As an animal care worker, you could look after animals in a number of different places, such as kennels, animal rescue centres and animal sanctuaries.
You could also work as an animal welfare assistant at Blue Cross adoption centres, animal collection officer for the RSPCA, or animal care auxiliary at an animal hospital.
Your day-to-day tasks could include:
preparing food and feeding the animals
keeping animals clean and grooming them
exercising dogs in a yard or taking them for walks
cleaning out kennels, pens and cages and changing bedding
looking after animals who become ill or distressed.
In some jobs you could have other duties, for example, keeping records, taking bookings and advising owners on looking after their animals.
As animals have to be looked after seven days a week, you may work shifts, often including early starts and some evenings and weekends.
Although working with animals can be very rewarding, it can also involve hard physical work. You will also need to be prepared for some unpleasant tasks – for example, cleaning out animal pens and cages can be smelly and dirty – and in some jobs you could spend time working outdoors in all weather conditions.
Animal care workers can earn from £11,000 to over £13,000.
You will not need any qualifications for most animal care jobs, although some employers do ask for qualifications such as GCSEs.
Before you start looking for work it will be useful to have experience with animals.
Volunteering is a useful way to get experience, and show employers that you are enthusiastic and interested in working with animals.
You can find out about opportunities for volunteering in your area by visiting do-it.org.uk .
You could also contact animal welfare organisations like Blue Cross and the RSPCA to see if they need volunteers.
If you would like to do some training before applying for your first job, you could complete courses such as the following:
BTEC Level 2 Certificate/Diploma in Animal Care, or
BTEC Level 3 Certificate/Diploma in Animal Management (Care).
You should check with colleges for entry requirements for the courses.
You may be able to get into this job through an apprenticeship scheme. The range of Apprenticeships available will depend on the local jobs market and the types of skills employers need from their workers.
To find out more about apprenticeships, visit the apprenticeships website.
Once you are employed as an animal care worker, you will receive on-the-job training.
You could also do qualifications such as Awards/Certificate/Diploma in Work-based Animal Care at levels 1, 2 and 3. Level 1 is a general basic qualification. At levels 2 and 3 you can follow a general option, or specialise in one specific area of the work.
Possibly the greatest strength you can have for this job is a real interest in working with animals, the ability to handle animals patiently, gently and confidently, the ability to cope with injured or ill-treated animals and a willingness to do dirty or unpleasant tasks.