Working with animals can be a very rewarding career and there are many different kinds of employment, work experience and voluntary placements available. However, competition for places is fierce and it is important to consider all the facts before applying for a position.
What do you want to do?
Because there is such a wide variety of animal related fields available it is a good idea to decide which type of work is more suited to you and what areas you are most interested in.
Do you want to concentrate on domestic animals such as cats and dogs, or are you more interested in exotic animals? Do you wish to work hands on with animals, study them or teach people about them?
Also think about whether you want to work in an animal welfare related area (caring for sick, orphaned and abandoned animals) or whether you are more interested in conservation issues i.e. conserving species of animals and plants and their environments. There is additional information on Careers in Nature Conservation provided below.
Here are some important issues you should consider before embarking on a career with animals:
Working with animals is often very routine and can be physically demanding but the work can be very rewarding.
Animals do not have a 9am till 5pm day! The hours working with animals can vary considerably and can be quite unsociable. This type of work can involve working weekends and Bank Holidays. It is also necessary that you have good timekeeping skills.
If you have allergies to any animals/fur/feathers then you may want to consider whether being in close proximity to animals is going to adversely affect your health and prevent you from carrying out your job effectively.
Hands on work with animals can be dirty and smelly. You may often have to work with sick or injured animals and even humanely kill them.
Positions working with animals are often low paid compared with other employment sectors.
Communication & customer care skills
Working with animals also involves a great deal of interaction with the public, owners, customers or other professionals. As your career progresses and you gain more responsibility you will
Do your research
Once you have done the basic research, it is advisable to contact a range of organisations to establish the necessary level of qualification required for your chosen field.
A word of advice: you will stand a much better chance of succeeding if you have had some practical experience with animals and have attained some relevant qualifications. As with most jobs the greater the experience and qualifications the greater the opportunities.
The following links contain a few examples of job opportunities and information that may help you in your choice of career. This list is by no means exhaustive, so it is recommended that you contact a broad range of organisations for further details. Good luck!