Pet Shop Assistant
Pet shop assistants look after and sell pets such as rabbits, gerbils, hamsters, mice and fish. They also sell things like 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.
Video: - Julie: Pet Shop Assistant
As a Pet Shop Assistant, you will look after the animals in pet shops. This will include serving customers and having other retail duties, including handling cash and credit/debit card payments.
You will look after and sell small pets such as:
- guinea pigs
- bearded dragons
- small snakes
- caged birds
- animals that need rehoming
One of your duties is to feed and water the animals. You are responsible for cleaning and disinfecting tanks and cages. Assistants must also check the animals' general health and condition, and report any problems to the Manager. This could include sometimes take sick animals to a Vet.
You will also serve customers. Apart from the animals, the pet store may also sell pet food and accessories such as cages, hutches, bedding, feeding bowls, tablets and sprays.
Another duty is that you will give customers advice on the most suitable animal to buy to meet their needs, and how best to look after their pets. For example, answering questions about problems such as fleas and worming.
Other tasks include receiving and unpacking stock, putting stock on the shelves, and weighing up and bagging animal feed. Pet Shop Assistants must also keep the shop clean and tidy.
Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.
Personal Qualities and Skills
To become a Pet Shop Assistant, you'll need:
- basic knowledge of animal care
- willingness to do some unpleasant tasks such as clearing away droppings and cleaning cages
- communication skills for serving customers and giving them advice
- number skills for handling cash
- physical fitness, including for lifting and unloading deliveries
Pay and Opportunities
The pay rates given below are approximate.
- Starting: £14,500 - £15,500
- With experience: £16,500 - £19,000
- Senior Pet Shop Assistants earn £20,500 - £23,000
Hours of work
You usually work 40 hours a week. However, you may need to work weekends and bank holidays. There are opportunities to work part-time.
Where could I work?
Most employers are small, high street pet shops. There are also regional and national chains.
Opportunities for Pet Shop Assistants occur in towns and cities throughout the UK.
Where are vacancies advertised?
Vacancies are advertised in local newspapers, at Jobcentre Plus, on the Find a Job website, and on job boards.
Entry Routes and Training
There is not a set route into this career. However, having at least 5 GCSEs graded 9 - 4 (A* - C) in maths and English would be really useful for this career.
You can also become a Pet Shop Assistant with A levels. Having at least one A level in a relevant subject such as biology or animal care will help you stand out from the crowd.
An Intermediate Level Apprenticeship in animal care or management will be a great first step. Take a look at our information article
Previous experience in animal care or management will be useful for this career. Experience within a retail or customer service position will also be really helpful.
Training is usually on-the-job to become a Pet Shop Assistant.
There are courses offered by The College of Animal Welfare which could be helpful. This company offers level 1 – 3 in work-based animal care.
In level 2 work-based animal care, you will learn about a range of units. These include:
- selecting and preparing accommodation for animals
- maintaining animal accommodation
- controlling and restraining animals
- moving animals between locations
- preparing feed for animals
- providing feed and water to animals
- providing controlled exercise opportunities for animals
- preparing and grooming animals
- drying dogs prepare their coats for styling
- loading and unloading animals for transportation
Promotion could be to a Supervisor or Manager role.
To get onto an Intermediate or Advanced Level Apprenticeship, you’ll usually need five GCSEs at grade C/4 or above, possibly including English and maths.
Relevant full-time college courses include BTEC level 2 and level 3 qualifications in animal care and animal management.
Apprenticeships: Get In. Go Far
National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)
Tel: 0800 015 0400
Skills Development Scotland - Modern Apprenticeships
Tel: 0800 9178000
Skills for land-based and environmental industries
Address: Lantra House, Stoneleigh Park, Coventry, Warwickshire CV8 2LG
Tel: 02476 696996
City & Guilds Land Based Services
Address: Building 500, Abbey Park, Stareton, Warwickshire CV8 2LY
Tel: 02476 857300
Pet Industry Federation (PIF)
Address: Bedford Business Centre, 170 Mile Road, Bedford MK42 9TW
Tel: 01234 273933
Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships
Tel: 0800 028 4844
The College of Animal Welfare
Tel: 01480 422060