How To Find Animal Shelter Jobs Near Me: Volunteer + Paid

So, you’re a dog (or animal) lover and you want to work or volunteer in an animal shelter, or start a career in animal care! Good news: there are plenty of animal care positions available throughout the U.S., especially if you are willing to dedicate some volunteer hours to get your foot in the door. 

Animal shelters, in particular, are always looking for new volunteers and animal care professionals to join their teams. More than 6 million companion animals are surrendered to local animal shelters and humane societies each year, and those millions of dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, and other pets need round-the-clock care. 

If you’re eager to devote your time to caring for shelter animals or other people’s pets, you’ve found the right place. This guide includes an overview of paid and volunteer positions available at shelters, tips for starting your animal care career, and resources to help you find open animal care positions in your area. 

Animal Shelter Jobs

There are two main types of animal shelter jobs: volunteer and paid. Volunteer jobs are usually unpaid, but they offer valuable experience and skills that can help you in your future career. Paid jobs are more competitive and require more qualifications, but they also offer more benefits and opportunities for advancement. Here are some tips on how to find both types of animal shelter jobs near you:

– Volunteer jobs: The easiest way to find volunteer opportunities at animal shelters is to visit their websites or social media pages. There you can find information about their mission, vision, values, and needs. You can also see what kind of tasks they need help with, such as cleaning, feeding, walking, grooming, or socializing the animals. Some shelters may have online application forms or contact details for volunteers. Others may require you to visit them in person or attend an orientation session. Make sure you follow their instructions and requirements carefully. You should also be prepared to commit to a regular schedule and follow their rules and policies.

Animal Shelter Jobs - volunteer

– Paid jobs: The best way to find paid jobs at animal shelters is to use online job boards or search engines. You can use keywords such as “animal shelter”, “animal care”, “animal welfare”, or “veterinary” to narrow down your search. You can also filter your results by location, salary, experience level, or education level. You should also check the websites of local or national animal organizations, such as ASPCA, Humane Society, or Best Friends Animal Society. They may have job listings or links to other shelters that are hiring. You should also network with other people who work in the field, such as veterinarians, animal trainers, or rescue groups. They may have insider information or referrals for you.

 Animal Shelter Jobs

Types of Jobs Available at Animal Shelters

No matter your skill set, there’s a place for you in the animal care and rescue industry. Shelters need people from every walk of life and professional background to pitch in, and we really do mean every walk of life. Everyone is welcome and needed, so don’t stop yourself from pursuing this line of work because you think your skills won’t be “relevant.” 

There are almost innumerable jobs and tasks to be done in animal care and rescue, but we’ve focused on some of the most common and concrete volunteer and paid positions. No matter your background, experience, or skills, there’s something to do for everyone.

Volunteer Positions

Animal Shelter Jobs - Volunteer

Volunteer jobs at animal shelters are unpaid but often require only a few hours of commitment per week. Some volunteer positions are more labor-intensive, but even if you only have time to volunteer for one weekend a month, your help will still be appreciated and useful. 

  • Adoption Counselors assist adoption managers and other staff by getting to know certain available animals, speaking with prospective adopters, reviewing and responding to adoption applications, and communicating all necessary information to adoptive families before bringing home their new pooch. This is a great position if you love talking to people, and want to help dogs find the perfect forever home. 
  • Adoption Events Volunteers attend meet-and-greet events where adoptable dogs can meet attendees in search of a new pup. These events serve as a chance to show off adoptable dogs outside of the shelter, socialize adoptable dogs, and raise awareness for the rescue organization.
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Animal Shelter Jobs
  • Animal Behavior & Socialization volunteers work in collaboration with animal trainers and behaviorists to give dogs the appropriate training, play time, or socialization. Volunteers in these positions should have a basic knowledge of canine body language, and be able to work independently and with a team/mentor.
  • Dog Walking is a fantastic entry-level volunteer position or opportunity for volunteers who don’t have much time to spare. Dog walkers may volunteer as little as a few hours a month, and are tasked with taking dogs outside for walks. This serves as a chance for the dogs to unwind, sniff, and go potty, and a chance to further socialize and assess the dogs.
Animal Shelter Jobs
  • Reception & Guest Services volunteers often have experience in administration or enjoy organizational tasks, data entry, and talking to people. In addition to welcoming prospective adopters, volunteer receptionists may also check people in, take IDs, file adoption paperwork, or perform intake services.
  • Social Media & Marketing are key for shelters trying to connect to potential adopters, but they may not have the ability to hire social media or marketing managers full-time. Instead, many shelters and rescues recruit social media-savvy volunteers to post cute photos, share event details, and respond to comments among other key online marketing tasks.
Animal Shelter Jobs
  • Veterinary Support volunteers have some level of experience in veterinary care or are certified vet techs/veterinarians who want to lend support to animal shelters as a volunteer. Volunteer veterinary support staff may assist with administering medication, taking notes for veterinarians and vet techs, supporting staff during veterinary outreach events, and more.

Paid Positions 

Animal Shelter Jobs

If you’re interested in dedicating your work hours to the animal care and rescue industry, animal shelters also hire paid part-time and full-time staff. Here we’re focusing primarily on in-shelter positions where hands-on work with pets and people is involved.

  • Adoption Managers oversee and participate in everything involving animal care and adoption. These team members make regular rounds of the animals, checking to endure basic health and welfare protocols are being upheld for every individual. They may attend training and behavior sessions to assess new and resident animals and enforce safety and operational procedures for employees and visitors. Adoption managers may also help to assess adoption applicants, organize and oversee adoption volunteers, and work directly with animal caretakers, trainers, and the veterinary team.
animal shelter jobs
  • Animal Caretakers oversee feedings, routine cleaning, intake, outtake, and general daily care of all shelter animals. Often these duties are split between dogs and cats, so animal caretakers will supervise one or the other. Duties include cleaning kennels, feeding, giving medication, organizing equipment, proper labeling and signage of pets, and overseeing the transportation of animals going to and from events, medical appointments, etc.
  • Custodians do the essential work of keeping animal shelters clean. Whereas animal caretakers clean the kennels and interact with the dogs, custodians are tasked with keeping the rest of the facility clean. Hallways, bathrooms, common and adoption areas, office spaces, etc., are the responsibility of the custodian.
  • Animal Trainer/Behaviorists assess adoptable dogs to determine their needs (e.g. no cats) and provide one-on-one and in-group training for adoptable and already adopted dogs.
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animal shelter jobs
  • Owner Surrender Support employees work with people that need to surrender their pets. This position requires a kind, patient manner, and good attention to detail. In addition to accepting surrendered pets, the duties of this position also include administrative tasks, interacting with potentially distressed people and animals, and fulfilling specific organizational obligations.
  • Veterinary Teams at animal shelters include veterinary care assistants, veterinary technicians, veterinarians, and other veterinary care specialists. These team members perform basic wellness exams, administer vaccines and medication, perform spay/neuter services, implant microchips, and more. 
animal shelter jobs

How To Apply for Animal Care Jobs Near Me

Once you’ve pinpointed a few positions you think you might be able to do or would enjoy, it’s time to find a shelter and apply! We recommend starting at your nearest animal shelter, animal care and control facility, or private rescue. All of these organizations post job openings on their websites and on common job-listing websites like Indeed and ZipRecruiter.

Just go to Google and type in animal shelter near me.

Like any other job, the process of applying for a volunteer or paid position with an animal shelter may include:

  • Application
  • Interview
  • Background check
  • Orientation

Other Animal Care Jobs: Beyond Rescue & Adoption

Working in animal rescue can be super rewarding, but it can also be emotionally draining, and it’s not for everyone. If you still want to work in animal care but don’t want to work at a shelter, check out one of these animal care jobs.

  • Pet Sitter / boarding. You can make upwards of $1000 per month by hosting dogs in your own home or going to someone else’s home. This works really well if you already have a work from home job, so this is just extra money. The best website to sign up with is Rover.com. Most people start getting booking right away (if you live in a busy area) and Rover takes less commission than some of the other sites. Learn more about becoming a pet sitter.
Become a sitter on Rover
  • Animal Control Officers may respond to calls regarding stray animals, respond to complaints regarding domestic and stray pets, and catch and transport strays to animal control or local shelters. To see what it’s like to be an animal control officer, watch this. I Was An Animal Control Officer For The Day.
Animal Shelter Jobs
  • Dog Groomers bathe, brush, dry, and groom dogs (and cats) both for their health/comfort and for aesthetics. A job as a dog groomer may require time in a grooming education program or as a groomer’s apprentice.
Animal Shelter Jobs  - grooming
  • Doggy Daycares hire people to work as handlers, administrators, management, custodians, and more. This can be a great chance to work hands-on with dogs while also providing an important service to busy dog owners.
animal  shelter jobs
Source: Brown Dog Lodge
  • Pet Hotels and boarding facilities care for dogs and cats for a few nights, days, weeks, or even months while their owners travel, undergo medical treatment, move to a new home, etc. Pet hotels hire people to walk dogs, run daycares, perform feeding and cleaning tasks, watch dogs overnight, and much more.
  • Dog Walkers make home visits to take other people’s dogs out for walks during the day. This job involves transporting yourself between residences, safely leashing and walking dogs, communicating with their owners, and more. You can sign up to become a dog walker through Rover.
animal shelter jobs- dog walker

Resources for a Career in Animal Care

Ready to get started? Follow these links to start volunteering or working with…

  • ASPCA (volunteer or find a career) The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is a national organization that offers various careers in animal welfare, such as veterinary nurse, kennel technician, animal control officer and more. You can browse their job openings and apply online.
  • PackHire: PackHire is a job search engine and recruiting service that connects pet lovers with careers exclusively in the pet industry. It has a wide variety of animal-related job listings, including positions at animal shelters, zoos, veterinary clinics, and pet stores.
  • Animal Jobs Digest has a search feature where you can search for any type of job relating to animals. 
  • Rover.com This may be the fastest path to making money in the pet care industry plus you’re building your own business and don’t need to wait to be hired. If you like dog walking, pet sitting, or hosting dogs in your own home this could be for you.
  • Indeed Indeed is a popular job search engine that allows you to filter your results by keywords, location, salary and more. You can find many jobs that involve animals, such as veterinary technician, animal care attendant, zookeeper, wildlife rehabilitator and more. You can also read about the primary duties, education requirements and average salaries of each job.
  • HumanePro – Interested in working on behalf of animals? Already in the field, but want to learn something new? Discover new career opportunities in animal welfare across the United States by searching the job listings below or filtering by category or location.
  • NCC (UK): NCC is an online learning platform that offers courses and qualifications in various fields, including animal care. You can enroll in courses such as animal psychology, dog grooming, veterinary support assistant and more. You can also get advice on how to get a career working with animals and what skills and qualifications you need.
  • Stacker: Stacker is a website that provides lists and stories on various topics, including careers. You can find a list of 25 jobs where you get to work with animals, such as marine biologist, animal trainer, pet photographer, wildlife veterinarian and more. You can also learn about the education level, experience level and median salary of each job.
  • Trade-Schools.net: Trade-Schools.net is a website that helps you find vocational and technical schools in your area. You can explore different careers with animals, such as pet sitter, dog walker, animal shelter worker, pet groomer and more. You can also learn about the training options, certification requirements and career outlook of each job.
  • LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a social media platform for professionals that also has a job search function. There are many animal-related job listings on LinkedIn, especially for veterinary and animal research positions.
  • PetJobs: PetJobs is a website specifically for animal-related jobs. It has a wide variety of listings, including positions at animal shelters, zoos, veterinary clinics, and pet stores.
  • Animal Advocacy Jobs: AAC speeds up the end of unnecessary animal suffering* by matching people to roles that help animals most.​
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