography, or rewatch Ace Ventura: Pet Detective for a giggle.

Animal colourist

Do you have an artistic flair? Do you like the idea of hairdressing, but prefer animals to people? Being an animal colourist is a creative step ahead of dog groomer, where you can use non-toxic dye to colour a range of different animals in tonnes of imaginative ways. Think turning an ordinary horse into a zebra, or a dog into a wolf. Animal colourists can be employed in the film and advertising industry, or hired by owners who want their pets to have that extra ‘wow’ factor. You could even branch out and include things like animal nail painting or feather extensions in your skillset.

You probably won’t need any formal education for this job, but undertaking a certificate in pet grooming could give you an edge. While you could potentially do an online course, hands on study is recommended due to the physical nature of the role. If you wanted to start your own business, becoming a Pet Industry Association member is also a good idea.

To get you excited and to see the kind of work you could do as an animal colourist, check out the website Animals of a Different Colour or this video with animal colourist expert Rose Ordile.

Big cat dentist

Yes, big cats need dentists too. If you’re more of a cat person and want to help lions and tigers with their pearly whites, you could look into pursuing veterinary dentistry with a focus on exotic felines.

It can be dangerous work due to the sheer size of these creatures and their fearsome nature, so it’s not for the faint hearted. If you consider yourself fearless, enjoy hands-on work and are interested in the realm of animal dentistry, this career could be your calling.

Don’t take our word for it – check out Kevin Richardson (aka the Lion Whisperer) as he performs a variety of big cat dental extractions in real-time.

Dog Show Stylist

Prefer our canine friends? If the glitz and glamour of show business appeals to you, you might like to become a dog show stylist. These groomers to our furry stars are responsible for taking care of your dogs skin, coat, and nails. It’s not just from a health perspective – image is very important in this industry, so we recommend going to a dog show as a spectator to see what this sport is all about.

Because they groom dogs specifically for the competitive world of dog shows, attention to detail and knowledge of the written breed standard is a must if you want to become a dog show stylist.

Take a look at what you’re up against here, with a list of the American Kennel Club championship winners through the years.

Crocodile Wrangler

Crocodile wranglers aren’t just found in movies or TV – it’s a real profession where highly trained individuals specialise in handling and managing crocodiles for a variety of purposes. Whether it’s for wildlife management, conservation, research, or public safety, we need crocodile wranglers now more than ever. If you have a passion for wildlife, aren’t afraid to get down and dirty, and have a soft spot for these scaly reptiles, you might love the adventure of being a crocodile wrangler.

To work in this unpredictable environment, you’ll need to be very familiar with crocodilian biology, so a bachelors degree in biology or zoology is generally advised, as well as a Certificate III in Working with Crocodiles. Hands on experience is essential, so completing a training course in crocodile handling can be helpful too.

Want to know more about what it’s really like to be a crocodile wrangler? This interview with crocodile wrangler Matt Wright gives the lowdown on the ins and outs of crocodile wrangling.

Pet adoption counsellor

Do your friends describe you as caring and supportive? Do you like helping people (and animals)? If your answer is a resounding “yes,” you could be an adoption counsellor, helping pets find their fur-ever homes.

Pet adoption counsellors are basically matchmakers between humans and pets. It’s their job to help find new homes for pets in shelters by reviewing adoption applications and helping facilitate a strong bond between pet and prospective owner. They are also responsible for training animals for adoption and educating potential pet parents about the reality of ownership.

You only need a high school diploma to become a pet adoption counsellor, but why not get started now at an animal shelter and discover the benefits of volunteering for students? You can also check out this day in the life of a pet adoption counsellor for more.

Ostrich babysitter

I know you might be sceptical, but trust us, this is a real job. Being an ostrich babysitter really isn’t that different from being a regular babysitter, except you get to watch cute baby ostriches all day. Ostrich babysitters are tasked with making sure the newborn chicks don’t fight with each other, get attacked by predators, or escape.

It’s mainly a popular role in South Africa, but ostrich farming is taken seriously all over the world. These feisty flightless birds need lots of care and attention, so it’s important you have animal work experience before taking on this niche role.

If you want to get started in the world of ostrich babysitting, you might like to take a tour of an ostrich farm to see what the work environment might be like, or brush up on your ostrich knowledge to get a head-start. Or you could obtain a Certificate of Ornithology (bird studies) if you don’t want to be limited in your bird babysitting abilities.

Want more?

If you’re interested in a career that’s out of the box, check out our blog on 13 unusual jobs you might not know exist.

Looking for something a bit more mainstream? We have heaps of articles on how to kickstart your career journey here.


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