A psychology degree can prepare you to work with animals that help people deal with mental illness.

Often when students think of animal-related careers, they envision a veterinarian. However, numerous other exciting and challenging opportunities abound, including jobs in ecology, environmental science and even law. A variety of college majors in the sciences and other fields help prepare students for these diverse, animal-related careers.

Molecular Biology

A degree in molecular biology -- a science that includes a close analysis of concepts such as genes, DNA and cellular processes -- can prepare you for a career working with animals. Biology is a good undergraduate degree choice for aspiring veterinarians as well as for students seeking careers as livestock breeders or marine biologists. Depending on how you specialize your studies, the job options will vary. For example, if your degree focused on marine animals, you would be well-suited for work with ocean and water animals.

Ecology and Environmental Science

Ecology and environmental science deal with more than just plants; these majors provide good insight into animals, too. Studying ecology and the environment requires understanding how animals interact with their surroundings. This "big picture" view prepares you to deal with animals in their natural environments, including jobs such as game wardens, aquarium directors and wildlife biologists.

Law and Legal Studies

Law and legal studies also can prepare you to pursue a career working with animals. Significant parts of federal, state and local laws deal with animal-related issues, such as animal cruelty, veterinary regulation and legal issues surrounding farm animals. Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, Ore., and other colleges offer an animal-law specialization. If this is your interest, you should spend your undergraduate years preparing for law school while expanding your knowledge of animal issues.

Psychology Tailored Toward Animal Studies

Most psychology majors focus on issues related to the human brain, but many of the skills learned are easily transferred to other animals. Some schools, including Eastern Kentucky University, recognize this interchange and offer animal studies degrees as part of their psychology departments. Such degrees offer insight into animal behavior, which, in turn, can lead to careers as animal trainers and pet behaviorists. A psychology degree also might lead to a career in animal-assisted therapy, where companion animals help heal humans with mental illnesses.