How to Become a Kennel Assistant

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If you enjoy spending time with dogs, cats and other animals, you could enjoy a career as a kennel assistant.

The job is very demanding though, both physically and emotionally.

You’ll have to be confident in handling animals and be prepared to work with pets who are ill or distressed.

Having your own pets is certainly a good starting point for knowing if you would enjoy this work, but it’s even more important to do some related work experience to see if you’re really cut out for the role before you start applying for jobs. There’s a lot more to the position of kennel assistant than you might think.

In the following guide, you’ll discover everything you need to know about becoming a kennel assistant.

There’s information on the everyday tasks and responsibilities of a kennel assistant and a list of the key skills you need to possess to do the job well. You will also find out about the different routes you can take to become a kennel assistant, how much you can earn and how your career can progress.

What is a kennel assistant?

Kennel assistants are in charge of taking care of animals, such as dogs and cats, who are caged in places like catteries, kennels, animal shelters or veterinary clinics. Kennel assistants perform a number of duties to ensure all animals in their care are looked after correctly.

In this demanding role, you will provide basic animal care during different hours, so shift work is not uncommon. You may be expected to work irregular hours, such as early mornings, evenings, weekends and bank holidays. Full-time and part-time positions are available for kennel assistants.

What do kennel assistants actually do?

You may only work with dogs and/or cats depending on the place you are employed with, but kennel assistants also often work with other pets like hamsters, guinea pigs and parrots.

The general duties of a kennel assistant involve cleaning and sanitizing cages and feeding pets.

However, there is a lot more to the role, as you will find out in the next section.

Kennel Assistant Job Description

As well as cleaning cages and feeding animals, your work as a kennel assistant will involve tasks like walking the animals, picking up after the animals and reporting pets’ conditions to their owners or a supervisory member of staff.

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You may be in charge of animal nail trimming, bathing and grooming as well. You’ll often be expected to assist with other duties too, such as selling pet supplies and basic administration work like record keeping. Other daily tasks could include:

  • Preparing food for the animals.
  • Caring for animals who are ill or distressed.
  • Maintaining cages and grounds.
  • Greeting visitors.
  • Answering telephones.
  • Taking payments.

 

Key Skills for a Kennel Assistant

You undoubtedly need to have a love of animals to become a kennel assistant.

You also need to understand and anticipate the needs of the animals in your care.

If you’re an animal lover, this may sound like a dream job but the position is physically and emotionally challenging. You will have to be fit and active to do physical work on a daily basis, such as cleaning cages and lifting animals.

You’ll also have to be emotionally strong to deal with being in contact with ill or distressed animals; some of who may need to be put down.

Furthermore, you need to be prepared to work outside in all kinds of weather and work irregular hours.

Other key skills required for the position of kennel assistant include:

  • Flexibility.
  • Attention to detail.
  • The ability to stay patient and calm in stressful situations.
  • The ability to work well with others.
  • The ability to work well by yourself.
  • The ability to use your own initiative.
  • The ability to work well under pressure.
  • Excellent communication skills.
  • Basic IT skills.
  • Customer service skills.

Useful Work Experience

Although it’s not compulsory to do work experience prior to seeking a job as a kennel assistant, it is looked upon favourably by most employers. It’s therefore recommended you do a voluntary placement before you apply for a job.

If you approach places like kennels and catteries, it’s possible your voluntary placement could lead to a part-time or full-time job once an opening arises. You could also approach charities, animal rescue centres and veterinary practices to enquire about work placement opportunities.

It’s advantageous to have had pets of your own of course. The more time you’ve spent around animals like dogs and cats, the better. However, working with animals professionally is a different ball game to looking after your own pets.

That’s why it’s important to get some work experience before deciding this is the career for you. Not only will work experience give you a better opportunity to find employment, it will also allow you to understand how demanding the job is. You can then know whether it’s the right career choice for you or not.

Average Salaries for a Kennel Assistant

Entry level salaries for kennel-assistants range between £11,000 and £14,000 per year. If you become a supervisor or a manager, you can earn around £17,000 or more per year. Some job vacancies include onsite-accommodation as well.

Qualifications for a Kennel Assistant

There are no specific qualifications you need to hold in order to become a kennel assistant.

You can study our online kennel assistant course which is a great way to learn about the role and skills involved. The kennel assistant and management course is a perfect stepping stone for starting a career working in dog kennels.

Our Rescue Dog Trainer Course is also great to add to your CV if you are wanting to learn more about kennels.

However, there are several qualifications you could earn that would help you to be ready for employment and to find a job after you’ve completed your course.

Qualifications for a Kennel Assistant Even if you do obtain a formal qualification, you may still need to have experience of working with animals before you can be offered a job.

The exact entry level requirements for a kennel assistant position depend on the specific organisation you work for.

Courses

There are a number of online canine courses you could study. The most popular dog courses that our students take include:

These online courses are a great way to gain an accredited certificate which you can include on your CV.

Apprenticeships

Another route into a kennel assistant career is to do an apprenticeship.

This allows you to earn a small wage while you train on the job. There are two apprenticeships available:

  • An intermediate apprenticeship as an animal care and welfare assistant.
  • An advanced apprenticeship in animal care.

Although there are no set entry requirements, you may gain a place on an intermediate apprenticeship more easily if you have some GCSEs, especially maths and English, or equivalent qualifications.

For a place with an advanced apprenticeship, it can be beneficial to have five GCSEs at grades A* to C or nine to four, including maths and English; or equivalent qualifications.

Career Progression

Once you have experience as a kennel assistant, you could progress in your career by becoming a supervisor or manager. You could even set up your own kennel or cattery business. You also have the option of going into other areas of working with animals by gaining extra qualifications. For example, you could become a dog trainer, a veterinary nurse or an RSPCA inspector.

In Conclusion

You must have an affinity with animals if you want to become a kennel assistant.

You’ll need to be prepared to do physically demanding and emotionally draining work on a daily basis as well.

The work will often take place outdoors, so you need to be prepared to work in all weather conditions.

You’ll also sometimes need to wear protective clothing. Another challenging aspect of the job is shift-work. Irregular and unsociable hours aren’t uncommon in this profession. If the challenges of this role don’t put you off, you could be a perfect fit for this career.

Although you don’t need to have qualifications to become a kennel assistant, there are many courses available to help you become accredited and find work more easily.

Many employers prefer to take on people who have previously completed paid or voluntary work with animals, so if you don’t have any experience, get some.

When you’re ready to find work, you can apply directly to places like kennels, catteries and veterinary practices. Alternatively, you could enrol with an apprenticeship, which allows you earn while you learn.

As challenging as this job can be, it’s a very rewarding one too.

If you’re passionate about animal welfare, this could be your ideal career.

Once you have experience of being a kennel assistant, you could then progress to a managerial role or even set up your own kennel business.