If you were the kid who enjoyed a day at Sea World more than Six Flags, slept with your cat at the foot of your bed every night, or describe your dog as being one of your best friends, you may be interested in a career involving animals.
Traditionally, the first job that comes to mind in animal interaction is usually a veterinarian, but there are a lot more out there that can take a little less schoolwork and still let you work with your furrier friends. Education requirements are one of the first things to consider, since a career in preventive medicine takes a lot more time and money on your part than a part-time job as a dog walker.
Another important thing to consider is what you would like to be doing for the animals. Are you interested in hands-on work or do you want to focus on educating other people about animal life? What kinds of animals do you want to work with?
There are a lot of options out there, with fields in care and conservation of wildlife, animal training, education and a variety of closely related fields that use animal interaction in their work.
Here are 10 jobs -- beyond veterinarians -- that let you work with animals:
What they do: Assist in grooming, training and companionship for animals staying in pet spas, kennels and similar temporary locations.
What they earn: A median salary of $22,040 when working for a company.
What they do: Study and interact closely with the lives of species that spend all or most of their lives in water.
What they earn: $57,430 is the median salary.
3. Park Manager
What they do: Oversee daily park maintenance and operations. They are in charge of preserving and protecting wilderness areas.
What they earn: $32,260 is the median salary for state and local government positions.
What they do: Educate students on the methods of observation, experimentation and study of different topics in science, including animal life.
What they earn: A median salary between $53,230.
What they do: Maintain the appearance and hygiene of animals.
What they earn: A median salary of $29,780 when working for a company.
What they do: Study the scientific causes, development and results of diseases in animals.
What they earn: A median salary between $120,000 and $160,000 for industry work.
What they do: Practice law with special focus on how it deals with animals. Cases can range from veterinary malpractice to anti-cruelty issues.
What they earn: The median annual salary of all lawyers are $112,760
8. Zoo Director
What they do: Organize and direct zoo operations. This position includes everything from analyzing the annual budget to organizing the special care of animals.
What they earn: The average starting salary for zoologists is $29,000.
What they do: Study behavioral patterns in animals and apply techniques to improve mental, social and physical issues within humans through animal/human companionship.
What they earn: Median annual earnings of physical therapists are $39,410, but the concentration of animal-assistance may increase or decrease earnings. Some animal-assisted therapy is considered volunteer work.
What they do: Teach animals how to act in response to different conditions or stimuli. Training is conducted for entertainment, protection, detection or companionship.
What they earn: $36,000 is the median salary with one to four years of experience.*
* Salary sources: Payscale.com, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), American College of Veterinary Pathologists (AVCP), The Princeton Review
Copyright 2006 CareerBuilder.com.