'Animals' covers the following jobs:
- Animal Technologist
- Assistance Dog Trainer
- Dog Groomer
- Farm Manager
- Farm Stockman/Woman
- Farm Worker
- Fish Farm Manager
- Fish Farm Worker
- Horse Groom
- Kennel Worker
- Pet Behaviour Counsellor
- Pet Shop Assistant
- Riding Instructor
- RSPCA Inspector
- Veterinary Nurse
- Veterinary Surgeon
- Zoo Keeper.
The job descriptions are only a brief summary. You should find out more about the jobs that interest you.
Video: - Various: Animals
There are various careers in farming at all levels. Farming covers work with livestock, fish or crops. Some farms have both animals and crops.
To start a job in farming, or to take a relevant course, it's very useful to have built up knowledge and skills through some practical work experience, for example, during school holidays or at weekends.
In farming, the hours can be long and irregular. You need to be physically fit and willing to work outdoors in all types of weather.
Fish Farm Worker
Fish farm workers rear fish for food, ornamental pools, and the restocking of lakes and rivers for angling.
Duties include feeding the fish, inspecting them, cleaning tanks and repairing equipment. Fish farm workers need to be physically fit and willing to work outdoors in all types of weather.
You don't need any qualifications to enter but GCSEs in sciences and practical subjects would be useful. Full- and part-time college courses are available.
Stockmen/women are responsible for the health and welfare of livestock, which is mainly cattle, pigs and sheep. Their tasks include:
- monitoring the condition of the animals
- nursing sick animals
- keeping buildings clean and tidy
- looking after pregnant animals.
Stockmen/women are present when animals give birth and they tend to the offspring. Dairy stockmen/women are also responsible for milking.
They work long and irregular hours, usually on their own.
You don't usually need any qualifications to become a farm stockman/woman. However, some GCSEs would be useful. There are a number of full- and part-time college courses, as well as work-based qualifications.
Farm workers carry out the general duties involved in running a farm.
Workers employed on livestock farms specialise in the rearing and care of animals. They have duties such as watering and feeding animals, cleaning out pens, herding animals to different fields or into milking parlours, and keeping careful records.
Some farms mix arable and livestock farming. Duties include driving tractors, using machinery and farm equipment, and repairing farm buildings.
Farm workers need to be physically fit. They work long hours that vary according to the season.
You don't usually need any qualifications to become a farm worker. However, some GCSEs would be useful. There are a number of full- and part-time college courses, as well as work-based qualifications.
Fish Farm Manager
Fish farm managers supervise the breeding and rearing of fish for food, sport and ornamental pools. They manage the whole process, from hatching fish eggs to harvesting the fish for sale.
Depending on the size of the farm and the number of staff there, managers might be involved in practical tasks such as feeding fish, cleaning ponds and tanks, and checking for disease and pollution.
Managers make careful plans, including setting and monitoring budgets. They are in charge of staff recruitment and training, book-keeping, ordering stock and equipment, negotiating contracts and making distribution arrangements.
To become a fish farm manager, you'll usually need a relevant degree, foundation degree or HND. Evidence of skills and knowledge gained in relevant work experience is also important.
It's possible for fish farm workers to work their way up into management posts.
Farm managers are responsible for the smooth running of farms, and for all the staff, activities and resources involved in this. They meet the needs of, and report to, the owner of the farm.
The work involves planning budgets, keeping records, managing farm workers, dealing with technical issues, and making decisions about buying and selling.
To become a farm manager, you'll usually need a degree, foundation degree or HND in agriculture or a related subject. You'll also usually need to have developed skills and knowledge through practical farming experience.
Veterinary science involves the treatment and care of all types of animal.
In this area of work, you must be able to communicate well with people. You need to be sympathetic and understanding when dealing with the animals' owners.
People who work in veterinary science must be emotionally strong and not squeamish, as they can be dealing with very sick animals.
Veterinary surgeons (vets) diagnose and treat sick and injured animals. Duties include:
- examining and testing animals to diagnose illness
- treating animals, for example, cleaning wounds, giving medicine, surgery
- immunising animals against disease
- 'putting down' sick, old or unwanted animals
- advising owners on aspects of animal welfare.
In a town or city general practice, they will spend most of their time treating domestic pets, while vets in rural practices are more likely to treat livestock and horses.
To become a vet, you'll need to complete a degree in veterinary science/medicine that is approved by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS).
Veterinary nurses help and support veterinary surgeons in the diagnosis and treatment of animal illness and injury.
Typical duties include:
- developing X-rays
- sterilising instruments
- testing blood and urine samples
- dressing wounds
- helping the vet during operations
- feeding, watering and exercising animals.
They might have clerical and receptionist duties, such as booking appointments and updating records.
You'll usually need five GCSEs (A*-C), including English, Maths and a science subject to start training.
Animal care and welfare
There are a number of careers that involve looking after animals.
In this work, it's not enough just to love animals. You need to recognise that the work can be dirty, smelly and physically demanding. If your work brings you into contact with sick or mistreated animals, you'll need to be emotionally strong.
Patience is also important, and you must be able to handle animals gently.
RSPCA inspectors enforce the laws relating to the care, transportation and general welfare of pets, livestock and other animals.
Their duties include:
- investigating complaints about cruelty or neglect
- rescuing injured or stranded animals
- educating owners in the care of animals
- finding suitable homes for abandoned or injured animals.
They also liaise with representatives of other organisations, such as the police and environmental health practitioners.
Entrants must have five GCSEs (A*-C) or equivalent, a full driving licence and the ability to swim 50 metres fully clothed within 2.5 minutes.
Dog groomers keep dogs in good condition by washing, brushing, clipping and scissoring their coats. They also clip claws, clean teeth and ears, and treat dogs for parasites such as fleas.
You don't need any qualifications to start work as a trainee or assistant but it is useful to have developed knowledge and skills through experience of working with animals. You can train on-the-job or complete a full-time college course and then look for work.
Zoo keepers care for animals in zoos and places such as safari parks, bird gardens and aquaria. Tasks include cleaning out animal houses, feeding the animals, checking the animals' health and dealing with the public.
Keepers must be prepared to do hard physical work; this could be outdoors in all types of weather.
To become a zoo keeper, there are no set entry requirements. However, most employers ask for at least five GCSEs (A*-C), including English, Maths and a science subject (preferably Biology).
Entry is very competitive, so it's useful to have gained skills and knowledge through experience, for example, as a volunteer in a zoo or in other work with animals.
Animal technologists are responsible for the care and welfare of laboratory animals used in medical, veterinary and dental research.
Rats and mice are most often used in research, although animal technologists might also look after other animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs, monkeys, cats and dogs.
Animal technologists carry out routine aspects of animal care. They feed and water the animals, and clean cages, rooms and equipment. Some technologists use their knowledge of nutrition to prepare special diets.
They are in daily contact with animals, and are able to spot early signs of disease, illness and changes in behaviour. They tend to sick animals and pass on information about the animals' health to scientists.
Most employers look for GCSEs (A*-C) in English, Maths and science subjects, or equivalent.
Kennel workers care for dogs in kennels. They feed, exercise, bathe and groom dogs, and keep their living areas and runs clean. They check that dogs are healthy, treat minor problems, such as cuts, and report other health issues to the vet.
Kennel workers sometimes have clerical duties such as booking appointments and taking payments.
To become a kennel worker, you don't usually need any educational qualifications, although GCSEs in English, Biology (or Science) and Maths are useful. Training is usually on-the-job, and there are also some relevant college courses.
Horse grooms care for horses, keeping them in good health and condition. Grooming involves cleaning, brushing and clipping horses' coats.
Grooms feed, water and sometimes exercise horses, muck out stables and replace bedding. They also clean tack and fix it to horses.
To start training as a horse groom, you won't usually need any qualifications. Entry can be through a traineeship or apprenticeship, or after completing a professional qualification or college course.
Other work with animals
Pet Shop Assistant
Pet shop assistants look after and sell pets such as rabbits, gerbils, hamsters, mice, fish and, sometimes, puppies and kittens. They also sell things such as food, bedding and cages.
The work involves feeding the animals and cleaning out tanks and cages. Assistants also advise customers on how to feed and look after their pets.
To become a pet shop assistant, you don't usually need any qualifications. The training is mainly on-the-job. There are also some relevant college courses.
Gamekeepers look after game such as pheasants, grouse, ducks, deer and, sometimes, fish. The work involves managing and maintaining the wildlife habitat, organising shoots and feeding animals.
Gamekeepers must be prepared to work alone for most of the time. They also need to be physically fit, able to carry out a variety of practical tasks and prepared to work in all types of weather.
To become a gamekeeper, you don't usually need any qualifications, although some GCSEs are useful. Training can be on-the-job. Full- and part-time college courses are available.
Riding instructors teach people of all ages and abilities to ride horses. Other duties include feeding, exercising and grooming the horses every day, although instructors might supervise grooms or trainees who do this work.
Instructors will also deal with administrative tasks such as ordering supplies and writing progress reports.
For each lesson, the instructor needs to create and follow a plan, so pupils progress at their own pace and feel a sense of achievement. The instructor needs to keep track of each pupil's progress.
People usually qualify through the examinations of the British Horse Society or the Association of British Riding Schools.
Assistance Dog Trainer
Assistance dog trainers train dogs that help people lead independent lives. They work with:
- guide dogs for people who are blind or who have limited sight
- hearing dogs for people with hearing difficulties
- dogs for disabled people or people with medical conditions.
They train dogs to obey commands and respond to noises such as doorbells, telephones and smoke alarms.
Knowledge and skills gained through experience of working with dogs and people is very useful. Depending on the organisation, you might need qualifications from a few GCSEs (A*-C) up to degree level. Training is usually on-the-job.
Pet Behaviour Counsellor
Pet behaviour counsellors treat problems with the behaviour of cats, dogs, rabbits, horses and other pets.
They deal with problems such as biting, spraying, too much barking, nervousness and destroying furniture.
To find out what the problem is, counsellors first listen and talk to the owner. Then, they watch how the pet behaves in different situations. Next, counsellors explain what they think the problem is. They give advice and help the owner to plan how to change the way the pet behaves.
To become a pet behaviour counsellor, you'll need at least a degree in a relevant subject, such as biology or psychology.
British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA)
Address: Regents Park, London NW1 4RY
Tel: 020 7449 6599
Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT)
Address: Burgate Manor, Fordingbridge, Hampshire SP6 1EF
Tel: 01425 652381
Address: Burghfield Common, Reading, Berkshire RG7 3YG
Tel: 0118 9835555
Institute of Animal Technology
Address: 5 South Parade, Summertown, Oxford OX2 7JL
Tel: 0800 0854380
Institute of Fisheries Management (IFM)
Address: PO Box 679, Hull HU5 9AX
Tel: 0845 3887012
People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA)
Address: Whitechapel Way, Priorslee, Telford, Shropshire TF2 9PQ
Tel: 01952 290999
Pet Industry Federation (PIF)
Address: Bedford Business Centre, 170 Mile Road, Bedford MK42 9TW
Tel: 01234 273933
Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS)
Address: Belgravia House, 62-64 Horseferry Road, London SW1P 2AF
Tel: 020 7222 2001
Address: The Kiln, Waterside, Mather Road, Newark, Nottinghamshire NG24 1WT
Tel: 01636 677711
Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA)
Address: Wilberforce Way, Southwater, Horsham, West Sussex RH13 9RS
Association of British and Irish Wild Animal Keepers (ABWAK)
Veterinary Council of Ireland (VCI)
Address: 53 Lansdowne Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4
Tel: 01 6684402
Scottish Wildlife Trust
Address: Harbourside House, 110 Commercial Street, Edinburgh EH6 6NF
Tel: 0131 3127765
Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS)
Address: Edinburgh Zoo, 134 Corstorphine Road, Edinburgh EH12 6TS
Tel: 0131 3349171
British Veterinary Association (BVA)
Address: 7 Mansfield Street, London W1G 9NQ
Tel: 020 7636 6541
Getting into Veterinary School
Author: James Barton Publisher: Trotman
Publisher: British Veterinary Association (BVA)
Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Scottish SPCA)
Address: Kingseat Road, Halbeath, Dunfermline KY11 8RY
Natural Resources Wales (Welsh Enquiries)
Address: Ty Cambria, 29 Newport Road, Cardiff, CF24 0TP
Tel: 0300 065 3000
The Royal Welsh Agricultural Society
Address: Royal Welsh Showground, Llanelwedd, Builth Wells, Powys, LD2 3SY
Tel: 01982 553 683