In This Issue:
Fur in Your Future?
A Natural Choice
The Vet Set
Dog Days of Summer
Want to be happy in your chosen career? Then you should consider turning your passion into your livelihood. Think about it for a moment. What do you really love? Your skateboard? Then maybe you should open a sports shop. Food? How about becoming a chef or restaurateur. Your dog, cat, hamster, parakeet and pet rabbit? Then it sounds like you might be in the market for an animal-related career. Not all animal lovers have to go to school to become veterinarians. Many varied jobs involve animals and will allow you to make a good living amid fur and feathers. For instance, you might want to explore the care and conservation of wildlife or animal training. Here’s a list of options. Which ones appeal to you?
• Conservation Officer
• Cooperative Extension Agent (related to agriculture)
• Environmental Manager
• Environmental Chemist
• Forestry/Park Ranger
• Interpretive Naturalist
• Natural Resources Manager
• Wildlife Rehabilitator
• Pet Therapist and Psychologist
• Zoo Director
• Zoo Keeper
• Habitat Specialist
Your work may require studies in agriculture and natural resources, environmental sciences, fisheries and wildlife sciences, law, psychology, science technology and veterinary medicine. Take some time to figure out if you enjoy working with animals by volunteering for a 4-H club, the SPCA, a humane society, nature center, park, wildlife rehabilitation facility or zoo.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Commission, veterinary technologists and technicians and veterinarians are No. 13 and No. 18 respectively on the list of the 50 fastest-growing occupations in the U.S. Ever wonder about the difference between these career paths?
Veterinary technicians perform medical tests in a laboratory for use in the treatment and diagnosis of diseases in animals and prepare vaccines and serums for the prevention of diseases. The average annual job openings for vet techs in New Jersey are expected to go from 2,100 in 2006 to 3,000 in 2016. Training for these positions requires a two-year associate degree at a community college. In New Jersey, Bergen Community College, which offers an A.A.S. (Associate in Applied Arts & Science) degree in veterinary technology, serves as the lead agency for the New Jersey Consortium for Veterinary Technician Education offered jointly with the County College of Morris and Sussex County Community College. Camden County College offers a 70-credit program leading to an Associate in Applied Science degree.
Veterinarians diagnose and treat diseases and dysfunctions of animals—they are basically animal researchers and doctors. The average annual job openings for veterinarians in New Jersey are expected to go from 1,600 in 2006 to 2,200 in 2016. Becoming a veterinarian typically takes four to eight years of college to earn a bachelor of veterinary science and animal husbandry or a doctor of veterinary medicine. From there, the career paths are plentiful. Vets can choose to work with small animals like dogs and cats, or livestock and horses and they can specialize in certain disciplines, such as surgery, dermatology or internal medicine. While several colleges in New Jersey offer programs to meet the prerequisites for veterinary programs, students have to travel out of state to pursue the doctor of veterinary medicine degree.
Jacqueline Genovesi knew from the time she was in elementary school that she wanted to become a veterinarian. “When I was young, if you loved animals you became a veterinarian,” she says. “There weren’t all that many career choices.” So during her years at Ewing High School, Jacquie took lots of science courses and worked part-time at different veterinary hospitals, some specializing in small animals and others in larger farm animals, to get as much experience as possible within the vet field. She joined her high school’s hawk-watching club and science club to explore her passion for animals and science.
Jacquie went on to attend Rider University in Lawrenceville, where she joined the pre-med program to prepare her ultimately to attend an out-of-state vet school where she could earn her doctor of veterinary medicine degree. That is, until she realized it was time to make a change. “As I went through school, even though I loved animals I didn’t like being a vet,” Jacquie explains. “I didn’t like dealing with the same thing over and over again—yearly shots, fleas, it was the same routine. I realized that if I became a veterinarian I was going to be bored out of my mind.”
During her senior year of college, Jacquie decided to make a career change. Her acting professor’s wife happened to be head of education at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. “I interned in the education department and fell in love with the place,” says Jacquie, who today, nearly 20 years later, is the Academy of Natural Sciences’ senior director of education. “The teaching programs are so diverse—we work with preschoolers on up. The museum has several different scientists that give talks on their research. There’s so much going on here that it’s like a playground for someone who loves science.”
Oh, and then there are the animals. The Academy of Natural Sciences has a live animal center featuring 100 different animals and 50 different species of birds, mammals, amphibians, bugs, you name it. Jacquie worked for years as a keeper in the center and now incorporates the animals into her educational programs. “I’m half educator, half scientist,” says Jacquie, who has a Bachelor of Science degree in biology, a Master’s degree in environmental education and is currently working toward her PhD in education. “You can do so many things in a museum. People working in my education department have art, history, psychology and education backgrounds. And I’m never bored!”
Read an expanded version of this article by visiting http://www.njnextstop.org, clicking on the Real People column’s Show All feature and selecting “Jacqueline Genovesi.”
While the end of school is fast approaching, that doesn’t have to put an end to your learning for a few months. If you’re interested in a career with animals, now is the time to start doing a little on-the-dog training. Here are some suggestions:
Fetch Some Experience. Research area internships at museums, wildlife centers, zoos and your local veterinary hospital. The more exposure you have to the day-to-day routine, the better you’ll understand if it’s the right career choice for you.
Know the Breed. Not all animal-related jobs are created equal. Do you prefer to work with healthy animals or sick and abused animals? Research different types of animal jobs online and by calling potential employers to know what you’re getting into. Feeding baby birds from an eyedropper at the wildlife center may not be your thing—save yourself some time by learning what certain jobs are all about before you invest your on-the-job energy.
Unleash Your Potential. Sure, you love taking care of your own dog, but how about your neighbor’s pets? Summer is the perfect time to launch your own dog-sitting or dog-walking business. While people head to the beach for vacation, you can step in and fill that void in Fido’s life. You’ll figure out pretty quickly if surrounding yourself with unfamiliar furry friends is a pleasure or a tedious chore. Take some time to get to know their owners, too. After all, your career with animals, especially if you are thinking about becoming a veterinarian, will be as much about communicating with pet parents as four-legged patients.