There are many different vegan jobs where you can help animals, though animal charity jobs are some of the options most directly focused on this goal. For people who want to align their work with their values, they can be very rewarding.
In order to find out if animal nonprofit jobs are a good fit for you, there are quite a few important factors to take into account. We'll cover 2 of them in this article:
6 factors that make for a dream job
Research from career specialists 80,000 Hours on positive psychology and job satisfaction found that two common sense ideas about what makes a “dream job” were probably overrated — how well-paid it is, and how low-stress it is. Instead, they highlighted 6 factors that you should aim for, which we think seem really well-suited to animal nonprofit jobs:
1. Work that’s engaging
It can differ from role to role, but a lot of work in animal advocacy nonprofits is relatively independent, varied, and has clear tasks and feedback. Consider, for example, a campaign manager or a fundraiser who decides which strategies to focus on and then gets to see quite quickly whether their actions have led to change or not.
Engaging work is also deeply connected to what you enjoy doing. Having a job that drives change is good, but if you work in something you actually like, you will feel much more satisfied.
2. Work that helps others
Animal charity jobs can have high impact potential. Advocates are regularly securing big wins for animals. As one example, take the recent promise by the European Commission to ban cages and crates for the more than 340 million caged farm animals in the European Union, which was encouraged by a public advocacy campaign.
We surveyed researchers and other experts in effective animal advocacy about how they thought that “highly competent individuals looking for careers where they can have a positive impact for animals” should divide their efforts between different broad career paths.
They thought that about half of such people should focus on nonprofit careers. We list many important caveats to this in the full effective animal advocacy research writeup, so you shouldn't take the division too literally, but take it as an indication that experts think work at animal charities can achieve amazing things for animals!
3. Work you’re good at
There are so many different types of roles in animal charities to choose from; it’s quite likely that you will be able to find something relevant that you could excel at.
4. Work with supportive colleagues
One amazing thing about working in the animal advocacy movement is that you’ll be surrounded by people who are really passionate about making a difference. There’s a lot of emphasis on sustainable advocacy and our experience is that advocates are often very supportive of each others’ efforts to help animals (although there can of course be in-fighting, too).
5. Lack of major negatives
Many people are looking for vegan remote jobs. One of the biggest benefits of working at effective animal advocacy nonprofits is that you usually don’t have to commute — 68% of the postings to our job board were fully remote, with another 13% being optionally or partly remote.
Our survey research and job board data analysis both suggest average salaries for animal nonprofit jobs in the Global North of around $50,000 per year, which is roughly in line with the average for full-time work in the United States. Nonprofit careers are not the highest paying, but remember that money does less to make you happy than you might think, and the salaries in animal charities seem reasonable.
When interviewing staff at animal advocacy nonprofits for our skills profiles, we asked some how long they worked per week. They all seemed to work 50 hours per week or less, so the hours don’t seem to be unusually long.
6. Work that fits with the rest of your life
Of course, the specifics of your own life and situation will affect whether or not animal jobs will be a good fit for you. But it seems clear that they can be very rewarding and satisfying for many people.
In fact, when we surveyed staff at one effective animal advocacy nonprofit that we were working with, we included questions from an academic scale that has been used to measure whether staff intend to leave their jobs. The answers we received suggested that people were more keen to stay at their jobs than is typical in other organisations. The answers to our questions about job satisfaction were also very positive. This data only comes from one charity we were working with, but our guess is that this is a fairly common experience.
Next steps for working in animal charity jobs
If you already know what sorts of roles you want to apply for and you think that you’ve already got a good chance of being a top candidate for them, you can jump straight to looking for relevant opportunities on our job board.
However, most people probably need to do some planning to work out which types of animal NGO jobs will suit them best and have the most impact for animals. For this, we recommend that you sign up to our free online course which walks you through some of the key considerations involved in working to help animals and helps you to plan your next steps.
Which types of animal nonprofit jobs will suit you best?
If you’ve already decided that animal charity jobs are a good fit for you, you’re still left with another difficult question: which specific types of these jobs will suit you best?
It’s worth bearing in mind that even if you would take any sort of job you were offered in an effective animal advocacy nonprofit, you usually need to focus your efforts — developing skills, writing good applications, and so on — on one or two specific role types. This probably makes it much easier for you to be a top candidate and secure a job offer in the first place.
When you’re trying to work out which types of roles to focus on in order to help animals as much as possible, Animal Advocacy Careers has collected quite a lot of relevant research that can help you decide, with our surveys (2021 and 2020) and job board analysis being the most relevant.
What our research says
If animal charities find it unusually difficult to get strong applications for a particular role type, then this should make you slightly more optimistic that you could be a strong candidate for that role type.
For example, one consistent finding from our research is that effective animal advocacy nonprofits find it difficult to get great candidates for leadership and senior management roles. Roughly, it seems like the more senior the role, the more they struggle. Becoming a senior leader is obviously quite an ambitious goal, especially if you’re relatively early in your career. But if you have at least some reason to think you might be good at managing others — e.g. you have strong people skills — then this evidence should make you more optimistic about aiming towards leadership positions.
Here’s our quick summary of the findings, by role type:
Most difficult to hire for:
Quite difficult to hire for:
IT or software
Campaigns or corporate engagement
Lobbying or policy
About average, or especially mixed evidence:
Technical animal product alternatives work
HR or recruiting
Animal welfare science or veterinary
A bit less difficult to hire for:
Marketing, communications, or PR
Social sciences and strategic research
The missing animal charity jobs
The research above focused on work within already existing nonprofits. An option that this research doesn’t cover is to set up a new nonprofit yourself, i.e. become a charity entrepreneur. This seems especially promising in countries where the animal advocacy community is small or new, such as many countries in Asia, Central and South America, and Africa. Some funders are quite keen to support new organisations in those countries, they just don’t know about enough promising opportunities to fund. We wrote a skills profile with ideas about how you could pursue this path.
How to interpret this evidence
One way to think about this evidence is that you’re finding out how strong the other candidates are: this is important for understanding your personal fit, which affects how much you will be able to help animals through your career.
Another way to think about this is that, if nonprofits find it especially difficult to hire for certain role types, then it will be easier for you to actually secure a role in those types of work. This is only true for any given application round, though. For example, marketing, communications, or PR roles might be easier to find great candidates for than IT or software roles, but they are also a lot more common, so you’ll find more jobs at effective animal advocacy nonprofits that you can apply to if you’re focused on marketing.
This doesn’t mean that you should focus on difficult to hire for role types at any cost, it’s just some additional relevant evidence that you should take into consideration.
This research doesn’t tell you anything about the “impact potential” of the roles. (In theory, it could be the case that a role type with very high impact potential actually just isn’t that difficult to find great candidates for, or that it’s hard to find good candidates for a role type with lower impact potential.)
So, for example, if someone is pretty closely torn between marketing or fundraising jobs, it would be reasonable for them to explore focusing on fundraising first because of this research. But if someone is really fantastic at social scientific research and doesn’t have great interpersonal communication skills, they shouldn’t switch from a research career to focusing on major donor fundraising just because animal advocacy nonprofits seem to struggle more with that.
Next steps for working in animal charity jobs
This research doesn’t give you the full picture. Ultimately, you need to test out your personal fit with different role types and account for a variety of other career strategy factors. If you’d like a guide that walks you through how to do this, we encourage you to sign up for our free online course.
We don’t think that everyone who wants to help animals should work at animal charities, so if you haven’t yet thought very carefully about other vegan jobs like careers in government and policy or careers focused on earning money and donating it to effective nonprofits, then we again recommend that you sign up for our course.
But if you already know what sorts of roles you want to apply for and you think that you’ve already got a good chance of being a top candidate for them, you can jump straight to looking for relevant opportunities on our job board.