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20 Best College Degrees for Animal Lovers

Written by College Cliffs Team At CollegeCliffs.com, our team, comprising seasoned educators and counselors, is committed to supporting students on their journey through graduate studies. Our advisors, holding advanced degrees in diverse fields, provide tailored guidance, current program details, and pragmatic tips on navigating application procedures.

Reviewed by Linda Weems I got started researching colleges and universities about 10 years ago while exploring a second career. While my second career ended up being exactly what I’m doing now, and I didn’t end up going to college, I try to put myself in your shoes every step of the way as I build out College Cliffs as a user-friendly resource for prospective students.

Updated: May 23, 2024, Reading time: 19 minutes

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“Do what you love, and you will never work another day in your life.” People who are animal lovers and work with animals sum up what they do for a living in this sentiment, and all the right reasons!

Research shows that animals can have a positive effect on people. Interacting with animals, especially pets and other interesting and pleasant animals, benefits our mental health. Working around them is no different!

College Cliffs is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Job Outlook

Interestingly, college degrees that lead to jobs around animals do not have as many takers as others, leading to popular career paths like Accounting, IT, Game Development, or Education. Because of their low enrollment rate, careers relating to animal care and service are consequently projected to grow at a much faster rate in terms of worker demand.

There is also an expected rise in disposable income opportunities, especially for millennials, such as eco-tourism and bee-keeping. Due to the lack of skilled workers, some of such jobs’ median pay rates are higher than the national average.

College Degrees for Animal Lovers

Beware: If it has Teeth… It can Bite!

If you’re an animal lover, chances are you have thought about earning a college degree that lets you put your passion into practice. A word of caution: not all of these degrees lead to experiences with cute puppy paws; some lead to jobs that can be quite risky—especially when dealing with angry cows or lethal animals.

So, it’s important to assess and be aware of the specifics of the degree and occupation/s you are looking into. But just the same, real animal lovers would attest to the fact that there is nothing quite like the fulfillment that being around them brings.

With that said, animal-related college degrees can sure be fun and practical for you, and here we are giving you some animal-related degree options.

20 Best College Degrees for Animal Lovers

Animal Biology

If you are looking into becoming a veterinarian working on farms, Animal Biology could be an excellent pre-veterinary course for you.

It deals with the biological processes of animal classes in a general manner during the first year and then gets more specialized as your level of education progresses.

As an animal biology student, you will familiarize yourself with animal body parts and learn about the importance of animal nutrition.

Animal biology tends to focus more on hands-on activities, like real fieldwork at a conservation park. Its more popular relative, Animal Science, has a lot more chemistry and lab work and lesser fieldwork.

If you want to work out in the open fields or plan to work in an environmental capacity, Animal Biology will open doors of opportunities for you.

Animal Science

If working in an animal hospital or becoming an urban veterinarian is something you are deeply interested in, Animal Science is the way to go. Think of this degree as the usual pre-med course—but for animals.

Students learn about the most recent animal diseases and the latest technologies for diagnosing and treating animals.

This degree can lead to a veterinary technician path immediately after graduation or with some certifications, depending on your state. Think of a veterinarian technician as a nurse, while the veterinarian is the doctor.

Also, this course is a great preparatory course for a Master’s in Veterinary Science. With an emphasis on technology and scientific principles, a degree in Animal Science is intellectually stimulating and financially rewarding.

There will also be lectures on inorganic chemistry and a little bit of physics and engineering, as this degree primarily deals with expertise and innovation.

Ecology

An ecologist deals with fauna and flora, so a student who loves plants and animals will enjoy both their course and post-graduation career. As an Ecology student, you need to be prepared for a lot of Biology lessons and discussions relating to animal behavior and environmental laws and regulations.

Ecology is essentially studying how living organisms interact with the environment and with each other from an ecosystem and biosphere perspective, so a lot of fieldwork is to be expected.

Travel for research is also pretty common, which can be a plus for those who enjoy occasionally leaving the office or the laboratory.

Generally, Ecology graduates work for non-profit organizations or conservation agencies, but businesses that hire ecologists also offer the biggest job opportunities. Ecologists also find their place in the business community pretty easily.

When mining corporations and similar businesses require environmental reports, ecologists are hired to ensure that the company strikes a balance between complying with environmental rules and profiting.

Marine Biology

Water encompasses at least 70% of the Earth’s surface. Many businesses operate in the oceans not only for food and tourism but also for oil and mineral explorations—all of them requiring the expertise of marine biologists. Eco-tourism has seen tremendous growth in the past five years.

Governments and businesses have seen how the abundant water ecosystem translates to a healthier community and a profitable business. Job prospects include:

Marine Biology, as a degree, also includes Biology, Chemistry, and Physics in its academic curriculum. The study material largely focuses on aquatic ecosystems. Today, students are educated from a more holistic perspective as they gain insight into how flora and fauna on land affect the sea.

Interestingly, more than 80% of underwater “remains unmapped, unobserved, and unexplored.” What lies beneath our oceans is the great unknown, and driven by the search for knowledge and resources comes more jobs for marine biologists.

Fisheries and Aquatic Science

A big part of the modern human diet consists of fish, oysters, lobsters, and other seafood. However, fishing in the ocean can deplete the natural wildlife ecosystem.

Also, fishing is like hunting; the harvest is never predictable. To minimize ecological effects, fisheries operate like a sea farm: they focus on providing more than just seafood and pearls for jewelry and seaweed for manufacturing purposes as an alternative to plastic and as fertilizer for crops.

The role of Aquatic Science, on the other hand, deals with living organisms both in water and on land. This field of study ensures that water for marine life is at its proper nutrition and sanitation levels.

Fisheries and Aquatic Science students are exposed to the principles of Marine Biology while also tackling the business side.

Lessons will include determining the chemical composition and regulating food temperature while also gaining knowledge of operational logistics and business regulations. Economics, especially sustainable practices, is an important part of the curriculum as well.

Wildlife Conservation

Wildlife Conservation has driven immense interest lately from both the public and private sectors. Various organizations worldwide work hand in hand to ensure that endangered and at-risk species have a chance at survival.

Protected areas and nature conservation parks play a key role in ensuring the preservation of what remains of certain animal species.

With the rise in awareness of animal and wildlife protection, the number of jobs requiring specialists in this field has also climbed. Wildlife conservation projects include:

for species that are at risk. There are also efforts focusing on dams, fisheries, Antarctic and Arctic expeditions, and forest and mountainous ecosystems.

Wildlife Conservation students not only learn about the biology of specific animals but also gain insight into ecosystems.

Most importantly, they are taught to hone their administrative skills as Conservation Management has become immensely instrumental in ensuring the operational stability of conservation efforts. Geography, Economics, and Logistics all play a key role in protecting wildlife; the curriculum also includes Biology, Chemistry, and Ethics.

Wildlife conservation also allows graduates to gain in-depth expertise in their field of specialization, which is why those who pursue Graduate Studies have better chances of promotion to a higher management rank.

Animal Behavior

Ever wanted to be an animal trainer? How about a journalist or researcher with a genuine interest in the animal species and the methods and factors affecting their movement to different areas?

If observing, documenting, and researching how animals behave sounds like a great way for you to spend time, a degree in Animal Behavior get will lead you to jobs that offer a sense of fulfillment.

Animal Behavior graduates can become pet psychiatrists if they want to remain mostly in the city. If you’re an outdoor lover, you can opt for a career as a wildlife journalist or researcher who is always on the move.

You can also choose to be in the equine industry to pacify, train, and care for the welfare of horses and work for related non-profit organizations. There are also a lot of opportunities to be on fieldwork.

A big part of studying Animal Behavior deals with biology, psychology, Neural Sciences, and even Organic Chemistry. Also, many Zoology and Ecology principles come to mind if your field of expertise is animal habitat and their impact on the behavior of living organisms.

Animal Behavior students also dig deeper into local and international laws and treaties on animal conservation and evaluate how they are applied on the organizational front. Animal breeding, reproduction, as well as evolution, are also routinely studied.

Lastly, Anthropology and Sociology are a big part of the curriculum because it is a proven fact that humans impact their ecosystems most profoundly, affecting all the other species.

Zoology

Biotechnology has started to gain traction in the last few decades, both as a field of study and a business endeavor. Biotechnology takes into account the principles of Zoology, which, in turn, creates a high demand for zoologists.

Zoology, a degree, deals with the physical characteristics of animals and the treatment and control of the animal population. Animal sanctuaries, government agencies, and non-profit organizations are the usual employers.

However, industries that do not involve animals in their operations or objectives, such as chemical, pharmaceutical, logging, mining, and petroleum businesses, also hire zoologists for ecological reports.

Zoology students will have their analytical skills tested as they tackle the dwindling population of animals and study resource extraction with minimal impact. They also focus heavily on the following:

Botany, Anatomy, and Chemistry are also fundamental areas of study. All in all, Zoology as a field of study requires quite a lot of paperwork and readings than Animal Behavior.

Problem-solving skills prove to be extremely important for zoology students. In their line of work, they deal with case studies while also overseeing the execution of strategies and ensuring that they are neither costly nor impractical. Zoology graduates are also tasked to familiarize themselves with the management side of things.

When studying zoology, students also learn about key management concepts. This is because, in the workplace, they are tasked to manage both people and spearhead projects.

They also hold key positions that require them to deal with both authority and subordinates while complying with regulations at all times.

Environmental Science

Does your heart bleed for every injustice done not just to animals but also to Mother Earth? A degree in environmental science can open the doors to a financially stable and life-fulfilling career.

Primarily known as an interdisciplinary course, Environmental Science provides graduates with the necessary skills and credentials to work in many fields. This degree covers nearly all STEM course subjects, which is also a plus:

Environmental Science graduates often become sustainability consultants, environmental engineers, and scientists and researchers. If you like a more business-related career path, you can become an environmental consultant who also functions as a compliance officer.

Also, a lot of environmental science graduates become town planners for the government. Some work closely with pharmaceutical companies and manufacturing factories as toxicologists. A few become landscape architects for resorts and hotels.

Environmental Science graduates become environmental education officers, water quality scientists, and nature conservation officers in government agencies.

Waste management systems also have a big demand for environmental scientists, and so do other organizations that deal with conservation.

Veterinary Biomedical and Clinical Services

In Veterinary Biomedical and Clinical Services, you will learn how to treat different animal species correctly and how to heal them if the need arises; and keep them healthy according to their unique needs.

O*Net Online said careers in veterinary medicine or veterinary technicians have a very bright outlook, with a growth of about 10% in the coming decade. 

To become a veterinarian, you must have a graduate degree, while veterinary technicians and assistants can easily secure a career with a bachelor’s or associate’s degree.

If you have plans of becoming a veterinarian, and you love the idea of working in a clinical setting, your desire to look after and work with animals has to be strong.

Compassion and people skills are critical in this line of work because you will be dealing with animals, which can both be emotional and stressful

Pre-Veterinary Medicine

This is the course of study that prepares you for admission to veterinary med school. The program is not a major, per se. It is rather a guiding principle in education to further increase your chances of getting admitted to veterinary schools.

To apply to a vet school, it’s best to meet with your pre-vet advisor during your freshman year, considering that getting into veterinary medical schools is very competitive. It’s best to start planning your pre-vet curriculum with this in mind. 

Pre-veterinary medicine programs generally vary among colleges and universities. There are institutions where you can earn your bachelor’s degree in pre-vet medicine, while certain schools require their student to obtain a degree in veterinary science or veterinary technology with a specialization in pre-veterinary medicine. 

Veterinary Medicine

Also called veterinary science, veterinary medicine is a medical specialty that deals with the control, prevention, diagnosis, and disease treatments for domestic and wild animals and the prevention of transmission of diseases coming from animals.

Veterinarians are there to ensure there is a safe and stable food supply for people, and they do this by closely maintaining and monitoring the health of food-producing animals. 

Aquatic Biology

This is somehow the same as Marine Biology, where you study the behavior and ecology of animals, plants, or microbes that live in water. But instead of focusing on saltwater, majors in aquatic biology study freshwater, such as:

You will also learn all the aspects of freshwater life: from algae to plankton to salmon. 

Graduates of aquatic biology majors can pursue ecology-related careers. For instance, you can conduct biological surveys, work on preserving and conservation of natural resources, write environmental impact statements, and conduct water quality control studies.

Equine Science

Equine studies are concerned with the treatment, breeding, and upkeep of horses. Horses in the domain of equine science can be used for various purposes, including sports, entertainment, and labor.

It is common for students to study more than just horse biology. Indeed, many degree programs include equine management business aspects such as sales, pricing, marketing, and facility management.

Agricultural Management

College Degrees for Animal Lovers

Agricultural degrees are sometimes referred to as “farm management” or “agribusiness management.” This degree program entails managing farms and businesses under the agriculture category. So if you are interested in agriculture and/or have a good background knowledge of business management and agriculture, this degree should suit you well.

You can choose from a variety of degrees for this line of work: bachelor’s, master’s level, and associate degrees. Economics and biology will be a significant part of the curriculum. This degree program is quite broad, so you may work with the following:

Amongst many others. Agriculture work may also include customer service, operations management, technical, and other labor-related roles. This degree can help you land jobs as:

Poultry Science

College Degrees for Animal Lovers

Poultry science is a close neighbor of agricultural management and also has aspects of wildlife conservation and biology. In this area, you will be studying and focusing on poultry production, food safety, the manufacturing of poultry products, and poultry farm processes.

Colleges that have a Department for Poultry Science can help you pursue a B.S. in poultry science degree; where you can choose to go for either:

Careers in poultry science also include:

and so much more.

Poultry careers are also responsible for extra income and job opportunities for a significantly large number of rural populations. 

Exotic Animal Training and Management

College Degrees for Animal Lovers

If you’ve always been passionate about uncommon or strange animals, then this is for you. Since this degree focuses on the management and care of domestic and non-domestic animals, you will be working in close proximity to them.

You will gain meaningful hands-on experience handling animals for animal parks, aquariums, sanctuaries, zoos, and the like. This degree also applies and combines knowledge in areas of animal husbandry and zoology. Careers in this degree include:

Courses under exotic animal management and training may be taught at animal facilities such as zoos with the help of certified trainers.

Although it is recommended to pinpoint the handful of schools that offer this degree program since exotic animal training programs are quite tricky to find at the college level, and there are also no online programs because of the hands-on nature of animal training.

Wildlife and Fisheries Biology

College Degrees for Animal Lovers

The Wildlife and Fisheries Biology program is focused on the biology, ecology, management, and conservation of various animal populations that range from species suitable for fishing and hunting to threatened and endangered species. In this major, you will be learning about practices and policies that significantly affect animals.

For pursuing jobs in this area, of course, a graduate degree is very important to state agencies, federal agencies, and private industries. Courses under this will apply ecology and techniques for balancing populations and provide enriching hands-on experience through fieldwork.

It will also include interdisciplinary wildlife science, which will provide a background for a wide variety of positions related to wildlife and fisheries. 

Dairy Science

College Degrees for Animal Lovers

Dairy Science concentrates on the management and maintenance of dairy animals, food technology and safety, and the production of dairy products we enjoy today, such as cow’s milk, ice cream, and cheeses. Coursework under this degree includes: 

Dairy science graduates can work in dairy and allied fields. They can pursue a variety of careers in agriculture, dairy plant management, veterinary school, dairy foods, and even education.

There are certainly ways to land a job that keeps you close to animals and works for their welfare. Choose the best college degree that best aligns with your skills while also satisfying the animal lover in you.

College Degrees for Animal Lovers

Key Takeaways

In conclusion, obtaining a college degree for animal lovers can provide numerous opportunities in various fields related to animals. Whether it be working directly with animals as a veterinarian, zoologist, or wildlife biologist, or advocating for their welfare through careers in animal law or education, a college degree can equip individuals with the necessary knowledge and skills to make a positive impact in the lives of animals.

Furthermore, the college also provides a platform for individuals to network and connect with like-minded individuals who share the same passion for animals. With the growing demand for professionals in the animal industry, pursuing a college degree can lead to a fulfilling and rewarding career for animal lovers.

It is imperative to choose a college and program that aligns with one’s interests and career goals, as well as continually striving to expand one’s knowledge and skills through further education and experience.

Overall, a college degree for animal lovers not only benefits the individual but also contributes to the betterment of animal welfare and conservation efforts.

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