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Working with Animals

By: Lucy Debenham BA (hons) - Updated: 25 Feb 2024 | comments*Discuss
Career Change Animals Career Change

If you are interested in working with animals, there is a wide range of career options open to you. Some positions involve working directly with animals, while others are based in an office. From veterinary careers to kennel management, you are likely to find a career that fits your interests and skills.

Many animal-related careers are open to people who are in different stages of preparation – from those with related degrees and school leavers with some animal experience to mature individuals with general work experience and life skills. This is truly an area where aptitude, interest and commitment count for something.

Getting Started

Some animal-related careers do require specific training. For example, if you want to work in the veterinary field, you'll need to excel in A-Level subjects like Chemistry, Biology and Physics. Getting in some Work Experience around animals is a good idea. After that, there is a five-year university course to be completed, so you need to be serious about changing careers to become a vet. Upon completion of your education, you will be qualified to work in private practice, public health or even in the army.

Before you begin the rigorous process of formal training, you may want to take stock and see if you've really got the temperament for veterinary work. Some aspects of this career can be messy and unpleasant. For instance, you may be required to make decisions in the midst of distressing situations. You should also have a genuine concern and passion for the welfare of animals. It's also vitally important that you don't suffer from animal allergies. Working with animals as a veterinarian requires long hours and you may be on call throughout weekends and evenings.

Other Opportunities

Of course, there are many other careers that offer the opportunity to work with animals. Perhaps working as an inspector for the RSPCA would be a better fit for you. RSPCA inspectors investigate animal cruelty complaints, offer advice on the care of animals, carry out animal rescues, inspect different animal-related establishments, and perform enforcement duties. You can apply for RSPCA service with a minimum of 5 GCSE A-C passes/O levels and relevant experience. New inspectors embark on a 12-month training program when hired.

Dog lovers in particular have many options open to them, and can choose from a wealth of rewarding careers. If you want to Work From Home, you may want to consider dog home boarding. Dog trainers are often self-employed as well, so can enjoy job benefits like flexibility. For those who love spending time outdoors, dog walking has become a popular career choice.

One growing sector of employment includes various animal behaviourists. You may find opportunities for animal psychologists or pet behaviour counsellors. Regardless of the title, these jobs are concerned with diagnosing and treating behavioural problems in animals. Both domestic pets and zoo animals are treated for conditions such as phobias or aggression.

If you've ever thought of a career change that involves working in a zoo, you might be surprised at the opportunities available. There are about 350 zoos, parks, gardens and aquaria in Britain employing as many as 3,000 people in full-time positions. Zoo jobs range from animal husbandry to zoo keeper. Zoo personnel are responsible both for the animals in their care and the public who comes to visit them.

What Skills Do I Need?

Employers will be looking for strong commitment and desire, and a willingness to work long hours and on weekends. Entry requirements vary, but five GCSEs and natural sciences will give you an advantage over other applicants. Another outstanding way to get started and improve your chances for employment is to obtain the Level 1 NVQ in Animal Care.

These are only a few of the many opportunities for working with animals in the UK. The good news is that almost every type of job can be sampled on a volunteer basis. Not only will that give you a hands-on trial to determine if the job is really for you, it will also provide invaluable experience that could very well ensure an offer of employment if you choose to move ahead.

Further Reading

For more information on working with animals, read our Q&A How Do I Find A Career Working With Animals?.

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[Add a Comment]
Good Morning. I am 55 years old and have been working in social care for the last 12 years. I have always loved animals and have a high regard for them and would like to be able to promote them by working with them in some way. I am based in Sherburn in Elmet near Leeds. I have a good around education with GCSE 7+ 2 A levels above a C and a Uni BA degree. I would love to work in a Zoo or wildlife park supporting animals in some way. Would you be able to offer me some advice on training and possible job opportunities if there are any? Thank you. Kind Regards Richard Parry
Rich - 25-Feb-24 @ 10:11 AM
I am working in the NHS and I have been thinking about a change and I really think I would love to work with animals.I am a country girl but not sure which way to turn
rachet - 8-Apr-20 @ 9:57 AM
Hi , Im 38 and so bored in my current office job. Ive always wanted to work with animals but life got in the way and ive ended up stuck in a office job since my college days where i did Health and Social Care. Ive now reached a point where i just want to work with animals now and leave my job im so fed up with it. So ive no idea where to start and was wondering if anyone has any advice? I would ideally prefer to work in the veterinary field or with Horses and train at the same time. I dont to have to stay in my office job whilst training . Is there anything out there for some one of my age where i can train and be paid like an apprenticeship? Any advice would be much appreciated. Many thanks Chrissie
Chrissie - 17-Feb-20 @ 8:36 AM
I would love to work with animals I have had loads of pets I have been a rabbit judge i have a dog and cat they are old and have cancer
love animals - 8-Sep-15 @ 10:19 AM
I turn 50 this year and am fed up with working with damaged humans within the social work field. I had a stroke 4 years ago and am partially disabled. Always had a love of animals. Would like to spend the remainder of my life working with them as I know that not only would the animals benefit, my over-all well-being would improve. I look forward to hearing from you. Louise.
Lou Lou - 20-Jan-14 @ 2:38 PM
looing for work with horses or dogs im 59yrs im fully trained as a dog trainer i also ave my own 2 horses if you can help i would be gratefull
none - 17-Mar-13 @ 10:00 AM
to reynolds when I was 14 I went to college to do animal care one day a week while i was studying at school I done a course called increased flexibility small animal care until I was 16 you should look at colleges near you and see If they have an animal unit and call them good luck :)
Rebecca - 8-Oct-11 @ 1:30 PM
I am 14. and I'm really passionate about working with animals hands on. can you tell me different career paths I can take and how to get into them. also what grades you need to have. because I'll obviously try my best but I'm not really smart like other people
Reynolds - 10-Apr-11 @ 12:11 AM
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