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Great Jobs for Animal Lovers

Passionate about pets and looking for a little extra cash?

4. Dog walker

The nitty-gritty: Expect to walk in all kinds of weather at least twice a day. The trek can take a degree of fitness and physical strength, depending on the size and demeanor of your charges. It’s not unusual to walk more than one dog at a time, if you have the dexterity for it. Be prepared to handle an unexpected injury and even pull out a nasty tick. And, of course, pooper-scooper duties go with the terrain.

Median hourly pay: $8 to $37.50 with experience, according to PayScale.com.

Qualifications: If you own a dog yourself, or have been a dog owner in the past, you know the drill. It requires an ability to stick to a schedule and an easy manner with pooches of all personalities. This word-of-mouth business can be bolstered by good relations with veterinarians in your town or pet shops and grooming salons, who will pass along your card and contact information to their clients. DogWalker.com, an online directory of dog walkers around the country, offers educational resources for those starting out.

5. Veterinary technician

The nitty-gritty: If you love animals, have an aptitude for science and the willingness to go back to school to ramp up the necessary skills, you’ve got a great chance of landing a job — especially if you live in a rural area. Employment of veterinary technicians is expected to grow 52 percent from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook. Working alongside primarily small animal vets, duties might include preparing pets for surgery, performing lab tests, administering medication and vaccines, emergency nursing care, collecting blood and samples, and the more mundane tasks of recording pet histories and weighing your sometimes nervous patients.

Median hourly pay: The median annual wage of veterinary technologists and technicians was $29,710 in May 2010, according to BLS. PayScale.com sets hourly wages at $9.40 to $17.71 and up to $27.62 per hour overtime.

Qualifications: Veterinary technicians usually have a two-year associate’s degree in a veterinary technology program. In 2011, there were 191 veterinary technology programs accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Most of these programs offer a two-year associate’s degree for veterinary technicians. Although each state regulates vet techs differently, in general, you must take a credentialing exam — the Veterinary Technician National Examination. Because you’ll often be the intermediary between the veterinarian and the pet owner, clear and calm communication skills are essential.

Kerry Hannon is the author of What’s Next? Follow Your Passion and Find Your Dream Job.

Next: 5 great home-based businesses.

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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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