Top 6 Animal Care Careers

Working with animals is not just limited to one field, such as veterinary nursing. It involves a diverse range of rewarding roles and career pathways to cater for all interests, skill level and abilities. There will no doubt be an ideal job out there for those of you who consider yourselves true animal lovers and environmentalists, through to those of you in business and commercial enterprises, farming, or agriculture.

Here are the top 6 fields to work with animals. They include and are not limited to:

1. Careers relating to caring for pets

 

Veterinary Nurse

Animal Care jobs - vet nurseAbout the field:  Working in the veterinary industry is one of the most exciting career pathways you can undertake. Working closely alongside veterinarians and specialists such as experts in the fields of behaviour, medicine and surgery, you will truly be making a difference to the lives of your patients and their owners through your role of patient care and client education.

Roles available: The role of a veterinary nurse is not only very diverse, it is also vital to the functioning of a hospital. It can vary from clinical work in a busy small animal general practice, or specialist nursing in the fields of emergency and critical care, dermatology, medicine, surgery, imaging, dentistry, exotics or zoo medicine. It can also involve the care of equine patients and those within the production animal industry both within clinic setting or out in the field or farm. Veterinary nurses play a valuable role in shelter medicine for charities and local councils, so you can help to save the lives of pets in need of a home. There are positions available in animal hydrotherapy and physiotherapy. You can extend your role into sales and management, education of  veterinary staff, or as a representative for  pet food or pharmaceutical companies or medical wholesalers. For those dedicated to do so, this qualification can develop further into nursing at Diploma level or into a science based research/laboratory role or even a career as a veterinary surgeon .

For more information visit What qualification do you need to become a veterinary nurse?

Specialist nursing in the fields of:-

  • Emergency and Critical Care
  • Dermatology
  • Medicine
  • Surgery
  • Imaging
  • Dentistry
  • Exotics or Zoo medicine

Specific care:-

  • Working with equine patients and those in the production animal industry both within clinic setting or out in the field or farm
  • In shelter medicine for charities and local councils, so you can help to save the lives of pets in need of a home
  • In animal hydrotherapy and physiotherapy

Alternative careers:-

  • In a Practice Management and Leadership role,
  • Lecturing and teaching like-minded veterinary support staff,
  • In a laboratory
  • Sales representatives for pet food, pharmaceutical companies or medical wholesalers

Best career/education pathway:  Although finishing secondary school may seem like an ideal pathway into this career, in fact vet nurses come from a great diverse range of backgrounds, of all ages and education status, both from the city and rurally. Direct entry into the Certificate IV is possible but there are several alternative pathways available to achieve a veterinary nursing qualification, such as pathways through  VET in Schools Programs and Certificate’s II and II in Animal Studies. Regardless of your chosen pathway, work-experience in the veterinary field is invaluable.

Where can I get a job?  While the most common career path is directly into a clinical role (within a hospital), you could just as likely find yourself working in a laboratory, farm, animal shelter, college, office, or on the road working for a pharmaceutical or pet food company, perhaps even a zoo. A clinical nurse will often start in a general practice to gain experience, then move into specialist fields and referral facilities if they wish to be further challenged.

 

Grooming and working in a pet care facility

About the field: Animal care jobs - groomingGrooming, pet-sitting and work in a pet care facility such as a cattery, stables or dog kennels, will bring you into close contact with the animals in your care, while you add to their comfort and welfare. These roles are hands-on and require you to have an understanding of animal handling, behaviour, spread of disease and hygiene. The role requires patience and diligence to your work. Those interested in working for yourselves or running a business could be a looking at a challenging and fulfilling career ahead.

Roles available: A pet groomer for dogs and cats, both privately owned pets and those for showing purposes.

Best career/education pathway: One option is through a Certificate II in Animal Studies or Certificate III in Companion Animal Services or Animal Management, teamed up with on-the-job training and work experience. Another option would be to research private grooming schools in your area.

Where can I get a job?: You may find yourself owning or managing a private small business, or working for a large chain corporation grooming parlour. There are also positions required in veterinary clinics, boarding kennels/catteries, with pet-sitting companies or for government (e.g. in quarantine facilities).

 

Dog, Cat or Horse Trainer

Animal care jobs - groomerAbout the field: There is a misconception that an animal behaviourist and an animal trainer are synonymous. However, while there is a big difference between the two, they both work in close partnership to ensure the highest standard of care for our domesticated pets and their owners. A behaviourist studies the science of animal behaviour. As a behaviourist, you are seen more as an animal “psychologist.” A trainer takes on the active and fulfilling role of the animal’s (and owner’s!) teacher or instructor.

Education/pathways: A certificate in Animal Studies or in Vet Nursing is a good start to achieve the base knowledge required to truly understand our pets psychology and behaviour. You can then progress in the field of your choice.

Job: You can own and run your own animal training business or work within a private practice or veterinary hospital running behaviour clinics. You may find work alongside specialist veterinarians, in shelter medicine and with rescue/re-homing charities.

 

2. Jobs in welfare and animal protection

Animal care jobs - wildlife carerAbout the field: Wildlife and rehabilitation carers play a vital role in our community. They are on call to help our native wildlife of all shapes and sizes, from kangaroos to reptiles and birds, during times of need or crisis – whether they be singular incidents or during environmental emergencies such as bushfires. Park Rangers and Wildlife Rangers are responsible for the protection of both wildlife and their environment.  The responsibilities of a ranger vary depending on their role. An example of their duties include managing wildlife control programs, snake removal and relocation, feral animal management, assisting with research of endangered and threatened animals, native animal education, wildlife crime management and dog and cat control in urban areas.

Roles available: Wildlife nurses, wild life carers and  animal fauna rehabilitation workers, conservation workers, sanctuary carers, sanctuary management, park rangers, wildlife rangers, and positions within local council such as shelter or pound carers and managers.

Best career/education pathway: Cert III in Animal Studies  with a focus on Native Wildlife Rehabilitation, or a Certificate III or IV in Captive Animals, along with extensive volunteering within the field.

Where can I get a job?: There are many wildlife sanctuaries and rehabilitation centres around Australia that offer both paid and volunteer positions. Careers in industry or government and in Parks/Reserves/Sanctuaries are available. With further education this may progress into the fields of Research or a career as a Biologist.

 

3. Service animals

Animal care jobs - police dog trainerAbout the field: Animals such as dogs and horses provide vital service roles, from helping those with disabilities, to assisting within the medical field and to the protection of our safety and way of life. These animals require the highest standard of care and training.

Roles available: Trainers, carers and handlers of animals in a range of areas including animal-assisted therapy and in law enforcement.  There are a variety of roles in dog and horse handling and care working for government agencies including the Military (e.g. Australian Army), Police Force, Customs detection, Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, Drug detection squad and in Search and Rescue.

Best career/education pathway:  Obtaining a career working with service animals is highly competitive. Studying to become a Veterinarian, Vet Nurse and studying a Certificate IV in Companion Animal Services can broaden your prospects of entering a career working with service animals.

If joining the police force or military may sound appealing to you, this is always an option. Guide Dogs Australia require volunteer Puppy Raisers which may be something that interests you.

Where can I get a job?: There are many charities dedicated to raising service dogs such as the Delta Society or Guide Dogs Australia. Alternatively in law enforcement you can seek a position in the Australian Army, Air Force Security, Royal Australian Airforce, Military, State Police Departments,

 

4. Retail outlets

Animal care career - pet shop assistantAbout the field: There is an ever-growing pet sales and retail industry, which requires highly trained staff with extensive knowledge and skills in animal handling, nutrition and healthcare products.

Roles available: Sales and management roles such as pet or aquarium store managers and floor staff. You would be expected to give expert advice to customers with regards to animal nutrition, grooming and general healthcare. Sales representatives for pet food companies, the pharmaceutical industry, or medical equipment wholesalers. Businesses may require staff for stands/stalls at animal expos and dog shows

Best career/education pathway: A Certificate II or  III in Animal Studies, or Certificate II in Retail, along with voluntary work experience, will put you ahead of other applicants in another competitive field. Experience in retail or management outside of the animal industry will also be helpful.

Where can I get a job?: There are many large retail chain stores as well as private small business pet shops that stock pets and products for cats, dogs, large animals, fish and exotics such as rabbits, reptiles and amphibians. Other areas that might interest you are pet food companies and warehouse distribution centres.

 

5. Farming or commercial animal operations

Careers in animal career - farm workerAbout the field: You could be helping Australia work towards the most humane and efficient use of animals that are used for the benefit of our own health and lives. You could be working within the Agriculture industry, enhancing the nutrition and health care of our production animals (including aquaculture/fisheries, meat, egg and dairy industries).

Roles available: You could be working for farms and stations, for example, as a farmhands, machinery operators or helping to muster cattle, or in agribusiness and livestock consulting. You could also work for government in their quarantine and import/exports industry.

Best career/education pathway: Specialised Agriculture and Farm Management schools and private internships are available around the country. A veterinary qualification will also be helpful. Volunteer work experience positions within farms and stations are also highly recommended.

Where can I get a job?: Working with the animals on farms, stations, or other intensive production facilities. Jobs are available within abattoirs and government/quarantine (AQIS) facilities.

 

6. Zoos and conservation

animal care jobs - zoo-keeperAbout the field: A zoo is an exciting and fulfilling area to work in with the possibility of working with a variety of exotic, zoo and wildlife animals, all while contributing to the conservation efforts and enrichment of their lives!

Roles available: You could be working closely with the zoo animals as zoo keepers, as experts in breeding or conservation programs, or as veterinarians, veterinary nurses or animal assistants. You may find yourself in a research role, such as jobs as biologists, ornithologists, herpetologists or horticulturalist (and the list goes on!)

Best career/education pathway: Completing a Certificate III or IV in Captive Animals or a Certificate IV in veterinary nursing will benefit you in this very competitive field. A large amount of dedication to volunteering and practical work experience will be required. You may be interested in completing a university degree in Biology, Veterinary Medicine, Environmental Science or Conservation.

Where can I get a job?: There are many zoos, aquariums and wildlife sanctuaries across the globe. Both overseas and locally, there are endless volunteer and work positions in welfare and humanitarian organisations and charities. There are several government and conservation councils in Australia, and even environmental work within the mining industry.