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Go to the dogs: 5 job ideas

A pet project can fetch extra cash, or even lead you to a new career.

By Stacy Johnson Aug 27, 2010 1:05PM

This post comes from Stacy Johnson at partner site Money Talks News.


Of all the luxuries and necessities we're willing to sacrifice when times get tough, our beloved pets are rarely among them. Sure, there have been some stories during the recession about "pet dumping." But there's been just as much research the other way, including this study from the American Pet Products Association that shows more than 80% of pet owners haven't changed their spending habits at all.


Can man's best friend lead you to a new career? Watch the following news story -- my white Lab puppy, Lola, has a cameo at the very beginning -- then meet me on the other side for more. 

The women in the video were making a decent living from pets. And, as I said above, this business is recession-resistant.


"Pet owners will cut back in their personal lives before scaling back on their four-legged friends," said APPA president Bob Vetere. "This is the primary reason that the pet industry continues to remain strong."


Strong enough, in fact, that jobs to take care of pets are actually increasing. At least, that's the prediction from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.


Here's what it found: In 2008, 220,400 Americans were working in the animal-care field, ranging from dog groomers to pet sitters. (Those stats also include animal trainers like those at Sea World, but those numbers are tiny by comparison.) By 2018, the bureau estimates a 21% increase, to 265,900.


"The need to replace pet sitters, dog walkers, kennel attendants, and animal control and shelter workers leaving the field will create the overwhelming majority of job openings," the bureau said in a recent report. "Prospective groomers also will face excellent opportunities as the companion dog population is expected to grow and services such as mobile grooming continue to grow in popularity."


Best of all: "Many animal caretaker jobs require little or no training and have flexible work schedules, making them suitable for people seeking a first job or for temporary or part-time work." Sadly, the pay isn't so great. In May 2008, the median annual wage was only $19,360, and the top 10% earned just over $31,590.


Still, you can make decent to excellent money per hour in these jobs:

  • Pet sitter: The pay may not be stellar but the overhead is low because you're caring for these animals in their own home. Here's what some pet sitters say they make, with $600 a week being quite possible for part-time work. For more details, check out the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters.
  • Dog walker: According to Professional Dog Walkers, you can earn up to $3,600 a month. But the biggest challenge is networking to drum up the business. You can use websites like to help you there.
  • Pet groomer: Some groomers can make six figures a year, but it takes money to make that much because you have to invest in the equipment. The fastest-growing part of the field is  mobile grooming, and that adds gas, car insurance, and maintenance to the expenses. The National Dog Groomers Association of America has the details.
  • Pet masseuse: You can make money, but it'll take not only money but time -- you need to be trained. You'll help pets, especially older ones, that have chronic pain or are recuperating from surgery and injury. Learn more from the International Association of Animal Massage & Bodywork.
  • Pooper scooper: Yup, you're picking up dog poop. And yup, there's even an organization for that. It's called aPaws -- the Association of Professional Animal Waste Specialists. Some members boast they make $100,000 a year for this unpleasant task.

More from Money Talks News and MSN Money:

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