A question we are frequently asked at Compass is ‘which course is best for working with animals?’, it sounds like a straightforward enquiry but first it helps if you narrow down your options or you could end up spending a lot of time, money and effort studying something that is not best geared towards your aim. You can aim to be self employed, salaried or voluntary and some work is long term and some is temporary, or simply seasonal. There are also some internships where you pay varying amounts to take part in experience gathering work for a set period of time, often abroad.
You then need to narrow down where your interest in animals lies. Is there a particular species that you want to work with or a particular type of work? Obviously if you have an interest in dogs there is little point in studying reptiles.
Some jobs are regulated which means there are specific courses that are required and generally they are only available at universities and colleges. Two examples are veterinary Surgeon and Veterinary Nurse, out of interest Animal Care Assistant (sometimes referred to as Vet Nurse Assistant) is not regulated.
There are essentially four areas of work with animals which are:
- Animal Care, Welfare and Husbandry Jobs
This is by far the biggest sector and the one that has the most salaried positions.VeterinaryRescue and release/rehomingAnimal Keepers (Captive collections)Kennels and CatteriesHouse sitting, Pet Boarding, Dog WalkingPet shops
- Animal Behaviour and Training Jobs
The majority of work in this sector is self employed, there are a few salaried positions with bigger charities but it is rare for them to become available. The roles are: Trainer - someone who trains dogs (or other animals) on their own, Training Instructor - someone who trains dogs (or other animals) with their owner, often in a class situation, Behaviourist - someone who deals with problematic behaviour. As this line of work is becoming regulated you should aim to become qualified through an organisation that is a member of the Animal Behaviour and Training Council (ABTC), some people will tell you that this is not necessary but you could be wasting time and money by not following the Compass advice.
- Animal Conservation Jobs
The nature of this work revolves around wild animals which is historically low paid or voluntary. Work is available in the UK and abroad and can sometimes be carried out on an internship. In these cases you will normally have to get yourself to the work site (eg Africa)and home, accommodation and food is normally provided.
- Animal Research Jobs
This is probably the least popular work and requires scientific qualifications, all positions will be salaried.
Other occupations such as Search and Rescue, Security, Home Office detection dogs and Agriculture use animals for a purpose but apart from specialist skills involved they come under the main category of Animal Care, Welfare and Husbandry.
In order to get a job you will invariably need to prepare a CV, this document is the key to getting an interview in most cases. It must show you to be at the very least as well qualified as all other applicants, it must make you stand out. In many cases the way to do this is show that you have already acquired better knowledge of the job than other applicants although experience and aptitude will also play a part. Make sure you don’t send a ‘standard’ CV for all jobs you apply for, tailor it to suit each job.
Employers often want applicants to have some experience of working with animals but that can be a problem for those starting out and looking for their first job. The answer here is to do some voluntary work, this also says good things about your attitude towards working and occasionally may even lead to paid work. You must be prepared to start at the bottom and that usually entails doing the least attractive work such as cleaning out.
Working with animals is very popular and all vacancies attract a very large number of applicants so be sure to get the right education. For more advice on which courses are right for you send your enquiry to Compass or give us a call, there is no obligation to enrol on a course and all advice is free, friendly and totally impartial. To help you in your quest we have compiled a list of potential contacts for you to browse or get in touch with.
|Battersea Dogs and Cats Home
|Yard and Groom
|Horse and Hound
|The British Horse Society
|Careers in Racing - BHA
|4extrahands - Agri Recruitement
|Primate Info. Net
|Primate Society - Jobs and Grants
|International Primatological Society
|Seaworld Parks and Entertainment
|Cetacean Research and Rescue Unit