Are you wondering how to get a job working with animals? For many, working in animal care is a dream job – and where there are dream jobs, there are also likely to be plenty of people eager to fill them. So whether it’s becoming a vet, working with dogs, farming or landing that equine job you’ve always wanted, here are a few tips to help make that dream become a reality…
What Qualifications Do You Need to Work with Animals?
Depending on the type of animal job you want to do, formal qualifications are not always necessary. Many workplaces will prefer that you have GCSEs, and in a lot of professional settings, you can train on the job. Of course, if you want to become a veterinary surgeon, you’ll need a university degree, but there are lots of animal jobs that don’t require years of studying.
There are some qualifications you may wish to look into if you’re aspiring toward a career in animal care. Let’s take a look at some of the training courses that could help.
Animal Care Training and Qualifications
When choosing your school or college subjects, choose wisely, keep your future plans in mind and check what qualifications you will need for your career.
Like the sound of an animal-related career? Here at Oxford College, we’ve got a range of suitable courses:
- BTEC in Animal Studies
- Diploma in Zoology
- Equine Science Diploma
- Diploma in Canine Studies
- Level 3 Feline Studies Diploma
- Smallholding Management Diploma
Doing a course like a diploma or BTEC can help you get some important knowledge in the animal care field which might help you when looking for an animal-related job.
Work Experience with Animals
Most schools and colleges operate a work experience program, this would be a great opportunity to get experience working with animals. Talk to your careers advice officer to arrange work experience in an appropriate setting. There are also work experience companies that can point you in the right direction and match you with opportunities in your area for your chosen field. A good example is Work Experience UK.
Another option is to find work during your gap year: many students combine travel with work experience through companies such as Workaway who have hosts all over the world who provide your food and accommodation in exchange for work. Check their hosts for those who need helpers to work with animals.
Volunteer with Animals
Veterinary surgeries, riding stables, the RSPCA, farms, dog groomers and zoos are always willing to accept volunteers to work with animals. The work is often menial – and dirty – but every job you do is another entry on your CV and another reference you can call on for your future employment.
Most of us have to start at the bottom of our chosen career path and work our way up, so why not do some good along the way too? Contact your local zoo, animal refuge or vet to have a chat about animal volunteering options. Here’s a list of UK zoos as a starting point for your research – Zoos.bizland.com.
Networking in Animal Care
In this digital world you can find out any information you need at the touch of a button; you can also connect with just about anyone you need to (who doesn’t have Facebook these days?) Get networking and make some contacts in the animal care industry.
Research the people you’d like to work for, whether it’s a vet, dog groomer, or pet shop owner, follow them on Twitter and like their Facebook pages; get to know them through social media, and when it comes down to getting a job with them you have an advantage.
Beyond that, who you know is increasingly becoming almost as important as what you know. Set up a fabulous LinkedIn profile, use it as your online CV, update it regularly and follow all the right people on there.
Keep Your CV in Mind
If your CV reads like a what’s what of the animal world it will grab prospective employers’ attention immediately – providing you can follow it up with glowing references and evidence of relevant training and qualifications. Jobs working with animals are obviously highly desirable and employers may have to plough through hundreds of CVs before applicants get through to the interview stage.
You can’t rely on your sparkling personality alone, as you may not get an interview if your CV doesn’t stand out from the crowd. Ask a teacher or a friend to check it for spelling and grammatical errors and don’t use fonts or colours that are difficult to read. Check out some top tips on how to write a good CV.
Types of Careers Working with Animals
There are loads of careers you can go into if you’re interested in working with animals. Let’s take a look at some of the options available to you:
- Veterinary Surgeon
- Veterinary Nurse
- Marine Biologist
- Police or Army Dog Handler
- RSPCA Inspector
- Animal Charity Worker
- Dog Trainer
- Dog Groomer
These are just some of the career choices you could pick if you want to work with animals. You could also specialise in certain areas of animal care like horse or bird care if you prefer.
So, if you want to get a job working with animals, a good place to start is to get a qualification that’s relevant to the field of work you want to do. You should also try to get work experience in the industry to add to your CV.