Starting out

Careers working with animals

Careers and Jobs working with animals

Starting your career

A career working with animals can be extremely rewarding and satisfying, however, it can be hard to know where to begin to make your dream become reality when you have had little or no prior experience.  You may be thinking about the possible career options open to you after finishing studying or you may already be working in a different industry and considering a career change.  Whatever your current situation, these general tips can help in getting you started towards a rewarding new career.

6 Tips to Consider When Starting an Animal-Related Career

There is no doubt that working with animals can be an incredibly rewarding experience, which offers immense job satisfaction.  However, when contemplating the prospects of any career choice there’s a few things we suggest you consider. Here are our top 6 tips. 

Tip 1 – Identify what motivates you

Think about the tasks you like and do not like doing? Is there something that you can imagine yourself doing each and every day? Something that inspires you, something you are passionate about?  Well, if one of those things is caring about the welfare and health of animals then the animal care industry might just be for you. 

Tip 2 – Do your research

It is vital to look beyond the image of the job – look into what is REALLY involved on a day-to-day basis.  Read job adverts, job descriptions, blog posts, professional journals, and websites.  Talk with people who are working in the field;  most people will be happy to talk about their job and will give you a realistic picture of the good and bad.

Tip 3 –  Have realistic expectations!

People that work with animals rarely do it for a financial reward and rarely work a routine 9-5, 5 day work week.  Also, working with animals typically involves a significant amount of interaction with people, a lot of hands-on work including cleaning and standing on your feet all day. 

On the flipside, no two days will ever be the same and each and every day will provide you with a new challenge and problem to solve.

Tip 4 – Choose a career to suit you

If you think the industry is a right fit for you, narrow your interests down so you can get an idea of the type of organisation you would like to work in and the role you desire. Do you want to work with companion animals (pets) or exhibited animals (Zoo or Wildlife)? Do you prefer large animals like horses and livestock or small animals like cats and dogs? Are you passionate about animal welfare (Animal Shelter/Refuge Centre) or prefer the idea of working in a daily care role (Dog Kennel or Cattery)? Do you love the idea of participating in animal rehabilitation programs (Wildlife Rehabilitation), or would you rather make a difference from afar such as in retail including a Pet Shop ? 

These questions will help you determine your ideal work environment so you can start thinking about a suitable career. For instance: Can you handle repetitive tasks (Dog Groomer) or would you prefer each day to be different (Veterinary Nurse)? Do you prefer managing a team of people (Pet shop Manager), or would you prefer to contribute as part of a team (Kennel hand)? Do you want a hands-on role caring for animals daily (Animal Attendant)?

Tip 5 – Get a taste of the job

Volunteering is a fantastic way to get a feel for the animal care industry. There are many non-profit rescue and rehabilitation based organisations throughout Australia that provide volunteers with an opportunity to help out and in return, you will get a taste of what it is like to work with animals. 

Tip 6 – Gain skills and knowledge 

Once you have an idea of the field, work environment, and role you see yourself in, it’s time to consider your existing skills and experience and what you need to secure your first position. There are several nationally recognised qualifications available that are highly desired by employers in the animal care industry. You will see these qualifications frequently listed in advertised job vacancies.  The benefit of getting certified is the practical hands-on experience you will gain as part of completing a course.  

You want to work with animals - what field is best for you?

The animal care industry encompasses hundreds of different possible career paths, from working with domestic pets in a vet clinic, kennel or cattery, to rescuing and rehabilitating wildlife!  It can be a difficult task to narrow down what area of the industry you are interested in, so here are some useful tips on how to do just that!

What Interests You?

Decide what type of animal species interest you e.g. cats and dogs or farm animals or wildlife.

Match your Skills

Evaluate the career or field that best matches your skills, abilities and personal characteristics.

Explore All Options

Don’t limit yourself, there may be more than one area of the industry that interests you.

How to get a job working with animals

This can often be one of the most challenging aspects of starting a career in a new industry! Most employers are looking to hire individuals with proven skills and experience. However, how can you get the skills and experience if no one will give you a chance!  

Vocational training can be a great way to break into a new industry as it combines learning the theory with a practical industry placement, providing students with the opportunity to gain a nationally accredited qualification together with the knowledge, skills and experience needed to start their new career.

All of our qualifications combine theory with workplace practical training and allow students to tailor their course to the area of the animal care industry that interests them. We offer courses for every level. 

Nationally Accredited Animal Care Courses to Kick-Start Your Career

Choose a nationally accredited course to suit your interests and experience. 

ACM20121 Certificate II in Animal Care

This is an ideal starting point for those with very little or no prior knowledge or experience working with animals. This course is designed to give you valuable animal care skills and knowledge. It is also the minimum pre-requisite for the Veterinary Nursing qualification should you wish to study to become a qualified Veterinary Nurse. Study online or take one of our intensive on-campus courses.

ACM40418 Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing

A course specifically designed to provide you with the knowledge and skills required to start your career as a veterinary nurse. We combine a high standard of theoretical knowledge with intensive practical training in veterinary practice so that you gain the competence and confidence required for this exciting and rewarding career. Study online or on-campus.

ACM30122 Certificate III in Animal Care Services

This course is ideal for those who may have already gained some experience in the industry and are looking to consolidate their skills and knowledge with a nationally accredited qualification. This course also offers the next step in a pathway for those who have completed a Certificate II level qualification. Study online or at the RSPCA WA. 

ACM40322 Certificate IV in Animal Behaviour & Training

Suitable for those who have some experience in the animal care or animal training industry and are looking to gain a national qualification and become a qualified dog trainer. AVT Graduates are IMDT certified as well as nationally accredited. Study via blended learning.

It can be a daunting prospect to decide on a career pathway or pursue a change of career. However, by following these steps, you can ensure that you make the right choice for your future. By choosing a career you love, you will never work another day! 

Want to learn more about working with animals?

Read some of our latest articles about working in the industry, qualifications, careers and more:-

High school trainees - courses vet in schools with animals

Qualifications for high school leavers & graduates

Depending on your level of experience with animals, ACM20121 Certificate II in Animal Care and ACM30122 Certificate II in Animal Care Services are great places for students to start who have completed high school. 

To learn more about your options, visit our High School Graduates page. 

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