What are transferable skills and why do you need them? What does it mean to be employable today and in the future?...
- Rewarding work for people who love animals
- Can be physically demanding and involve evenings and weekends
- Generally low paid, but with progression routes into related areas like veterinary nursing or facility management
Animal care can be really rewarding work looking after the day to day needs of animals in places like shelters, stables, kennels or animal hospitals.
- Prepare food and feeding, cleaning and grooming the animals
- Exercise dogs in a yard or taking them for walks
- Clean out kennels, pens and cages
- Change bedding
- Look after animals who become ill or distressed
- Answer queries from colleagues and visitors
- Ensure that animal enclosures are maintained
Depending on your role, you may also have to keep records, take bookings and advise owners on how to look after their animals. You may specialise in animal massage or hydrotherapy, working with animals recovering from injury or undergoing treatment for mobility problems.
You may work shifts, including early starts and some evenings and weekends.
Working with animals can involve hard and dirty physical work, and you may work outdoors in all weathers.
You'll need a love of animals, a patient and caring approach, and a willingness to do jobs that are dirty and smelly. There are no set entry requirements, but some employers may ask for qualifications like GCSEs or relevant vocational qualifications.
You could take a college course to get some of the skills and knowledge needed in this type of work, for example a Level 1 Certificate in Introduction to Animal Care or a Level 2 Diploma in Animal Care. You could also consider a T Level in Animal Care and Management, an intermediate apprenticeship as an animal care and welfare assistant, or an advanced apprenticeship in animal care.
Animal care centres will usually ask for some experience, and this can be gained through voluntary work with an animal charity, sanctuary or farm. You can find out about volunteering opportunities in your area from organisations like the Blue Cross, the RSPCA, PDSA, or Cats Protection.
With experience, you could progress to supervisor or manager, or become self-employed, for example dog walking or pet sitting. You could also use your experience to move into other animal care careers, like veterinary nursing.