Working with animals as a pet shop assistant

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As a pet shop assistant you would be responsible for serving customers and looking after the animals in a pet shop.

You would sell domestic animals like rabbits, rodents and fish, and also pet food, cages, accessories and equipment.

Typically, your duties would include:

l giving food and water to the animals

l cleaning out cages

l grooming animals

l exercising animals where necessary

l advising customers on the best way to care for their pets

l selling pet care products

l maintaining stock levels

l dealing with deliveries

l keeping the store clean and tidy

l checking the water temperature and chemical balance in fish tanks, including salt water tanks containing marine fish

l checking all of the animals regularly for signs of disease and, if necessary, taking them to a veterinary surgeon

Some shops specialise in a particular type of animal, for example aquatic centres sell mainly fish. If you were based in a specialist shop, you would be expected to provide more in-depth advice and information to customers.

You would usually work around 40 hours a week, which will usually include weekends. Part-time hours are also often available.

Your work would include unpleasant smells and duties. Because of contact with animals and cleaning agents, you may not find this work suitable if you have certain allergic conditions.

The starting salary for a pet shop worker can be between £11,500 and £12,500 a year. At supervisor or management level, salaries rise to between £15,000 and £24,000.

You will not usually need any particular qualifications to work in a pet shop but skills such as customer service, an interest in animals, confidence to handle a wide range of domestic animals, a willingness to clean out dirty cages and deal with routine tasks, an ability to follow health and safety guidelines and maths skills could be useful.

A good way to prepare for this job could be to take a course such as:

l Introduction to Animal Care, awarded by Ascentis

l ABC Awards, Certificates and Diplomas, levels 1 to 3, in Practical Small Animal Care Skills

l BTEC Certificate and Diploma at Level 2 in Animal Care

l BTEC Certificate and Diploma at Level 3 in Animal Management

l City & Guilds Certificate and Diploma in Animal Care and Management

You are also likely to have an advantage if you have experience of working in animal care, or in a retail or customer service role.

You will receive on-the-job training in areas such as health and safety, customer service and pet cleaning and feeding procedures.

You may be encouraged to take The Pet Care Trust, Pet Foundation Course and could go on to work towards qualifications such as levels 1, 2 and 3, Awards, Certificates and Diploma in Work-Based Animal Care awarded by ABC and NPTC.