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How do I Find a Career Working with Animals?

By: Lucy Debenham BA (hons) - Updated: 10 Jul 2012 | comments*Discuss
Working With Animals Animals Work


Hello, I am 36 years old and I am thinking of a career change. I am a qualified nursery nurse and have a BTEC National Diploma in Forensic Science and Criminal Psychology. However, I would really love to work with animals. I do not wish to become a vet, but I would like to work closely with animals.

Could you please advise me the best way to go about this.

(Mrs Julie Mcneil, 30 September 2008)


There are many different ways to work with animals, and the job you apply for will depend on your career prospects and the time you have to dedicate to this kind of career change. There are different levels of expertise needed for working with animals, and even when applying for a job with basic animal handling you will probably need to have some experience under your belt in order to be considered.

It is also more likely that if you wish to work with more exotic animals, such as those found in a zoo or safari park, you’ll need to undertake a period of study to gain a relevant qualification as this sector is extremely competitive. Working with more ‘common’ domestic animals, such as work that involves handling dogs, cats and other popular pets is less competitive, but experience will still count where your employability is concerned.

Your best bet is to perhaps undertake some Voluntary Work at first – working in animal sanctuaries and shelters will give you an insight into the day-to-day activities involved in handling animals. The more experience you can build up, the more impressive Your CV will look when applying for jobs working with animals.

There are so many other opportunities to work with animals, from training working dogs such as ‘seeing dogs’ for the blind, police dogs and pet dogs, to dog, cat or horse behavioural psychologist to a plethora of ways to work with horses. There are many practical NVQ qualifications and degrees, such as natural sciences and animal husbandry, that are available to help you change your career path.

Some of these qualifications can be undertaken on a part-time basis, but in some instances the degree might be restricted to a certain geographical location in the UK. This may limit your choice. If you’re hoping to study locally, check out your local college. If there’s an animal sanctuary or safari park that you’ve got your eye on, why not contact the human resources department and have a chat to find out their preferred route of employment. With proof of dedication and a passion for working with animals, you may be lucky enough to find a job that supports training while you earn. The possibilities are endless.

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Baz I am in pretty much the same position as you I am 36 and hate my career and desperately want to change but can't find a way into a new career - unable to fund retraining but frustrated at having to do what I do every day, its so difficult.
Totes - 10-Jul-12 @ 4:38 PM
Hello , I'm 36, I've trained and worked as a mechanic since leaving school. The pay is poor, and you get treat like crap, you have to buy all your own tools which through the years can amount to a fair few thousand pounds, rant over. I want to change career but I feel so trapped and ground down I'm struggling to decide what to do . I was thinking of a career in mental health , working in a zoo , or something to do with fishing. I'm not sure why I struggle to decide what to do but any help or advice would be gratefull , thanks .
baz - 6-Jan-12 @ 6:46 AM
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