According to W.C. Fields, you should “never work with children or animals” but we think that’s a load of rubbish. As far as aspirational careers go, working with both parties sounds OK to us – especially when you consider the range of rewarding jobs on offer.
If your dream is to work with animals, vet may be top of your list of future career choices. But as you’re probably aware, becoming a vet is no mean feat, with rigorous qualifying criteria and years of training required before you can call yourself a practising veterinarian.
So, what else is there? Are all animal-related careers as tough to get into? Or are there some jobs that let you work alongside our four-legged friends without the stringent qualification requirements?
Well, we’re pleased to say that the latter is true: there are lots of jobs besides being a vet that let you work closely with animals. In this guide, we’re taking a look at what the options are – from dog handler to zookeeper and everything in between.
In recent years, animal-assisted therapy has emerged as an effective form of treatment for people with specific mental health issues, including children with learning disabilities and elderly people with conditions like dementia. Animal-assisted therapists offer this unique form of therapy as part of a wider care programme, with exposure to animals thought to ease the symptoms of both mild and severe mental health conditions and diseases.
Currently, there is no national regulation on animal-assisted therapists, though the Society for Companion Animal Studies (SCAS) plans to introduce formal regulations in the coming years. For more information on becoming an animal-assisted therapist, we’d recommend this SCAS guide.
Animal Charity Worker
The UK is home to hundreds of animal welfare charities, each working tirelessly to safeguard different species, both wild and domesticated. And for those who aspire to work with animals, finding a job within one of these amazing charities promises a rewarding and satisfying career path.
Whether you work for a well-known animal charity like the RSPCA or a lesser-known organisation in your local community, you can expect a job that challenges and rewards in equal measure. What’s great about working for a charity is that passion is rewarded, so you could build an exciting career on experience and dedication alone.
For those keen on working closely with animals in need, our Level 3 Animal Care course offers in-depth understanding of working and co-existing with animals. You’ll be introduced to a history of domesticated animals, the laws regarding animal ownership and care, nutrition, handling, restraint and so much more.
Did you know that UK dog owners spend over £10 billion a year on their four-legged friends? That’s according to the PDSA’s annual Paw Report for 2021, which also found that owners spend an average of £200 a year on clothes for their pooches. Amazing, right?
If you love dogs, becoming a dog groomer could be the perfect profession for you. And if you’re worried there’s too much competition, remember that the UK is home to over 10 million dogs, all with owners willing to spend big on their furry companions.
Interested in becoming a dog groomer? Take a look at our distance learning course, which could help you turn your passion into an exciting career.
Dog Handlers and Trainers
Are you seeking a different challenge to helping dogs look and smell good? Then a career as a dog trainer or handler could be for you. Closely related, these jobs will see you working with dogs day in, day out – whether that’s helping with discipline training or in a professional capacity with the police or the armed forces.
Becoming a qualified dog trainer under the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers is relatively straightforward; you’ll need to complete a minimum of 300 hours of training within three years before sitting an exam. A dog handler is a different story and will depend on the agency you work for, and in what capacity.
Our Dog Health and Behaviour Level 2 course provides a great grounding for those interested in working closely with dogs. By the end of the course, you’ll have an understanding of how training can affect a dog’s behaviour, giving you practical insight into life as a dog handler.
Horses are beautiful animals, so it’s no surprise that many aspire to work with them. And the good news is that there may be plenty of opportunities to do so, with the UK’s equine industry supporting a range of jobs and careers.
For such strong animals, horses have very specific health and care requirements. That may be good news for those wishing to work with them full time, however, as there are lots of jobs centred around horse care and health management. Take a look at our Level 2 Horse Care Management course to learn more.
Veterinary Assistant and Veterinary Nurse
Being a vet may be top of the pile when it comes to animal-related careers, but if you lack the qualifications needed, there are opportunities to work in a similar arena. Much like in our hospitals and GP practices, a range of support staff are needed in veterinary centres, including nurses, assistants and clerical personnel.
Becoming a veterinary assistant or veterinary nurse doesn’t require the same experience or qualifications as a practising vet. But it’s no less enjoyable, rewarding or hands-on, with daily duties seeing you working directly with animals and pet owners alike.
That’s not to say becoming a veterinary nurse or assistant is an easy career. You’ll need to attain the right entry requirements before you can apply, and the job can be challenging and emotional. If you’re determined to work in a veterinary practice, however, the rewards make it all worth it.
Are you the sort of person who watches Channel 4’s The Secret Life of the Zoo and thinks, “that looks like the most fun ever”? Well, you could join follow in their footsteps by training to become a zookeeper.
Zoos employ people from all backgrounds and walks of life, at all different levels. That means there are lots of routes into the zookeeping profession, whether it’s a degree in zoology, a college course, an apprenticeship, or by working your way up from a different position.
Whichever route you choose, we can almost guarantee that a career as a zookeeper will be every bit as fun and rewarding as the documentaries show.
A zoologist might sound like someone who works in a zoo, but it’s a different job altogether. Instead, you’ll be studying animals and their behaviour, either in a lab, in the field or somewhere overseas, with duties ranging from conservation and safeguarding to teaching, pest control, and disease research.
So, as you might have gathered from the job description, qualified zoologists are usually degree educated, often with a BSc in zoology or similar (marine biology, biology etc.). However, you can also get qualified through other avenues, including our Level 3 Zoology course, which could help you on your way to a dream career.
So, there you have it – eight rewarding jobs that will see you working with animals. We hope this guide helps you think outside the box and continue to pursue your dream of working with our furry, feathered and scaly companions. Whatever your aspirations, our animal-related distance learning courses could help you achieve your goals for the future. For more information, visit the homepage or call our expert course advisers on 0161 630 3000.