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Taylor, lead animal keeper at Animal Wonders, shares her tips and advice on how to get your animal dream job!

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Hi everyone.  Welcome back to Animal Wonders.  My name is Taylor.  A couple months ago, I shared with you how I got my dream job here at Animal Wonders and today I'd like to share my advice for anyone looking to find a career working with animals.


There are so many different careers and paths that you can take if you want to work with animals, and everyone will have their own story, so today I want to give you my advice.  These are either tips or strategies that I discovered along the way or were shared with me on my journey.

First and foremost, if you want a career working with animals, you have to be passionate about animal and animal welfare.  There are many people who love animals and that's wonderful, but it isn't always enough if you want to work with them.  Caring for animals takes a lot of hard work and dedication and it can also be very stressful.  For example, with my job here, I do get to interact and have fun with the animals, but most of my day is actually spent cleaning and picking up poo, and that's definitely hard to do if you are not passionate.

My second piece of advice is to accept and seek out help.  It can be very overwhelming when you're first trying to decide on a career.  There are so many jobs and schools and programs and degrees out there, but don't get too bogged down or discouraged, because you're not alone.  You are surrounded by people who care about you and they can help.

When I was in high school, I talked with my biology teacher and he helped me choose degrees that I might be interested in.  After that, my mom helped me find strong schools with professors doing fascinating research.  Then, once I was in college, I made sure to take full advantage of my advisor.  She gave me advice, wrote me recommendation letters, and helped me find scholarships and internships that would help me achieve my dream.  

My next piece of advice involves schooling.  Most jobs working with animals will require a Bachelor's degree in a life science.  This could be biology, zoology, ecology, and so on.  Some jobs will also accept other degrees like communications or business.  If you can't get a four year degree, then try for an associate's degree.  If you can't get an associate's degree or a degree at all, then it's essential for you to get experience.

The application process for careers working with animals is very competitive and with or without a degree, experience is a major bonus.  

This leads me to my fourth piece of advice: get out there and get experience.  Internships and volunteer opportunities were invaluable for me.  It can be hard to know what career you want without trying it out.  Also, sometimes a job you think you'll absolutely love ends up being completely different from what you expected.

I originally thought that I wanted to do research and conservation work, but after a couple internships, I realized research just wasn't my thing and I also discovered my passion for wildlife education, so even if you know exactly what you want to do, get out there and give it a try before you dedicate all your time and effort to one specific path.

My next piece of advice is to put a lot of time and effort into your applications.  Future employers will look closely at your schooling and your experience.  With internships, it's completely fine to have many that were short-term.  However, for work experience, they will look closely at the work you did and how long you stayed with the job.  Loyalty is very valuable, so if you change jobs frequently, make sure you explain why in the cover letter or the interview.  Also, tailor your resume and your cover letter to each job.  Talk in more detail about the experiences that will be the most relevant for that job, and keep an open mind while you volunteer, apply, and work.  You never know what you'll learn along the way.

If you're struggling with any of that, my last piece of advice is to reach out to peers in your field.  There are so many groups and forums online, so join a few and find the one that fits you and go from there.  Ask your questions and listen.  There's so much that you can learn from the collective experiences of animal enthusiasts.  

If you want a career working with animals, there are so many different paths that you can take, and every person you ask will have different challenges and obstacles that they face.  These are just strategies that helped me get to where I am today.  I hope that you find these tips helpful and I wish you all the very best in achieving your own dreams.

If you want to go on an adventure with us every week, subscribe to our YouTube channel, AnimalWondersMontana.  Thanks and we'll see you next week.