Do you have a passion for working with animals?
Do you want to know how to become an animal carer?
With approximately 13,300 animal care businesses in the United Kingdom, there are many opportunities to find employment as an animal carer.
You could work for a charity organisation like the Blue Cross or Dogs Trust, or you could work in settings like zoos and rescue centres.
If you care about animals and have a passion for working with them, the role of animal carer could be the perfect career for you.
Find out if you have what it takes to become an animal carer by reading the following informative sections.
You’ll discover what an animal carer does, what key skills you need to have, how much you can earn, how you can get started in this career and much more.
What is an animal carer?
In this role, you will look after animals and take care of their everyday needs.
Animal carers make sure the animals they work with are healthy and happy. Carers work in a variety of settings, such as kennels, catteries, rescue centres, zoos, farm parks, safari parks and veterinary hospitals.
There are several alternative job titles for animal carers, such as kennel worker, cattery worker, animal care worker, animal welfare assistant and animal care assistant.
Depending on the organisation you work for, you could care for animals like:
- Guinea pigs.
Animal carers often have more direct contact with the animals than anybody else in the organisation, so it’s a very important job. In this position, you’ll often be required to work shifts over seven days a week. This typically includes working early mornings, evenings and weekends.
What do animal carers actually do?
You will need to be prepared for working in the elements too, as most animal carer positions involve working outside regardless of the weather conditions.
You daily duties can range from preparing food and cleaning pens to exercising animals and grooming them.
In some organisations, you may also answer general public queries, keep records and take bookings.
You may advise owners on how to look after their animals too.
Animal Carer Job Description
The job description for the role of animal carer will differ depending on the specific organisation you work for.
Typically, the job entails cleaning pens, preparing food, feeding animals and cleaning and grooming animals.
Other main duties and responsibilities include:
- Changing bedding.
- Making sure animal enclosures are maintained.
- Checking animals for signs of distress or illness.
- Helping to move animals from one place to another.
- Keeping animals who are distressed calm.
- Making bookings.
- Keeping records.
Key Skills for an Animal Carer
It’s vital you have a real passion for working with animals and you’re able to emotionally deal with being around sick or distressed animals.
You’ll also need to be gentle and confident when handling animals.
Working as an animal carer, you’ll need to be hardworking and have an enthusiastic attitude.
Due to the shift-nature of most positions, you’ll need to be flexible as well.
Other key skills needed to succeed in this role include:
- Excellent communication skills.
- A thorough attention to detail.
- The ability to work well in a team.
- The ability to work well on your own.
- The ability to use your own initiative.
- The ability to work well under pressure.
- The ability to manage your time effectively.
- Customer service skills.
- A good knowledge of health and safety in the workplace.
Useful Work Experience
It’s essential you have experience of working with animals before you choose your route into this career. Having experience not only helps to support your application and entry into this job role, it also allows you to know whether you’re really suited to the profession.
There are a number of organisations in the United Kingdom that offer voluntary placements. You could do work experience at a local animal welfare organisation or you could do a placement with a national organisation like the Blue Cross, RSPCA, Dogs Trust or PDSA.
Average Salaries for an Animal Carer
The amount you can earn as an animal carer depends on the exact nature of your position and the organisation and location you work in. As a rough guide, most animal carers can expect to earn a starter salary of between £11,000 and £15,000 per year.
Popular Animal Care Courses
Many of our students who are interested in working in animal care take our online animal care courses.
Popular courses in this sector include:
- Level 2 Animal Care Course
- Level 3 Animal Care Course
- Animal Welfare Course
- Animal Management Course
Taking our online animal course is a smart choice to boost your career in the ever-expanding field of animal care and welfare. Our comprehensive program offers a wealth of knowledge and practical skills that are highly sought after by employers in veterinary clinics, animal shelters, zoos, and pet care businesses.
Qualifications for an Animal Carer
You don’t need to have a qualification to become an animal carer, but it can certainly be useful if you do enrol with a specific animal course. To many employers, the most important thing is you have a real enthusiasm for animal welfare and you’re willing to learn on the job.
Your other option for entering this profession is through an apprenticeship in animal care.
This allows you to earn a qualification while learning the skills and experience you need on-the-job.
In England, you could earn a Level Two Diploma in Animal Care or a Level Three Diploma in Work-based Animal Care.
An apprenticeship not only provides you with structured training, it also pays you a weekly salary of at least £95 per week.
Many apprentices earn much more per week.
The exact amount you get paid depends on the specific organisation you work for, the sector you work in, your age and your location.
There are different arrangements in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but apprenticeships are available in those countries as well.
Entry Requirements for Apprenticeships
To be accepted onto an intermediate apprenticeship scheme, you’ll usually need to have some GCSEs, including maths and English, or equivalent qualifications. For an advanced apprenticeship, you will typically need to have at least five GCSEs at grades A* to C or nine to four, including maths and English; or equivalent qualifications.
After years of experience, you could progress in your career to become a supervisor or a manager. In addition, there’s the option to diversify into other areas, such as grooming, animal boarding or pet retail. You may prefer to specialise in an area of expertise, such as hydrotherapy, animal massage or working with animals who have mobility problems.
You could even become self-employed and open up your own welfare centre, kennels or cattery. There’s also the opportunity to move into other animal care professions, such as veterinary nursing. Alternatively, you could move into education and lecture about aspects of animal care that you have expertise in.
If you deeply care about animal welfare and you’re prepared to work unsociable hours, this career could be the right option for you. You’ll have to be able to handle working with sick, injured or distressed animals that may need to undergo euthanasia.
You’ll also have to be prepared to work outside in all weather. If you’re serious about becoming an animal carer, the first thing to do is get a voluntary placement at somewhere like an animal refuge, a cattery or kennels.
This will allow you to find out whether you’re up to the job and it will help you to be accepted into paid employment, a college course or an apprenticeship. Although qualifications are not essential to enter this sector, it’s certainly beneficial to hold a certificate in animal care or animal management.
Once you have experience and/or a qualification, you can begin your career as an animal carer. You could work with a variety of animals or you could work for an organisation that handles specific animals like dogs or horses. After gaining invaluable experience as an animal carer, you have the option of moving into a different area of animal care or progressing to a supervisory or managerial position.