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Great Jobs for Animal Lovers

Passionate about pets and looking for a little extra cash?

2. Pet groomer

The nitty-gritty: Primping a pooch (or cat) runs the gamut from bathing to nail-trimming and brushing, to cleaning ears and clipping coats. You’ve got to be detail-oriented and love the down and dirty work. It takes some stamina, too. The work can include kneeling, bending and lifting. The end result is worth it when you tie that bright bow on a collar and see the owners' smiles when their pal rushes out to greet them. You might work out of a kennel, pet shop, your own home or even a mobile grooming van.

Median hourly pay: Payscale.com reports salaries can range from $14,137 to $48,537. Add in commissions and that figure can top $60,000. Hourly rates: $7.76 to $17.80, but an experienced groomer might earn $25 to $30 an hour, grooming eight to 10 dogs per day, according to Waitkus.

Qualifications: Although pet groomers typically learn by training under the direction of an established groomer, they can also attend one of 50 state-licensed grooming schools, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s Occupational Outlook Handbook. The length of each program varies depending on the school and training offered. The National Dog Groomers Association of America offers certification as a groomer and can provide a list of state-licensed schools.

3. Pet sitter

The nitty-gritty: There’s nothing quite like going to work where you’re welcomed at the door with a wagging tail — and maybe even a tennis ball to toss. Dog sitting can demand some extra oomph if daily exercising is on your list of chores. Otherwise, preparing meals and filling water bowls, feeding fish, hamsters and gerbils, and scooping out litter boxes are your basic duties — along with spreading around special love and attention. But it helps to have a cool head and to be able to act quickly in an emergency — if, say, Rover eats a pan of brownies. With animals, unexpected emergencies do occur, and you’re handling a big responsibility when caring for someone’s family member. You might be hired for overnight stays at a client’s home, bring the pet to your home or simply make house calls. There are several ways to troll for gigs. Depending on your location, there might be a local pet-sitting company hiring workers. More than likely you will be a sole operator marketing your services via local vets and pet stores and satisfied customers. Summer vacations, spring breaks and holidays are peak demand times.

Median hourly pay range: According to PayScale.com, hourly pay can range from $5.21 to $29.59. The charge for a single visit to a pet, however, can range from $10 to $22 and up, depending on the location, and $45 or more for overnight care.

Qualifications: The main requirements for this kind of work are a rapport with animals and a reputation for being dependable. You might consider joining the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters. The roughly 8,000-member trade association offers a certification and national listing service searchable by ZIP code for pet owners looking for a reliable sitter. If you're interested in becoming certified, the association offers a certification course online. In addition, you might want to look into pet-sitting insurance and bonding coverage. For a list of insurers to research, go to the Association of Pet-Sitting Professionals site.

Next: If you enjoy a bit of exercise, this job will be a breeze. »

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Dogs are the most popular pets and one-third of owners say they exercise with their four-legged friends, according to an AARP Bulletin survey. Watch

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