How to Get a Job in Animal Care

Do you have a passion for working with animals? Or spend your days dreaming of being surrounded by cats, dogs, and many other four-legged creatures? Venturing into the field of animal care can be an incredibly exciting and rewarding experience. Not only can you help to nurture and care for sick or injured animals, but you can also assist in the protection, grooming, and rehoming of domestic and exotic animals alike.

What Careers Can You Pursue Following an Animal Care Course?

Completing an online animal care course can open many doors and opportunities for you to work with animals. From training big cats in zoos to rescuing animals from violence and abuse to helping sick pets get better to handling animals on film sets, when it comes to animal care, no day is truly the same.

Yet, which route should you explore? Well, this will greatly depend on where your interests and talents lie.

Take the following top animal care roles:

  • Zookeeper: Imagine being able to feed, groom and clean up after bears, lions, tigers, and giraffes daily. As a zookeeper, your role will be to care for exotic animals of all shapes and sizes.
  • Animal charities: There are numerous not-for-profit agencies across the country that work hard to help animals by offering them food, shelter or the opportunity to be rehomed in a different country. While working for an animal charity, you will be expected to work directly with these rescued animals, as well as help raise money and complete clerical work.
  • RSCPA inspector: This role can be both emotionally draining and challenging, especially when removing animals from cruel and dangerous situations.
  • Police dog trainer: From detecting drugs to protecting fellow police officers, as a police dog trainer, you can prepare them for every potential scenario.
  • Veterinary nurse: Assisting vets with their daily tasks, as a veterinary nurse, you will work directly with vets to help animals get better while completing admin and consoling pet owners during emotional times.
  • Farmworker: ideal for anyone who loves spending their days outdoors. As a farmworker, you will work closely with livestock, helping to feed, exercise, and groom them.
  • Pet groomer: Getting your pet groomed is incredibly popular at the moment. As a pet groomer, you will help dogs and cats look their best by washing, cutting, and brushing their fur, as well as trimming their nails.
  • Veterinarian: Of this list of jobs, this one will require the most additional training and qualifications. However, once completed, you will be able to work with farm animals, zoo animals, wild animals, and pets, helping them recover from ailments and operations.

What qualifications do you need to work with animals?

The qualifications you need will greatly depend on which career route you decide to pursue. For instance, you can become a dog groomer after finishing a series of animal care and online grooming courses, while to become a vet, you will be expected to spend years in university training.

Take the following:

  • Animal charity: Most positions within the animal charity sector will expect you to have at least some A-levels and a certain amount of clerical experience. However, you will find it easier to move up the career ladder by having a degree.
  • Farmworker: Many farmworkers have spent their lives on farms, acquiring years of hands-on experience that enables them to continue working in this field. That being said, numerous agricultural and horticultural courses could enable you to manage your own farm.
  • RSPCA: The RSPCA offers a series of apprenticeships starting at Level 2 (GCSE) and progressing to Level 6 (degree). These apprenticeships will start you out working as an animal collections officer before moving you up to welfare officer and ultimately inspector.
  • Dog Groomer: While you can become a dog groomer with little to no education or experience, the more credentials you possess, the easier you will find it to expand your clientele and portfolio.

Step One: You can assist and shadow a professional dog groomer, gaining hands-on experience on the job.

Step Two: You can apply for an apprenticeship with businesses such as Pets at Home. They offer Level 2 and 3 certificates.

Step Three: Online dog grooming courses allow you to gain both the practical and theoretical knowledge you need to succeed as a dog groomer.

Step Four: Work placements in vet officers, shelters, charities, and wildlife centres can set you in good stead to work as a dog groomer.

What skills do you need to work with animals?

It is one thing to love all creatures, great and small, and it is another to work with them daily.

As such, you need to consider if you have any or all of the following personality traits and skills before you pursue a career in animal care:

  • A keen eye for detail—this will prove pivotal when training animals or looking for signs of abuse.
  • Willingness to care for animals in all states and conditions Not all animals will be healthy, well or happy when they come into your care. There will be times when you encounter animals that react violently or aggressively or who are extremely malnourished, scared, or poorly, all of which can be emotionally draining.
  • Strong accounting and computer skills: This is particularly important if you plan to work with animal charities, for a vet, or as a pet groomer, as you will have to manage accounts, fundraisers, and charity events.
  • Ability to work under pressure: From rescuing dogs from abusive situations to having to train animals to perform tricks or detect substances, you may find yourself under pressure to get the job done.
  • Strong teamwork skills Coordinating charity events or arranging the rescue of an animal will require great teamwork skills to make them happen efficiently.
  • ability to lead and take charge (particularly true if you want to work as an animal inspector).
  • Great communication skills: You will need to be able to communicate with pet owners clearly and concisely so they fully understand exactly what is happening.
  • Be physically fit and strong. There may be times when you’ll be expected to carry a sedated animal back to your vehicle or to the vet, so you need to be fit and strong for the job.
  • Understanding confidentiality: In any of these fields, you will have to respect the privacy of your clients and not repeat anything you see or hear.
  • Patience, compassion, and good empathy skills—to help you deal with patients and their owners
  • A strong stomach It won’t be all kisses and cuddles. You will have to deal with blood, faeces, and bodily fluids daily.
  • Willingness to get your hands dirty—this doesn’t just apply to farm work. In shelters, zoos, and dog grooming, you will regularly get messy and covered in filth and faeces.

How to get work experience with animals

One of the best ways to get onto the animal care career ladder is to gain experience working with them. Not only will this work experience give you an insight into what to expect in these roles, but you will also be able to see where your natural affinity lies, i.e., one-on-one care, admin, or training.

Option One: Volunteer in an animal shelter or at a rescue centre

As we’ve mentioned before, working in shelters can be emotionally taxing, as not every animal arrives in good condition. That being said, the experience you can acquire here will greatly bolster your career prospects, as you’ll encounter numerous different scenarios.

Should you volunteer, you will get a chance to care for, tend to, feed, exercise and obedience train their animals—all of which will look great on your CV—as well as assist with adoptions.

Option Two: Work at a vets

Working as an assistant or clerical clerk will show you how to handle difficult animals, recognise animal behaviour and care for sick or injured animals.

Option Three: Offer pet-sitting services

Given the lives we lead, the need for pet-sitting services and dog workers has dramatically risen. Luckily for you, no training or education is required to work as a pet sitter. Instead, it is a matter of proving your trustworthiness and showing that you have the personality and attitude to handle animals with responsibility, care, and complete professionalism.

In some instances, pet owners will ask you to care for their pets in their own homes, while others will want you to shelter their pets for them, i.e., board their dogs and cats.

Option Four: Volunteer in a zoo or rehabilitation centre

If you dream of working with exotic animals, then applying to work in a zoo or wildlife rehabilitation centre will point you in the right direction. Many local zoos and wildlife centres offer volunteer programmes that are designed to give young people a chance to work alongside animals. We suggest reaching out to them and seeing what their options are.

Option Five: Work at a farm or in a stable

This is particularly ideal if you love horses or livestock (cows, sheep, etc.). With little to no experience, you can help out at your local farm and help them muck out stalls or feed their animals.

Option Six: Apply for an internship

Many businesses are willing to take people on as interns. Dog groomers especially like to take on interns to help train them. Other internships you can explore are:

  • Pre-veterinary internships
  • WWF internships
  • Equine internships
  • Zoo internships
  • Marine animal internships
  • Dairy farm internships
  • Aquaculture internships
  • Wildlife rehabilitation internships
  • Primate internships
  • Reptile internships
  • Dog training internships
  • Animal behaviour internships

Option Seven: Shadow someone

Once you know what field you would like to work in, reach out to someone in the field to see if they will allow you to shadow them for a few weeks. This will give you a chance to see what the job entails on a day-to-day basis, as well as highlight all the diverse tasks you will have to undertake.


No matter what area of animal care you want to explore, acquiring the skills, experience, and training you need doesn’t have to be a challenge. You can apply for many of these posts with little to no experience and make a real difference.

Alternatively, you can bolster your CV by shadowing other professionals, completing an apprenticeship or internship, or finishing a range of online courses, e.g. online dog grooming course, online animal care courses, veterinary support course, equine science diploma, canine studies, etc.


For more information on our breadth of Animal Care online courses, take a look at our website today.


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