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Working with Animals
If you enjoy being around animals, you should consider a career working with them.
Working with animals is among today’s most rewarding careers. You’ll be responsible for their health and well-being, whether you’re tending to their health, cleaning their environment, or educating other people about them.
Where could I get a job working with animals?
As animals and pets become more popular than ever, the animal job market continues to grow, providing room for advancing in your chosen industry.
To get you started, here are some job paths involving animals.
Working in a veterinary surgery
A good place to begin is your local veterinary surgery. Vets often hire veterinary assistants to help with day-to-day tasks. For this position, you need a love of animals and knowledge of animal care.
As a veterinary assistant, you’ll take on a variety of activities. You may work at the front desk, behind the scenes, in the examination rooms, or a combination of each. Your duties may include scheduling appointments, checking customers in and out of the office, and answering the phone.
You might also feed and water the animals that have been kept overnight, or clean the kennels. Or you might perform initial examinations, such as taking weight and filling in charts. Patience and compassion are essential, especially when dealing with sick or injured pets and their owners.
Within the veterinary world, there’s opportunity to move up from assistant to vet nurse or office manager. When you advance to these positions, you take on more responsibility and become more specialised in your work. Break into this exciting and growing field by taking courses in animal care and securing a job as a veterinary assistant.
Working at a kennel or shelter
Kennels and shelters also require hands-on involvement with animals. Kennels and shelters deal primarily with small animals such as dogs and cats, but each place is different.
Typically, a kennel cares for animals temporarily, while the animal’s owner is away from home. People who work in a kennel are often responsible for providing the animals with food, water, exercise and a clean cage or pen. They must also keep an eye on the animals’ health and well-being, and are often required to keep records.
A position within a kennel may also include interacting with customers to agree the animals’ arrival and departure dates and special requests.
Animal shelters also house animals; however, they tend to specifically cater for lost or homeless pets. At a shelter, workers are responsible for caring for the animals. They provide meals, exercise and a clean environment to animals in need.
Perhaps most significantly, animal shelter employees offer companionship to homeless animals. Employees of an animal shelter may also work to educate the public, find adoptive homes for animals, and keep accurate records.
Working in a zoo
If wild animals are more your taste, consider working at a zoo or game reserve. As a zoo keeper, you’ll be taking care of the animals and their habitat. You may prepare and serve food as well as maintain their water supply. You might also take care of their living space by cleaning and making repairs as needed.
Moreover, you’ll be responsible for checking in on the animal, and taking note of its health and behaviour. Zoo keepers often assist veterinarians or trainers with their visits. At a zoo, you might also spend time with the public, providing education. A background in animal care and attention to detail are necessary for working as a zoo keeper.
As you gain more experience at a zoo, you’ll be given more responsibility and opportunity for further specialisation.
Working at a pet store
Pet stores also provide employment opportunities with animals. At a pet store, you’ll take care of the animals’ basic needs before they are sold. You’ll need to work with customers, providing them with advice and information on pets and products.
In any animal-related work environment, you should always expect the unexpected. Each animal is unique and responds differently to situations, which means that workers must remain alert at all times. However, this aspect of chance assures that animal workers experience something new everyday, preventing a dull work life.
What skills do I need to work with animals?
Jobs with animals often require varying degrees of physical labour. Workers are often on their feet for long amounts of time. Sometimes they lift cages, restrain animals or clean messes. A reasonable amount of strength and stamina is expected of most animal workers.
Working with animals also demands emotional strength. You may encounter an ill or injured animal, and you shouldn't let your emotions take over. You should remain calm and patient, especially in times of stress. Animals respond best to those who know when to be quiet and respectful.
Many of the jobs with animals require contact with the public. So you need to be confident and knowledgeable in animal care. You may have to advise people on how to handle issues with their pets. You may also have to educate people on different animal-related topics.
If you’re naturally an animal person, these challenges only make a job with animals more rewarding. You can rest assured that you're making a positive impact in the lives of others through your dedication and work with animals.
Preparing for a career in animal care
To prepare for a career that entails working with animals, consider taking a course in animal care. Courses will give you the knowledge and confidence you need to competitively enter the animal job market. However, going to college can be time consuming and stressful, especially if you’re already working at another job.
One option is to register on a distance learning course. Through a course in animal care, you can complete your studies in your free time without sacrificing your everyday life.
Regardless of which job with animals you choose, prepare for an exciting career. Few fields offer as many challenges and rewards as working with animals.
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