Are there any careers in animal psychology that would pay around 80,000/year in california?

ie: if i were to train people's dogs for proper behavior
train seeing eye/disability/epilepsy dogs
or work literally as an animal psychologist (ie: my dog is depressed. come to my house and figure out what is wrong.)
etc etc.

i will be graduating with a degree in psychology, and have one more year to do internships. i'd love to work with animals in animal psych if possible, but being that i'll be living in california, i want to earn around 80,000 as a base salary in order to support the cost of living out here. a masters in "something" is also an option i'm looking at if that's what would be needed to make that type of salary in animal psych, but i'm not sure if ANY jobs in animal psych would pay that kind of money. i don't want to go past a masters and get a phd.


Sneddon
  • <cite class="sig">YAJAIRA</cite>

    Now, I'm not going to say no, in fact I'm actually going to say yes but I will tell you you probably won't do it the way you think you might, and I'll explain why.

    Let me start by saying that $80,000 figure you have in mind is very high. Most college graduates don't make that their entire career (which also means you don't actually need $80,000 to live in California, your standard of living will just be a little lower. The average household income, is actually less than $80k in California, so I don't see where you got that number, unless you're expecting a very above average lifestyle. That's fine you just can't do that with just a bachelors or a masters in Psych) What I'm trying to say is you'll need an advanced degree since a bachelors degree and a masters degree mean very little in psychology and or zoology (you're not going to make money if you have one of those degrees, and tons of people with masters and PhDs don't even make $80K either.) Luckily for you, the people who do things related to what you want to do can make $80,000 eventually, but they have PhD or a Doctor Of Veteranary Medicine degree. Even more lucky for you, you don't need a masters to get a PhD or a DOVM, it just helps a little. It's actually better to go right from undergrad to a PhD program, or undergrad to internship/research gig to PhD. If you have good marks, good test scores and a good amount of undergrad experience (i.e. undergraduate research, and/or internships) then you can get into a PhD program right away. It also doesn't hurt to be a minority.

    Anyway, trainers don't make that much, unless they're Cesar Milan, and it doesn't matter what kind of dogs you're training. My cousin does this in San Diego. Most trainers (who don't work for petco) own their own business, and make the same amount of money that a school teacher makes, which is nowhere near $80,000. It doesn't matter if you have a masters degree or a PhD or a bachelors either, that's just what they make.

    You could have an animal psych practice (which is basically training) and have animal therapy sessions like people have. You'd have to be really good, better than a trainer and there'd have to be enough of a demand for that service that you can make $80,000. I live in a pretty rich area in California (near Pacific Palisades, Malibu, Beverly Hills, West LA, Hollywood, etc) and I don't think I could find enough people who would do that for their pet (which is saying alot given the social climate there). I mean $80,000 is more than a lot of Psych PhDs make doing counseling. The market just isn't there for it, it's just not worth that much to enough people to make $80,000, unless you're a huge deal, like Ceasar Milan status. Then they're paying for your celebrity, not your expertise.

    Now you could be a university professor and do psych research with animals (research is really what professors do, they just teach class to get steady money), trying to figure out animal behavior. You'd need a PhD for that, and even then, it'd be a while before you could make $80,000. Now if you're a professor and your research is concerned with animal psychology you might actually wnat a Zoology PhD not a Psych PhD or even both. Most of the people I've heard of who study animal psychology are actually zoologists like E.O. Wilson at the University of Alabama (Roll Tide!). So you can do that, maybe do some consulting on the side and make $80,000. I could totally see that, and I know a tenured Zoologist at a well endowed university (lol) makes about 70 or 80 something thousand a year.

    Now here's another idea. The average vet makes about $71,000. You could take some classes in vet school or as an undergrad in animal psychology. You can do vet stuff, take care of animals etc. and do psychology as well, on the side. I don't see why you can't make $9,000 a year doing animal psychology on the side. Who knows, maybe you'll get so good at it that you're the go-to vet for disturbed animals, maybe you'll write books about animal psychology for vets and make a ton of money. Sure you'll do other stuff for animals, that people apparently pay well for already (since the average vet in California makes 71K), but you'll be doing a lot of animal psychology as well. So you go to Vet school, if your Psych is a B.S. program not a B.A. you'll probably meet all the prerequisites and go from there.

    Also, since I'm a mere civilian and know very few people in the field, you might want to take advantage of the fact that you're in college and get some advice from your professors (something I wish I did a lot more of while I was in school.) I bet they'd love to give their opinions on a lot of stuff. Ask them about animal psychology, and getting into a PhD, and whether or not Zoology is a better way to go if you're into animals (since there's a ton of Zoologists who study animal psychology such as E.O. Wilson at University of Alabama)

    Either way, good luck and I hope you find a career you love and make all the money you need.

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