Do You Really Want A Career in Animal Care? Yes, and Here’s Why
You love animals. You always have and always will.
Dumbo was the first movie you cried to and you want to give something back to the creatures that give us so much. The Victorian beard-wearer and all-round natural scholar once said:
“The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man.”
He’s a man who knows his stuff and while a career in animal care can be challenging, both physically and mentally, it is hugely rewarding.
So how do you become employed in the animal care sector? It’s funny you should ask. In this guide we explore the steps to achieving this goal, your likely salary, and whether it can be a viable, long-term career.
Who does a job in animal care appeal to?
Ask almost anyone currently working in this field and they’ll tell you they love animals. That much is certain. The typical candidate for an animal care role is empathetic, full of compassion, and someone who genuinely wants to do something that makes a difference. If you find yourself ticking these boxes and crossing streets to pet cats or dogs, it’s more than likely that this career is for you.
This career can be incredibly rewarding; however, the animal care sector is also challenging, both physically and mentally. An ability to handle dirty tasks, as well as non-compliant animals is a must. Furthermore, a thick skin and an ability not to get attached is also crucial – there will be many positive days, however there is also going to be some that are tough and emotionally charged.
of people in the UK own a household pet – we’re a nation of animal lovers,
so animal care is vital
What qualifications do I need?
According to the National Career Service, run by the UK government (and a wonderful tool for information on any career choice), an animal care worker does not often hold any “set qualifications.” This means that there aren’t any specific subjects that need to be studied. For example, a marine biologist – someone who studies underwater life – needs to be qualified in biology and would be expected to also have studied marine biology at university level. Animal care is an experience-based sector, rather than one driven by studying. Despite valuing experience, degree-level qualifications such as Animal Health & Welfare from the University of South Wales, and the University of Hertfordshire’s Animal Management Foundation course can make your CV stand out and put you one step ahead of competitors.
Remember to pair your relevant animal care courses qualifications with volunteer experience. This means that both practical and theoretical skills are gained together, allowing you to get that first step on the animal care, employment ladder.
What does the salary and progression look like?
National Careers Service estimates that the average salary for those in an entry level, animal care career receive between £11,000 and £15,000 per year. Despite this seemingly low entry wage, those that work in this sector get something more than money – a career that they can love and be proud of.
The options for progression allow both vertical and horizontal progression. By this, we mean that you can become a supervisor or manager, as well as working across to other sectors, for instance training under a vet assistant course to move into vet work. For example, if you become highly experienced in the care of domestic cats in a kennel, you might want to explore the more exotic options, and take an online zoology course to work with the big cats in zoos – those that roar instead of meow.
One unique opportunity that animal care throws up is the option of self-employment. This means taking on several clients, rather than just working for one company. We all have the dream of being able to organise work around a social life, rather than the other way around. Combine this with doing something you can be genuinely passionate about and you’re sure to be winning at life. Picking and choosing different animal welfare projects is certainly an attainable goal. Something perhaps to aim for once a portfolio of experience has been built up.
What are some typical duties that I can expect?
While every facility will require something different from you, there are several jobs that you should expect. According to the National Careers Service some typical duties include preparing food for the animals, communicating with members of the public and cleaning the animal’s enclosure.
If it’s a kennel that you’re thinking of working in, often you’ll find yourself taking dogs for walks to give them the exercise they need to ensure they’re kept healthy.
In 2018, the UK animal care sector was valued at just under
Animals are amazing. It’s why we keep them as pets, sponsor them, and scroll endlessly for cute images of our favourite ones. So, getting a career in the animal care sector is a no brainer. It provides a stable income, but more than that, it provides a feeling of genuine satisfaction and gives you the sense that you’re doing something worthwhile.
What more could you want?