I like to describe myself as “the luckiest person in the world”. Why is that? (you may be asking yourself). It’s because I get to work with pets (and pet people) every day of my life. If it’s your dream to work with them, too, there’s probably never been a better time to make that career shift. In 2016 the pet industry was worth over $64B, and it’s on track to be over $92B by 2019 – that’s a lot of kibble!
Here are a few good ways to test the waters before taking that leap:
Educate yourself. With the growing popularity of online education, it’s easier than ever to get a good basic foundation in fields as diverse as canine behavior, business administration and equine husbandry. Check out resources like FetchFind, the U.S. Small Business Administration, and dog*tec.
Become a volunteer. Volunteering at a local shelter or animal advocacy group is probably the single best way to prepare yourself for a career working with animals. You’ll get lots of hand-on experience, and see if you really enjoy the work. At large shelters, you can volunteer in areas such as dog and cat care, veterinary clinic, marketing, fostering and public relations. Advocacy groups often need researchers, marketers and lawyers, so if you already have those skills you can gain valuable industry-specific experience.
Apply for an internship. If you want to take a more formal approach to learning about the pet industry from the ground up, considering applying for an internship. Many established companies, as well as small startups, offer both paid and unpaid internships in areas such as dog training, grant proposal writing, and social media. One of the great things about internships is that if you like the company, you’ve already got an “in” for a regular job. And, at the very least, you will have gained a portfolio of skills, contacts, and references that can help you later on.
How did you get your start in the pet industry? Let us know in the comments!