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You can still use your career to help animals even if you don't work in charities

Want to work somewhere else? That’s okay. 

When thinking about animal advocacy careers, most people typically think about charities. It’s true that animal charities have an essential role in the movement. However, animals need allies in all areas of the world, and it would be a mistake to say that advocacy is limited only to those working in charities. 

There are many cases where individuals can contribute to animal advocacy by taking different roles outside the NGO space (maybe more). Consequently, they can also make a big difference for animals by using their careers. 

We think these different roles can be similarly or even more impactful than working in charities. Additionally, they can significantly widen one's career options, especially for those who prefer not to work in charities but still want to help animals. 

Here are some options that you can consider:

Doing the same things - only outside of charities

Advocacy work doesn’t necessarily have to be done by charities. We can use other platforms to defend animals and raise awareness. For instance, media and academia are such platforms. By working at a media outlet or at a university, you can use your position to make the case for animals. These efforts may even be more impactful, given that you can leverage the credibility and the influence of your institution in your favour. Additionally, many organisations struggle to get mainstream coverage of their work in the media, so having allies in adjacent sectors can be very powerful to accelerate the work of existing NGO’s.

Scientists in universities and institutes can conduct research instrumental in increasing our understanding of farmed and wild animal welfare, as well as finding better ways to help them. 

Another approach is to work “within” the system. Executives and managers in companies that use or sell animal products (or those who provide consultancy) possess great power to make significant changes in their organisations. These changes might include the exclusion of low welfare products such as cage-eggs from their supply chains or the addition of plant based alternatives into their menus. Working within these companies may potentially be more impactful, given the difficulties of influencing them from the outside. 

Positions in the government can also allow advocates to exercise their powers for the good of animals, as well as for the citizens. Government officials, political actors and their advisors can have an incredible impact if they contribute to better animal welfare laws or alternative animal product research and development subsidies. Again, working within the system may potentially be more effective, given the challenges of influencing the government agencies from the outside. These are also valuable skills that advocates can gain that they can bring back to working in NGO’s in the future. Such skills are currently considered talent bottlenecks in our movement.

Companies that aim to replace animal products or improve animal welfare

There are also impactful career opportunities in for-profit organisations. These can provide the same benefits of working for-profit (better salaries or professional development for example), and still help animals just as non-profit organisations. 

Companies that sell alternatives to animal products are the first and foremost example of these for-profit organisations. If successful, they can help animals by outcompeting animal products by catering to consumer preferences such as high quality, affordable prices, and convenience. There are hundreds of these companies worldwide  offering thousands of job opportunities each year. And these typically have a wider range of options: white collar jobs such as marketers, sales, supply chain management, research and development, as well as blue collar jobs such as electricians, drivers, cooks and many more. You can find countless job opportunities on the Tälist job board

Some for-profits also aim to help animals by simultaneously improving workplace efficiency and animal welfare. For example, Respeggt Group is working to end the needless killing of male chicks in the egg industry by selecting male chicks before they hatch by installing in-ovo sexing technology in hatcheries. ACE Aquatec, on the other hand, is working to accelerate the adoption of stunning systems in the aquaculture industry by developing and providing equipment that improves animal welfare as well as producer's interests. 

Earning and giving more 

Finally, you can use your career to earn money and donate to animal charities. You might already have donated to some animal charities. You can have much more impact if you scale it up by using your career to earn more and donate more. 

In almost every career path, there are opportunities for more financial income as you progress. And some career paths can be especially rewarding. Although these careers may seem irrelevant for animal welfare, you can make a huge difference if you channel these resources into the movement. 

As you make progress, you may allow high impact organisations to sustain and expand their efforts thanks to your donations. By helping the people who help animals, you help animals. 

Imagine that you pursue a career in engineering or finance. By actively seeking to optimise your income (without harming others, of course), you can reach a position where you might possess the same or even more power to help animals than you would if you worked in a charity. If you earn more, and donate generously, you can make a big difference for advocacy organisations, and consequently for the animals. 

This approach is also flexible. You can balance your competing goals and preferences and pursue a career path that works for you. You can then donate what you can, without making a huge shift in your career.  

You can read more about this approach in our detailed career path profile.

Adjacent roles as a way to build career capital for future roles  

Work experience in these adjacent roles can also be very beneficial because they can allow you to build career capital that may be useful if you decide to continue your career in advocacy organisations. 

Many advocacy organisations would love to have staff members who know how things work in institutions they want to influence, and who have valuable networks to build and maintain relationships. 

Working in these fields can also allow you to test your personal fit by using related skills and working on similar tasks. If you come to believe you are a good fit, you can make a more confident decision to join advocacy organisations for similar positions. Also, working in these adjacent roles can provide you with a backup plan: in case your future career in advocacy organisations doesn't work out well, you can more easily return to your previous field since you already have the necessary and flexible career capital. 

Concerns and replies 

There may be legitimate concerns about career paths outside of advocacy organisations:

  • Most of these career paths may involve tasks and priorities that do not relate to animal welfare, since these organisations are not animal charities. As a result, your impact on animals may be limited. For example, most academics have various duties like teaching a wide range of topics, publishing scientific articles, completing administrative assignments, and so on. Many of these activities have little value for animals. 

  • Given different priorities exist in different organisations, it may be challenging to use your powers in those platforms for the good of animals. For example, there may be a lot of journalists who are concerned about animal welfare. However, it might be very challenging to convince other decision makers who have other priorities and perspectives about what news to cover and how. 

  • These career paths can be viewed as too indirect and involve too much concession. It may be argued that animal advocacy needs more clear and direct action against existing value systems and institutions. However, these alternative career paths may require to be more “civil” and “nice.” For example, government officials who negotiate better animal welfare standards often have to settle on modest reforms given the pressure from the industry and other levels of the government. 

  • Some of these career options may even involve participating in animal suffering. Working with and within the industry inevitably requires cooperation with the industry in order to achieve relevant goals. This cooperation may involve providing means to the industry that are better than existing alternatives, and yet still involve animal abuse. For example, organisations that develop and supply animal welfare equipment for producers, like electrical stunners, are in some sense providing means to harm animals.  

  • Finally, some of these career paths may get “too comfortable” overtime and lead to complacency. Financially rewarding careers in particular may be highly distracting. As one gets richer, it may be tempting to associate more with the powerful rather than the oppressed animals, and focus more and more on one’s own interest. 


Here are also some reasonable replies: 

  • First and foremost, these are career options. Of course, there are other opportunities (especially in charities) and everyone has the right to choose. However, job opportunities in animal charities are not endless. Most of them are also very competitive and not everyone, especially those who are at the beginning, can easily get in. 

  • Many advocates may have legitimate reasons for not choosing to work in a charity due to their financial situation, relevant skills, or other life goals. But these adjacent career options may be a suitable compromise for many. 

  • We are also not arguing that everyone should work in these adjacent fields or that advocacy charities should be abandoned. The point here is that advocacy charities and the movement in general can benefit from these adjacent fields, too, and they can work together to achieve change for animals. 

  • Charity work and direct advocacy alone may find it difficult to achieve progress. As all animal advocates realise, there are many challenges before animal liberation. In many cases, charities are less powerful than the institutions and prejudices they are struggling against, and they need help from other sources.  

  • Platforms and organisations outside of animal charities, can reach people or fix bottlenecks that charities cannot. Although working at these platforms or organisations has its own challenges, the upsides may outweigh them in many instances. 

Finally, and most importantly, all career assessments depend heavily on personal fit. We do not argue that these options are best for every single animal advocate, and that everyone should agree with these routes to impact. However, these may be good options for some people who want to help animals in different ways. That’s why we encourage people who want to use their careers to help animals to seriously consider these options too. 

If you are unsure about opportunities inside and outside the movement and would like a personalised 1:1 call, you can sign up here 


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