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I Want to Work With Animals

Updated on June 6, 2018
Ben Reed profile image

Ben has held a life-long interest in language and has a special interest in the expressions, phrases and idioms that contribute to its use.

Working With Animals

At some point in our lives, most of us will have entertained the idea of working with animals as a career choice. Relatively few go on to actually achieve this. The most common reason is probably the harsh realization that many jobs working with animals are generally poorly paid, not a problem for those of us who first venture to want to work with animals whilst still very young, but as the harsh realities of making ends meet and providing for our families start to dawn upon us, many people have to put aside their preferred career choice and look for something that better meets their financial needs.

Of course, if your dream is to become a Veterinary Surgeon or an Animal Behaviourist, then such financial concerns are probably not going to apply. There still however, remains a lot of people with a genuine and heartfelt urge to fulfill their ambition of working with animals, but who through no fault of their own, cannot pursue such a career choice.

For the majority of animal lovers, a different career with animals is likely to be chosen. This article provides information on a variety of jobs working with animals that may satisfy your cravings to pursue such a rewarding occupation.

Giving an Animal a Helping Hand

People helping a thirsty dog
People helping a thirsty dog

Animal Attendant

The term animal attendant can cover a broad and varied number of jobs. These range from activities such as looking after animals in shelters or rescue organizations, to working in stables, pet shops, veterinary clinics and zoos. An animal attendant will be occupied with tasks such as feeding, grooming, exercising and disinfecting kennels and cages.

No formal education or previous training is usually required for these positions as people are usually trained on the job. This sector of animal care is generally the lowest paid with salaries of between £11,000 and £15,000 per year.

It is however, the easiest entry route into the animal care industry and future demand for such roles are anticipated to be high.

Knowledge, skills and attributes required:

  • to have a love of animals
  • to enjoy practical, manual work
  • to be a team player
  • to be physically fit
  • to have a patient nature with animals
  • work well with both animals and people

Animal Care Attendant - A day in the life

Pet Sitters and Dog Walkers

There has been a recent growth in this sector of animal care. Pet sitters and dog walkers who care for pets while owners are working or traveling, are now routinely seen in most towns and cities.

Fundamentally, this service is provided as an alternative to placing a dog or cat in a kennel whilst their owners are away from home. Not all dogs or cats are happy at being away from home or mixing with other animals – and not all pet owners are happy with the thought of placing their pet in a strange environment.

Cat Sitting Daily Tasks

Cat Sitting Daily Tasks Include:

  • Feed and water
  • Change the cat litter
  • Spend time interacting with a client’s cat

Cat Minder

Cat Sitting In The Home
Cat Sitting In The Home

Dog Walking For a Living

Being employed by a company to walk dogs, is likely to achieve pay levels similar to that of an animal attendant. However, this route to working with animals, is often taken by people who form their own company providing this service. As with any business, it can take some time to build up a sufficient number of clients to be able to turn this activity into a full time occupation. I researched / sampled the demand on-line for people asking for dog walkers in my area. I found that the average hourly rate being offered ranged from £8 to £20 (depending on whether or not the clients wish is to have the dog walked alone). Pet Sitters were being sought at slightly lower rates of £7 to £11 per hour. Pet sitters were being asked to spend an hour per day looking after a variety of animals whilst their owners were either at work or more usually, on holiday. These animals were most commonly, dogs and cats, but some requests were for caged birds, hamsters and rabbits.

Knowledge, skills and attributes required:

  • to be physically fit
  • to be comfortable and able to control more than one dog at time when on leash
  • to be able to recognise and understand pet behavioural issues
  • work well with both animals and people
  • to be trustworthy (you are after all in people’s homes) – usually requires a police disclosure certificate.

Dog Walking as a Career

Dog Walkers.
Dog Walkers.

Dog Walking Daily Tasks

Dog Walking Daily Tasks Include:

  • walking a dog(s) on a morning and evening
  • watering and feeding
  • spending time interacting with the dog within its own home

Logo of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.   Founded in 1824
Logo of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Founded in 1824

Animal Control Worker (RSPCA Inspector)

Different countries have different job titles for what is essentially the same type of responsibility when working with all types of animals, they will investigate mistreated animals and control those that are considered dangerous or abandoned. The term Animal Control Worker, covers a wide variety of jobs including dog wardens and animal cruelty investigators. In the USA, the term Animal Control Worker or Officer is generally used. Salaries for this vocation in the USA vary depending on which State they are in and range from around $35,000 to $64,000. The main difference in their role is that they will themselves euthanize animals where necessary, whilst in the UK, this activity is generally carried by a veterinarian.

In the UK, most people will associate this job title with working for the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Protection of Animals). Re-numeration for those employed in the role of RSPCA Inspector starts at around £15,000. As a fully trained inspector you can expect a salary of around £22,000 with chief inspectors earning up to £26,000

RSPCA Entry Requirements Include:

  • 5 GCSE’s at grade C or above including English and Maths
  • a full driving licence
  • proven experience in managing confrontational situations
  • experience of working with animals
  • ability to work anywhere in the country

Skills Required:

  • people skills (dealing with emotional and stressful situations)
  • be physically fit (working in unusual and challenging environments) as well as lifting and carrying animals and equipment
  • hold a driving licence (the RSPCA carry out a driving assessment test as part of their training)
  • work unsociable hours (evenings and weekends)
  • be a good swimmer (The RSPCA carry out a swimming assessment during your early training) – the job includes working in and around water.

Could you be an RSPCA inspector?

Dog Groomer

Dog Groomers provide a range of services aimed at improving the hygiene and appearance of dogs, including shampooing, trimming dogs coats and clipping their nails. Many dog groomers are self- employed and some provide a mobile service for those pet owners who are unable to attend a dog grooming parlour themselves. As a dog groomer, you will need to be aware of how the different dog breeds look and how the different styles of clipping are applied to different dogs.

Salaries for this occupation can vary. If working for someone else, then you can expect a starting salary of between £13,000 and £14,000 in the UK. This is likely to rise circa £19,000 as you become more experienced. As a self-employed dog groomer you might expect to charge £25 to £70 per hour depending on the breed of dog.

No specific entry requirements – just the right aptitude.

Skills Required:

  • ability to handle dogs firmly but gently
  • ability to calm and control nervous dogs
  • patience and attention to detail
  • good communication and customer care skills

A dog being groomed
A dog being groomed

Animal Groomer Career - A day in the work life


This term covers a wide range of animals from cats, dogs and horses through to the more exotic zoo animals. Entry requirements also vary from needing no formal qualifications when looking to be a dog or cat breeder, through to requiring a Batchelor’s degree in veterinary science and or a postgraduate study in zoology when wanting to be involved with the breeding of zoo animals.

Breeding Cat and Dogs for a living.

Breeding Cats and Dogs for a living.

It may seem an easy route into fulfilling your ambition to work with animals. However, this should not be taken lightly. There are few things that you will need to consider:

  • Why do I want to breed?
  • Do I have the time and patience required?
  • Do I have the space required to run a breeding business?
  • Can I afford to establish the business - equipment, stud fees, vet bills, food and advertising?
  • Are there any local bylaws that I need to consider in setting up a breeding business?
  • Are there any official bodies / schemes that I need to join or affiliate with?
  • Is there a strong enough market to be able to sell my puppies or kittens?


The main registration body for cats in Britain is the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF). To register as a breeder with the GCCF you will need to have a unique prefix that will be used as the first word of the names of all kittens that you register, and will be completely unique to you.


The registration body for dogs in Britain is the Kennel Club. As a dog breeder, being a member of the Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme is important. This scheme promotes good breeding practice and aims to work together with breeders and buyers to force irresponsible breeders, or puppy farmers, out of business. Additionally, being a part of this scheme enables responsible breeders to use the scheme literature and logo to promote their litters.

Animal Breeders Job Description


There are a surprising number of opportunities available for those wanting to work with animals. Not all require formal qualifications or years of study. The downside to not going along the highly qualified route is that the financial return is lower. However, for many, the desire to work with animals is not driven by the monetary return, but more by the joy and satisfaction that they get from interacting with, and helping animals and their owners. It should also be remembered that for those involved in those areas of animal care that involve protection and rehabilitation, it can be very challenging and distressing. This career choice can also be very rewarding.


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    • Ben Reed profile imageAUTHOR

      Ben Reed 

      8 months ago from Redcar

      There are so many options available for animal lovers. Lots of them involve work that seems to slip from our day-to-day view - but which are vital for the well being of our pets.

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 

      8 months ago from Ohio

      I always loved animals, but I ended up being a nurse. I wonder if my back would stand the rigors of working with them now. Great article on the different jobs available!


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