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Five jobs for people who love animals

vet examines the dogWorking with animals appeals to many people. Whether you fancy being a zoologist or zoo keeper, vet, dog groomer or animal welfare officer, we’ve found five jobs that are animal magic.

As you would expect, zookeepers look after animals in zoos and safari parks – feeding them, cleaning their enclosures and checking them for signs of illness or distress.

Work is usually carried out on a shift system, seven days a week, with on-the-job training provided by employers leading to diplomas and NVQs in animal care.

As well as being gentle and patient with animals, the role calls for good people skills, as zookeepers often have to deal with the public.

Qualifications required: Perhaps surprisingly, there are no formal qualifications demanded to work as a zookeeper – although some employers expect applicants to have GCSEs. A driving licence is required by most.

Salary: Starting salaries range from £10k to £16.5k, while senior roles might pay £17k to £24k.

Dog groomer
Dogs might be man’s best friend, but not every man (or woman) wants to clean and care for their pooch’s coat – which is where dog groomers come in.

If you have a good way with animals and don’t mind getting your hands dirty, you might want to earn a living cutting or clipping dogs’ fur, trimming their claws and giving them a shampoo.

Groomers also have to check dogs for fleas, parasites and signs of disease or ill health, and some specialise in certain breeds such as poodles, which may need to be trimmed into specific shapes.

Qualifications required: No specific academic qualifications are required and people tend to enter the job by either working alongside a more experienced groomer or taking a private training course in which they also receive practical training and experience.

The Pet Industry Federation recommends obtaining a City & Guilds Level 3 Diploma in Dog Grooming. Self employed groomers will need public liability insurance.

Salary: Dog groomers can expect to earn £12k to £18k per year. Self-employed groomers may charge £25 to £70 an hour depending on their experience and reputation.

Veterinary surgeon
Most vets work in general practice treating pets, farm animals and zoo animals. The work involves diagnosing and treating animals, advising owners, neutering animals and putting injured or terminally ill animals to sleep.

As well as being good with animals, would-be vets also need to be good at dealing with people, as they are likely to meet upset and emotional owners – and will sometimes have to take difficult decisions and be firm about them.

Qualifications required: Vets need a degree qualification from a university recognised by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons – with courses lasting five or six years depending on the establishment.

Salary: Newly qualified vets can expect to earn around £29k, with more experienced ones getting in the region of £44k. Senior partners in a practice can earn more than £50k.

Zoology is the scientific study of animals. As you might expect, it is a wide-ranging and highly varied field of work – from developing and testing drugs and conserving endangered species to improving livestock for agriculture.

Most zoologists will have a specialisation and their work could be based in the field or in a lab or office environment.

A methodical approach is required, along with a talent for problem solving, good communication and IT skills and the ability to work effectively within a team.

Qualifications required: A degree in a subject such as zoology, animal ecology, animal behaviour or conservation is required to work as a zoologist – and volunteering in conservation projects or an area related to the field in which you hope to gain employment can improve your job prospects.

Salary: Starting salaries range from £21k to £25k, with senior research or education staff potentially earning up to £45k.

Animal welfare inspector
If you’ve got a good way with animals, as well as people, then you might make a good RSPCA or SSPCA inspector, provided you also have a strong stomach and a firm manner when necessary.

The job allows you to make an immediate difference to animals’ lives and involves investigating complaints about cruelty or neglect and advising or taking action against animal owners.

Inspectors work with the police, council staff and other officials – checking kennels, circuses, race meetings and rescuing wild or domestic animals in distress. It may also involve putting animals down when it is the best option.

Qualifications required: Five GCSEs from grade A to C are the only academic requirements, but applicants need to have good physical fitness, must be able to swim 50 metres in their clothes and have to possess a full UK driving licence. Experience of working with animals is also vital – and is usually gained in a voluntary role.

Salary: Trainee inspectors earn just over £19k – with qualified staff getting £24k to £27k.

Note: All salary information is taken from the National Careers Service

Image: © V&P Photo Studio –

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