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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well, late last year I finally admitted to myself, after 3 years of soul searching about what kind of career area to get into, that my passion was animals and I was/am going to feel like my work life is a waste if I don't do something that would help animals in some way. But I mistakenly thought the hard part was finding a passion, when I guess it really has been finding an area I could fit in!

This is what I have come up with so far, I could really use everyones feedback cause I made it my New Year's Resolution to get this resolved once and for all so I don't get further and further behind career-wise.

Quick snapshot of me: 25 year old female, live in Central NJ about 50 minutes from Manhattan. BA in Psych, work experience is admin (I hate admin btw) and now some website maintenance.

Vet Tech: couldn't handle euthanizing animals, couldn't handle pet owners who have different attitudes towards animal welfare than I do.

Veterinarian: extremely hard to get into school, same dilemmas as vet tech.

Humane/Control Officer: would not be able to stomach seeing situations where due to legal technicalities I couldn't help the animal. I seriously think this would lead to me becoming severely depressed.

Animal shelter: I have tried volunteering in them and cry myself to sleep every night.

work for animal rights group: Farm Sanctuary, PETA and the ASPCA are too far away from my location, Humane society doesn't have positions I qualify for, and would be financially hard to commute to the city every day for an administrative position which I would understand they can't pay me that much

nutritionist/dietician: this is my current top choice, it would be awesome to counsel people on how to make the transition to vegetarian/veganism but how realistic is this? I would absolutely never be able to work in the more traditional dietician jobs in nursing homes, hospitals, etc. cause I couldn't do it morally.

vegetarian chef: is this realistic? I don't have any cooking experience and would hate to get cooking experience cooking with meat, which leaves me limited.

own my own vegetarian store/restaraunt: I don't know if this is realistic at this point being I don't have any managerial experience nor do I have capital.

What should I do? Has anyone else had this dilemma? Am I leaving any possible jobs out?
 

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I think the nutritionist idea is great. Of course you are going to meet some people who refuse to taper down their consumption of animal products. That part will suck. That would defeat the purpose of going to a nutritionist, not taking their advice.
I digress..

If you could handle planning omni meals, while trying to incorporate more veg ideas, then I'd say this is the one for you.

I WISH I could find a nutritionist around here that supported vegan diets & raw food diets. *sigh*
 

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I can try to offer you advice. I have worked in the animal field. I worked at a cat shelter and at the zoo.

I don't know whether or not you are anti-zoo or not but that could be an option. Most zoos are very focused on conservation now so you will could be working with lots of cool endangered animals and help breed them. But might have to handle some meat so don't know how you feel about that. Also zookeeper don't make much so be prepared to be poor!

In order to get a job working with animals, having volunteer experience helps.

I have a Bachelor in Psych too - I concernated on Animal Psychology and that although with volunteer work and working at the animal shelter helped me get my job at the zoo.

Another newer field is Animal Counselor - like Behavioral - Animal 'Shrink" if you will. Which you might be a good match for since you are Psych background. Although, you might have to go to Masters for that.

I don't think that Veggie chef would be out of the question at all! If you like fiddling with food and recipes, might be quite good! There are places you can go I am sure to get veggie chef training.

The nutrition one I would think you would need more than a Psych degree since it would be all about biology and chemistry but I don't know much about that. Just a guess. The nutritionist at our zoo had a higher degree.

this web site has some options too:

http://www.hsus.org/press_and_public...h_animals.html

http://www.anapsid.org/resources/jobs.html

What about a pet sitter? They can make good money in tips!

I used to have two books on careers with animals because I went through exactly the same you are going through - deciding what to do! I couldn't pass Chemistry so Vet School was definately out for me! Plus, I wanted to work with conservation related issues.

Btw, I am thinking about somewhere down the line opening a vegan cafe too!


You should maybe ask yourself what KIND of animal work would I rather do - Zookeeper work is very dirty and messy. The 'cleaner' kinds of animal jobs are probably the counselor type jobs - might also be good if you don't want to be around animals that might possible die if you think it might depress you. Also, do you want to work with exotics or domesticated animals?

For me, I knew I wanted to have some hand-to-hand contact and wanted to do conservation. RIght now, I have been in IT for the past four years but I want to go back to working with animals.

I hope I helped out. I would be happy to answer any questions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks to both of you for the thoughtful replies. Jessica, that is exactly what makes me nervous about attempting to go back to school to be a nutritionist- I don't think I would feel good at all about helping omnivores. I really would only want to help people who particularly are trying to convert to being vegetarian or vegan. So that would mean I would have to have my own practice and I think thats pretty risky.

The vegetarian chef idea is intriguing to me and they have the coolest looking holistic culinary institute in NYC but the cost of the program is $18,000! And I am not sure how to test the idea out before committing myself to it. Also the idea of working nights, weekends and holidays makes me sad, maybe there is a better way out there somewhere.

I wouldn't mind working with domestic pets, but what I really want to do is help livestock and abused animals. I kind of don't want to help animals that already have a certain standard of living (for example, being a breeder or pet-sitter for animals). I don't know how to do it though. Since I am so hesitant to actually get out there and witness the cruelty I was thinking the only other solution is to work at encouraging vegetarianism and veganism. I am not as interested in conservation of wild animals as I am in not eating them and helping stop cruel farming practices. That seems to be what hits me the most and makes me willing to dedicate my career to help.

I thought long and hard about zoology, but in the end decided I didn't think I could handle the aspect of the prey animals. Plus not exactly sure how I feel about zoos.

Any other ideas would be great- I am trying to settle down on a long term plan so I know what experiences and education I need to get there. Thats what is so frustrating about this whole process.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by BestFaceForward View Post

The vegetarian chef idea is intriguing to me and they have the coolest looking holistic culinary institute in NYC but the cost of the program is $18,000! And I am not sure how to test the idea out before committing myself to it. Also the idea of working nights, weekends and holidays makes me sad, maybe there is a better way out there somewhere.

I wouldn't mind working with domestic pets, but what I really want to do is help livestock and abused animals. I kind of don't want to help animals that already have a certain standard of living (for example, being a breeder or pet-sitter for animals). I don't know how to do it though. Since I am so hesitant to actually get out there and witness the cruelty I was thinking the only other solution is to work at encouraging vegetarianism and veganism. I am not as interested in conservation of wild animals as I am in not eating them and helping stop cruel farming practices. That seems to be what hits me the most and makes me willing to dedicate my career to help.
That is one thing that is sort of bad about any animal related career - you don't have the normal 9 to 5 schedule. Since animals need care, 7 days a week - you will more than likely be stuck working at least one weekend day. I never got a whole weekend off at the zoo (unless I request a day off) - You work eithe Sun-Thurs, Tues-Sat or Thrus-Mon (we rotated these schedules). Although, I didn't care about losing weekends because I loved what I did.

For the chef job, you would definatley end up being there at nights and on weekends (maybe not holidays). After you are in it for a while, you might be able to be more demanding on your schedule.

Helping abused animals can be quite depressing too (for me, I get more pissed off than depressed). Not all abused animals will make it but for the ones who do - it will make you feel VERY good inside when they make good progress and recover!
When I worked at the cat shelter, we had abused kitties coming in and it wasn't pretty - Most made it but a few died. It was very nice when they were adopted out and found loving homes!

If you did animal counseling, you might be able to set your own schedule.

It sounds like you are more of the activist type maybe? I think PETA or Farm Sanctuary might be for you. I think you might end up moving for a job though if you are more specific in what in want to do. There are other places too.

Maybe open your own shelter? (that's a big one I know.)

If I were you, I would start volunteering somewhere - volunteer experience with animals will look good on your resume when you look for a job. The Internship at Farm Sanctuary provides housing and everything. You can do it from one to two months. Might be good to help you decide too?

http://www.farmsanctuary.org/join/intern_main.htm

I thought about applying for the Animal Caretaker since I have enough experience but don't think they have any opening right now (In California).
 

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What about getting into some sort of research? Your psych background would be good for doing something in animal behavior. There's research going on in the field of animal welfare - trying to figure out what makes captive animals happy or not and how to make their lives better.

Or maybe something with wild animals? It doesn't necessarily have to involve animals eating other animals. There are lots of jobs in conservation and wildlife management. That's what I do - and it's really rewarding, at least to me.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by BestFaceForward View Post

Quick snapshot of me: 25 year old female, live in Central NJ about 50 minutes from Manhattan. BA in Psych, work experience is admin (I hate admin btw) and now some website maintenance.

*snip*

work for animal rights group: Farm Sanctuary, PETA and the ASPCA are too far away from my location, Humane society doesn't have positions I qualify for, and would be financially hard to commute to the city every day for an administrative position which I would understand they can't pay me that much
Why couldn't you move? How thorough are your web skills? PETA could probably use those. They're always launching a new site.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BestFaceForward View Post

nutritionist/dietician: this is my current top choice, it would be awesome to counsel people on how to make the transition to vegetarian/veganism but how realistic is this? I would absolutely never be able to work in the more traditional dietician jobs in nursing homes, hospitals, etc. cause I couldn't do it morally.
What do you mean, how realistic? What's not realistic about it? I can't personally vouch for the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, but here are some testimonials. I noticed that there are some vegan graduates who go on to private practice and seem to make a pretty good living.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BestFaceForward View Post

vegetarian chef: is this realistic? I don't have any cooking experience and would hate to get cooking experience cooking with meat, which leaves me limited.
Again, "realistic." Define.

Check out http://www.chefal.org/ and http://www.naturalepicurean.com/ for schools that offer vegan culinary classes.

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Originally Posted by BestFaceForward View Post

own my own vegetarian store/restaraunt: I don't know if this is realistic at this point being I don't have any managerial experience nor do I have capital.
Man, you're your own worst enemy. Stop shooting stuff down! If you want something bad enough, don't you think you have the tenacity and smarts to make it happen?

This one will take time, but perhaps you could work your way up. Start out at the bottom rung, work your way up to manager, and eventually know enough to put together a worthy business plan and team for your own project that you can go out and get financed with all the contacts you've made working your way up.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I guess when I say realistic I mean is it likely I will be able to support myself in this way. I feel like I am walking a thin line between wanting to take a risk with my career and needing to be able to support myself. I am 25 years old, I have household utilities, I want to get married soon, and have a child within 5 years or so, and I don't know how willing I am to go without a guaranteed paycheck every week. I took a class in Small Business Management this past fall so I am trying to fully understand what it means to own a business or my own practice.

For example, to be a nutritionist, I would have to go back to school for at least 3 years (full-time) because there are a lot of required biology classes before you can even begin to take nutrition classes. That would leave at about 29 years old when I would graduate with another BA. (I don't know how I would support my household bills, debt or have a wedding during this time) Then, I would have to find a job as a nutritionist where I didn't have to counsel people on eating meat. I've done some research on what nutritionists do after graduation and the vast, vast majority of dieticians work for institutions like prisons, hospitals, nursing homes, food companies like Kraft or something, etc. Whether I like it or not, and no matter how much tenacity I have, I would be competing to help a small minority of the population (vegetarians and vegans). Is there a market for this? I am not exactly sure of how secure this kind of field would be, and that is what I meant by risky or realistic. And besides that, is it ethical to make my living charging people money to help them be vegetarians or vegans? Wouldn't it be better to make it more financially feasible to help them? I am not sure. I guess when I say realistic I mean, is it so off the beaten path of careers as to be unlikely. I will have to feed my family too, and I also want to be able to help animals as my career. So I am trying to figure out the best mixture of both that I can come up with.

I don't have any education in computers and don't even know html, but in my current job I am able to manage the website by approving new members, reviewing submissions, etc.

I don't know if I could move because I would like to stay close to my family and I don't think my SO would be willing to move. I have been looking at the jobs offered at the ASPCA, which is in NYC, so that is one possibility. I am trying to figure out what exactly I would like to do before applying to any positions yet. Cause if I wind up wanting to go to culinary school for vegetarian cooking, it won't help me to be working in admin.
 

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My suggestions after reading you thread a bit

Opening a veggie cafe or store

Or work as anything for a veggie company ( A veggie or health magazine, a company that sell veggie products ... in marketing... managing... you could work there without having to go back to school and make your way up to the position you are interested in
 

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How about animal behaviorist ala Caesar Milan? The pay wouldn’t be too great—you would probably have to start out working the night shift at PetSmart teaching obedience classes. But maybe you could eventually start your own private consulting service.
 

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Restaurant businesses are extremely risky and capital intensive, so I advise against the cafe idea, they fail very frequently.

I like the nutritionist idea, because I think our society doesn't pay enough attention to proper diet. But I don't know if it is a good risk.

Unless you want a lot of stress in general I'd advise against self-employment, even though I am very in favor of it, it can be very stressful and risky for most people. Best to get experience working in the field of your choice as an employee rather than leaping into a new field as a self-employed person.
 
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