Companion animals depend on us for their care and attention. They need to be looked after when they are sick or injured, and they need to be exercised, groomed, fed and – unfortunately – rescued when they are at risk. They need veterinary nurses, trainers, groomers, caretakers, attendants and advocates across the vast range of settings in which they are kept. From animal charities, boarding kennels and catteries, to zoos, farms and nature reserves, animal care offers a wealth of career opportunities for people with the right qualities.

Is this you?

What qualities do you need to work in animal care?

First and foremost, you need to have compassion for animals. You need to be able to handle animals humanely and confidently, and take a patient and calm approach towards them. Working with animals involves building a relationship of trust. The animals you work with need to feel comfortable with you, especially if they are stressed or in pain.

You also need the ability to cope with distressing situations, especially if you want to work with animals that have been injured or mistreated. You have to be willing to carry out dirty or unpleasant tasks, and you may have to work unsocial hours such as early mornings, evenings and weekends.

If you bond well with animals and enjoy practical hands-on work, then you already have the basic starting qualifications you need to work with animals.

Getting into animal care

Working with animals is an increasingly popular career choice. Some begin working with animals at a very early age, when they assume the responsibilities of a pet owner with their first hamster or goldfish. What begins as an instinctive desire to look after an animal can then grow into a fulfilling career. Others seek to move into animal care as a rewarding career change in later life.

For most entry-level jobs, the emphasis will be on your skills, personal qualities and – perhaps most importantly – any previous experience you’ve had. A good way to get on the first rung of the career ladder is to undertake voluntary work with animal welfare organisations. This enables you to gain relevant experience, decide whether or not the career choice is right for you, and demonstrate your interest and commitment to potential employers.

Enhancing your career prospects

You can also enhance your career prospects by undertaking an accredited course in your chosen field. As well as giving you relevant training, a recognised diploma or certificate will demonstrate to employers a genuine interest in animal welfare. Pursuing a college course is also another way of getting valuable hands-on experience.

Animal Jobs Direct offers a huge range of accredited courses and regulated qualifications. Our animal care courses follow the standards of the Qualifications and Credit Framework, which is regulated by Ofqual. Our students can therefore be confident that we deliver excellent standards of teaching and the best quality study materials. Our tutors are experienced animal care professionals who are passionate about animal care, and our courses place great emphasis on the ethics of animal care.

All of our Level 1 – 4 courses are open-entry and no prior qualifications are necessary. Our learners range from school leavers to mature students and there is no age limit to any of our courses.

It’s never too late to turn your compassion for animals into a rewarding career.