22 Sep Top Horse Careers (That Actually Pay Well)
Horse Careers That Pay Well
To all those horse-crazy people out there, this article is for you! I’m sure at one point or another, every horse person has dreamed of a future career that required them to work with horses. When it comes time to decide what you want to do with your life, the world of horse careers can be very disheartening; it’s very competitive and the expenses usually outweigh the revenue.
So, what are the best horse careers to pursue? Here’s a list of careers in the horse industry that you can make good money from:
- Equine Chiropractor
- Equine Veterinarian
- Equine Vet Tech
- Equine Massage Therapist
- National Park Ranger
- Mounted Police Officer
- Equine Social Media Influencer
As someone who’s been around long enough to discover some great horse careers that actually pay well, I wanted to make a list for your readers in order to encourage you and point you down a path that will help make your dreams come true. Without further ado, here’s a list of the top horse careers that actually pay well:
Average Annual Salary of an Equine Chiropractor: $50,000 (source)
What Does an Equine Chiropractor Do?
An equine chiropractor is a skilled professional who works on and studies a horse’s musculoskeletal system. This particular system plays a large part in how the horse’s body moves. This incorporates bones, joints, and connective tissue.
Chiropractic work is a great natural way to solve many problems in your horse’s body. Sometimes the horse’s skeletal structure can become misaligned, which can cause pain in the body. Chiropractors work to realign the horse’s structure.
Believe it or not, equine chiropractors have become more and more in-demand. As horse owners are starting to look for a more natural way to treat problems with their horse, they’re turning to chiropractic work. I’ve seen chiropractors been used on top-notch jumpers to cutting horses in the rodeo. No matter the discipline, horse owners are seeking out equine chiropractors to help their horses.
How do You Become an Equine Chiropractor?
Equine chiropractors have to first either be a chiropractor who works on humans or a veterinarian. Because of this, quite a lot of schooling is required to be an equine chiropractor. Another thing to keep in mind is that equine bodywork laws differ by state. Depending on the state you’re in, you may not legally be able to perform chiropractic work on a horse.
With all this in mind, here’s how you can become an equine chiropractor:
- Click here to see the legal requirements for performing equine massage in the state you live in. While many states don’t enforce these specific laws, some do!
- Become a licensed human chiropractor be earning a Doctor of Chiropractic Degree and then getting licensed in your state. (click here to see a list of colleges that offer chiropractic degrees)
- OR become a veterinarian by getting a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Degree and getting licensed in your state. (Click here to see a list of schools that offer degrees for equine medicine.)
- Take specialty schooling to be qualified to perform equine chiropractic work.
- Get certified by the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association
As you can see, a lot of work goes into being an equine chiropractor. Nonetheless, the knowledge, ability to help horses, and, let’s be honest, the paycheck, make it all worth it.
Pros of Being an Equine Chiropractor:
- Contributing to the horse’s welfare
- Working with horses in many different disciplines and in many different environments
- You can give advice to horse owners concerning their horse’s work or living habits
- Showing people that natural methods of treatment work
Cons of Being an Equine Chiropractor:
- A lot of schooling is involved
- Equine bodywork laws differ state to state
- You will travel to nearly every client
If you’ve never seen an equine chiropractor at work, I recommend calling one out for your horse. Notice the specialty they have as well as how it makes your horse feel so much better!
Average Annual Salary of an Equine Veterinarian: $90,000 (source)
What Does an Equine Veterinarian Do?
An equine veterinarian is a doctor who manages and contributes to the health of a horse. They provide medical services and can advise the horse owner on general healthcare for the horse. These professionals can do anything from routine equine health exams all the way to performing surgeries.
Something that makes most equine veterinarians different than other veterinarians is that they specialize in just one particular animal and most of them travel to reach the client instead of the other way around. Horses are big creatures that can be a pain to transport, especially when they’re dealing with a health problem. Because of this, equine veterinarians have adapted to better serve the client and the horse.
If there’s one conception that comes with horse ownership, it’s that there will be vet bills. Horses require routine and regular visits from the veterinarian to ensure that they’re staying in optimal health. Because of this, equine veterinarians will always be a career in high demand.
How do You Become an Equine Veterinarian?
Becoming an equine veterinarian demands a lot of hard work and dedication. Like any doctor, having the correct training and schooling can go a long way in the success of treating your patients. Being an equine veterinarian means keeping up with the latest medical technologies and discoveries that can better help to treat your patients.
Here’s how you become an equine veterinarian:
- Complete your undergraduate science degree
- Complete 4 more years of school to receive your Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Degree (click here to see schools that offer equine veterinarian programs.)
- Get Licensed to practice in your state
Becoming a veterinarian is a long process, but all for good reason. It’s important that you’re really passionate about helping horses if this is the career path you’re going to take. You may find that you have to remind yourself of this on those days when classes and assignments feel endless.
Pros of Being an Equine Veterinarian:
- You get to help horses!
- There are many areas of the industry that you can specialize in (like surgery, breeding, or chiropractic)
- Help people understand how to better care for their horse
Cons of Being an Equine Veterinarian:
- You have to be on call 24/7
- Years of school are required
- There’s a lot of travel involved
- Has to see the good, the bad, and the ugly of equine life
As an equine veterinarian, your job contributes to someone’s happiness. Nothing makes a horse owner happy than seeing their horse healthy. This is the thing you must remember on long days, sad moments, and enduring school years.
Equine Vet Tech
Average Annual Salary for an Equine Veterinary Technician: $46,000 (source)
What Does an Equine Vet Tech Do?
An equine veterinary technician is basically a nurse to the horse world. They assist the veterinarian in checking over the horse, collecting vitals, taking x-rays, standing by in surgeries, and a whole big list of other things. Equine vet techs can not, however, perform surgery, diagnose a problem, or prescribe medicine.
If you want to contribute to the welfare of horses but don’t want to go through years of school, then being an equine veterinary technician may be the perfect career choice for you. Working so close with veterinarians must be a great experience, and you’ll get to be the one to handle the horse during procedures.
Growing up in Virginia, a vet tech always traveled with my veterinarian. They were always there to lend a hand when needed, handle the horse if something went awry, and overall just be a nice presence.
How do You Become an Equine Vet Tech?
Becoming an equine veterinary tech is much simpler compared to becoming a veterinarian. For one, less school is required; this means you can go into your vocation much more quickly. You can find many courses at community colleges that will help you to become a vet tech. This will save you from the worry of student loans and financial aid.
Here’s how you can become an equine vet tech according to chron.com:
- Get an associate’s degree (2-year degree)
- Work under a local vet to complete your degree
- Get licensed to work in the state you live in.
- Get certified by the American Association of Equine Veterinary Technicians and Assistants
- Take continuing education classes
Veterinary technicians will get many hours of hands-on experience to help them prepare for this career. This will also give them a chance to see if they’re really cut out for such work. In a profession where you’re solely there to take care of the animal, it’s no secret that you can get pretty attached. This can make it harder for vet techs when horses pass away or have other problems.
Pros of Being an Equine Vet Tech:
- Much less school required than a veterinarian
- Hands-on training
- Internships help to place vet tech students in jobs before they even graduate
- Contributes to the welfare of the horse
- Get to work very closely with veterinarians
Cons of Being an Equine Vet Tech:
- Must keep up with continuing education
- Has to see the good, the bad, and the ugly of equine life
I’ve never talked to an equine vet tech who didn’t love their job. If you’re serious about going into a career that helps horses, this is a good option for you.
Equine Massage Therapist
Average Annual Salary of an Equine Massage Therapist: $60,000 (source)
What Does an Equine Massage Therapist Do?
An equine massage therapist is a skilled professional who works on and studies a horse’s muscular system. An equine massage therapist is to horses as a masseuse is to humans. Much like an equine chiropractor, this career has become more and more in-demand due to horse owners looking for a more natural way to approach their horse’s health issues.
Today, horses are still considered working animals. They’re trained to compete, trail rode for miles, or used for hours at a time in lessons. Now, what would happen if a human did all that? We would get sore! Well, the same thing happens to horses. This is when an equine massage therapist can come in to relieve the tension in the muscles, help circulation throughout the horse’s body, and overall contribute to the general welfare of the horse.
How do You Become an Equine Massage Therapist?
In the United States, a college degree is not required to become an equine massage therapist; however, you do have to be certified through a credible training course. I completed my course through Equissage. Depending on the state you live in, there are certain laws as to whether you can even perform equine massage therapy or not. Here’s how you become an equine massage therapist:
- Click here to see the legal requirements for performing equine massage in the state you live in. While many states don’t enforce these specific laws, some do!
- Find an accredited course in order to get certified in equine massage therapy. (see here)
- Once you’re certified, you’ll want to create a business an market yourself to the local horse community.
- Create a personal presentation for your clients; you want your appearance to be professional and you want to walk your clients through what you’re doing to their horse.
Plant yourself in an area where the horse industry thrives. Not only will there be plenty of potential clients, but horse people definitely prefer word-of-mouth, so your name can get passed and you can get some referrals.
Pros of Being an Equine Massage Therapist:
- You get to be your own boss
- You contribute to the welfare of horses
- Depending on how you market yourself and the location, this could easily be a full-time job
- You’ll get to work with many different horses competing in many different disciplines
- You can keep furthering your schooling by getting certified in different massage methods
Cons of Being an Equine Massage Therapist:
- Depending on the state, the practice of equine massage can be limited to certain criteria.
- You have to careful to not diagnose a problem in a horse, as you are not a veterinarian and cannot legally do so.
- You will be doing a lot of travel to and from clients
To those who want to help horses but don’t want to go through years of school, being an equine massage therapist is a great option. I will say, becoming an equine massage therapist is much easier if you’ve been around horses awhile. You’re able to see movements in their body and muscles that someone less familiar wouldn’t be able to see.
Average Annual Salary of a Farrier: $50,000 (source)
What Does a Farrier Do?
A farrier is a skilled professional who particularly works on and studies horses’ hooves. A horse’s hooves are constantly growing, and just like our fingernails, they have to be trimmed every few weeks. A farrier also shapes and molds shoes to fit a horse’s hooves. They can provide corrective shoeing that will help to alter the horse’s conformation. All-in-all, every horse on the planet needs its hooves cared for, so I’d say it’s an in-demand job.
Horses’ hooves require trimming every 4-8 weeks depending on the horse, the terrain they live on, and the season. If you’re a horse owner, then you can testify that you get to know your farrier very well since you get to see them so frequently.
As a farrier, you can inform your clients about any issues that the horse’s hooves may be experiencing. Not only will you be called to trim or shoe a horse, but you may also be called to give advice about hoof abscesses or thrush treatment. Overall, farriers are considered trusted individuals within the horse community.
How do You Become a Farrier?
In order to become a farrier, good schooling is a must. So much of the horse’s health depends on the care of their hooves. If you don’t have a properly trained eye to recognize balance and health in the hoof, you could easily put the horse in jeopardy.
When done correctly, hoof trims and shoeing can improve the horse’s circulation, help the horse walk more easily, and even correct conformation problems in the horse’s body. In order to be a farrier that can actually help horses, it’s important that you find a good school.
Here’s how you can become a farrier:
- Find an accredited farrier school (click here to see a list of accredited schools)
- Once you complete the course, get an apprenticeship
- Get certified as a farrier
- Market your business to the horse community
Like I mentioned earlier, as long horses are around farriers will be needed. This job ain’t going nowhere.
Pros of Being a Farrier:
- In-demand job
- Farriers will be needed as long as horses are on Earth
- You get to contribute to the welfare of the horse
- You’ll get really good at doing squats and wall-sits
- You’ll build great relationships in the horse community
Cons of Being a Farrier:
- Can be physically taxing on the body
- Have to be on call 24/7 for emergency hoof issues
- A lot of travel is involved
When it comes to the people that horse owners trust the most, the first would be the vet and the second would be the farrier. If you become a farrier, there’ll be many people relying on you to help their horse’s hooves be healthy. This is very much a job that has a people aspect just as much as a horse aspect.
National Park Ranger
Average Annual Salary of a Park Ranger: $45,000 (source)
What Does a National Park Ranger Do?
A national park ranger is basically the caretaker of a national park. There are many national parks in America, like the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Glacier National Park to name a few. These professionals are usually offered a variety of ways to patrol the parks; one way, in particular, is by horseback.
If you’re all about trail riding in some of the most beautiful and wondrous places in America and playing in the great outdoors, then this career may be a great option for you.
For the most part, yes, this career seems like it would be a blast, that is if you like being outside and being by yourself a lot. However, you will still be acting as an authority of the law, meaning you’ll have to deal with people who don’t necessarily have your best interest in mind. You’ll also be called upon for search and rescue missions that happen within the park.
How do You Become a National Park Ranger?
To me, being a national park ranger seems like a dream job. Not only are you out in the great outdoors on horseback, but you also receive tactical training, zoology, ecology, and forestry knowledge, and even survivalist know-how.
Here’s how you can become a park ranger:
- Meet prerequisite requirements (minimum age, high school graduate, pass a background check and drug test.)
- 2-year degree required. (Look for degrees specifically in zoology, biology, ecology, botany, forestry, park management, or criminal justice.)
- Get work experience by working/volunteering in local and state parks. 1-year experience required.
- Apply for a national parks job. Have specific parks in mind that you would like to work in.
- If accepted, complete any training that may be required for the job.
When it comes to being a national park ranger, I can’t guarantee that there’ll always be a horse involved. However, there seems to be plenty of fun out of the saddle as well!
Pros of Being a National Park Ranger:
- You get to work outside in some of the most beautiful places in America
- You get to basically trail ride a horse on patrol
- You’ll have multi-faceted skills that make you the ultimate survivalist
Cons of Being a National Park Ranger:
- You have to work in horrible weather
- Have to deal with criminal activity and fatalities in the park
- Will work on holidays
- You won’t always be on a horse
I like to assume that most horse people are also outdoors people, and this is why I included this job on my list. Not only do you get to ride through miles of trails in the national park, but you also get an equine friend as your partner!
Mounted Police Officer
Average Annual Salary of a Mounted Police Officer: $50,000 (source)
What Does a Mounted Police Officer Do?
A mounted police officer is simply a police officer on horseback. Many police departments will use horses for patroling beaches, parks, and events. Mounted units are also used to de-escalate riots or perform search and rescue missions.
This is not a career choice to take lightly, as a mounted police officer still deals with all the same things that a normal police officer would deal with. My dad was a state trooper for over 30 years, and let me tell you it takes a very specific person to be able to do this job.
In the messiest of things, mounted units will be used to de-escalate riots. Horses can be very intimidating and their size and power make them ideal for pushing through crowds or creating boundaries. Horses used for the mounted unit are some of the best-trained horses you’ll ever find. They’re taught to deal with chaos and crowds all while completing the job at hand.
Nevertheless, being a mounted police officer is also a great way to ride a horse every day while also being able to make relationships with people in the community. Everyone wants to pet a horse; these animals play a great part in bridging the divide between police officers and citizens. They give people a chance to interact with the police on a more personal and casual level.
How do You Become a Mounted Police Officer?
If you want to become a mounted police officer, you still have to meet the requirements that all other police officers have to meet. Most police departments require at least a few years of service before you can even apply to be on the mounted unit. Nonetheless, if you want to help your community while riding a horse, this may be the perfect job for you.
Here are the steps to becoming a mounted police officer according to study.com:
- Meet prerequisite requirements by being over a certain age, being a high school graduate, passing a drug test, having a clean background check, and passing a physical exam.
- Go to the police academy to train to be a police officer; this training is usually around six months.
- Complete your time of required service before you can join the mounted unit
- Apply for the mounted unit team and get accepted
- Go through horseback training (even if you know everything about horses)
When you’re on a mounted unit, you’re partnered with a 1000lbs+ animal. You and the horse you ride will spend a lot of time together patrolling, performing crowd control, and joining search and rescue parties. The bond you’ll form with your equine partner will be that of no other.
Pros of Being a Mounted Police Officer:
- You get to ride a very well-trained, specialized horse
- Every day will be different
- The horse will help you form relationships with the community
- You’ll have an equine “partner”
Cons of Being a Mounted Police Officer:
- You can find yourself in violent and dangerous situations
- You’ll witness the bad side of society
- There will be a lot of paperwork
If you’re going to be a mounted police officer, or an officer of any kind for that matter, you have to want to do it in order to serve and protect your community, not just because you want to ride a horse for your job. Otherwise, this career could easily be too much to handle.
Equine Social Media Influencer
Average Annual Salary of an Equine Social Media Influencer: $0-$1,000,000+
What Does an Equine Social Media Influencer Do?
An equine social media influencer is someone who uses social media platforms to influence followers towards a specific trend, product, or topic in the equine world. Careers like this have taken off with the popularity of the internet and the rise of social media platforms. Going forward, this career option will be around for as long as the world has internet.
This career choice is definitely riskier than all of the above; however, it doesn’t require any specialized schooling, skill, or age range. Literally, a 13-year-old could be a social media influencer. We’ve all seen these people on Instagram who have hundreds of thousands of followers and all they do is post a picture of them with their horse.
As someone who works in marketing, I can tell you that becoming an equine social media influencer won’t be easy; it’ll take months or even years of hard work or dedication. If done right, the profits from this career choice could be through the roof, and all it took was spending time with your horse and documenting it on social media!
How do You Become a Social Media Influencer?
Becoming an equine social media influencer is relatively simple while also demanding a strict routine and style. Here are some steps to keep in mind if this is something you want to pursue:
- Find a social media platform that caters to your niche of horseback riding. Right now, Youtube and Instagram are great channels for this.
- Study social media influencers who are successful in your niche and see what makes them that way. Take note.
- Create a posting schedule; the more regularly and the more frequently you post, the more people will see your content. This means more likes, more subscribers, and more followers.
- Use the same filters on the majority of your content; this will make your channel look more uniform, clean, and professional.
- Engage with your audience; the more you build a relationship with the people following you, the more you’ll appeal to the masses.
- Once you’ve gained a good number of followers, start monetizing your channels. This could be through ads, ambassadorships, or sponsorships.
When it comes to being a social media influencer, perseverance is key to success. Because of my job in marketing, I’ve researched many successful influencers to see what exactly made them successful. A similarity between them all was that they continued to regularly post, communicate and run their platform even when views were slim.
I’ve seen influencers who’ve been on their platform for 5 years before they really took off. One reason many people don’t succeed at becoming a social media influencer is that they get disheartened when the success isn’t immediate. In order to succeed at this, you’ll need perseverance and patience!
Pros of Being a Social Media Influencer:
- Potential to make a ton of money
- You get to be your own boss
- You basically get paid to spend time with your horse
- Sponsorships mean that you’ll get a lot of horse products for free
- This job will be in demand as long as the internet is around
Cons of Being a Social Media Influencer:
- Success is not immediate
- In the beginning, you’ll be putting in a lot of work for very little reward
- It could take years to find success
- Requires a continuous stream of content to be put out for the audience
It’s awesome to live in a generation where we can make money online simply by spending time with our horses. You may as well take advantage of this opportunity and see what will come out of being an equine social media influencer.
If you’re horse crazy and want to work with horses for the rest of your life, then you’ve come to the right place. Check out our article 12 Reasons You Should Own a Horse.
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I’m a lifelong horse trainer and horseback rider who’s passionate about teaching others about the things I’ve learned. I grew up competing in numerous English horseback riding disciplines and am now a certified equine massage therapist. I currently own three horses.