If you’re considering a career in animal care, it’s important to know what your options are before you commit to a career path that may not be right for you. Animal care is a catch-all term that includes everything from preventing animal cruelty and conservation to kennelling and zookeeping.
Each career is distinctly different, as is the learning journey you’ll take to get there. But all share a common desire to protect animals and their habitats from harm.
You could work with big cats, apes or exotic predators as a zookeeper or conservation biologist in Africa. Or you could fight against breeding farms and neglect of domestic pets as an animal licensing inspector.
There are so many ways you can shape your career around animal care. One of the hardest battles is simply picking the avenue you want to go down.
Whether your interests lie in marine biology or animal life on home ground, there’s an online course to help you.
Find out more about the various sectors involved in animal care and the different roles you can pursue. Plus, the animal care courses that will give you the skills needed for each job.
Animal Care Sectors
There are many ways you can get involved with animal care. The various sectors have different focuses, so, with a little research, you may find one that aligns with your particular interests.
Wildlife conservation is the protection of animals from the human population as it encroaches on their habitats. It aims to keep the ecosystem balanced and stable, to ensure the survival of all life. Conservation in the UK can range from the preservation of the urban hedgehog to reintroducing red squirrels to certain environments. Abroad, activities include African wildlife conservation. Where conservationists work against illegal trade, poachers and hunters of exotic species.
The non-profit sector refers to the many animal charities that protect, defend and support domestic and wild animals. Generally, these are categorised into three areas:
Animal Rights, Welfare, and Services
Any society or service that is humane. Such as organisations protecting animals from cruelty and exploitation, animal training groups, speciality services and no-kill shelters.
Bird, fish and wildlife refuges and sanctuaries, plus groups researching wildlife protection and conservation globally.
Zoos and Aquariums
Charity operated aquariums, zoos and zoological societies.
Nature reserves are places where wildlife is protected and undisturbed. At times involving the restoration of old-time land management practices that originally helped wildlife to thrive. Examples of nature reserves could be anything from bogs and caves to mountains and lakes.
The provision of health-care, control and animal ambulance activities primarily for farm animals and pets.
Roles in Animal Care
Just as there are many animal care sectors you can work in, the array of roles within these are just as varied. Browse some of the popular choices within each sector and the courses you can study to get started.
Also often referred to as an assistant. Providing care for dogs and cats in settings like boarding establishments, animal rescue organisations, breeding, assistance dog or racing kennels. Daily duties include preparing food, feeding, exercise, grooming, cleaning out kennels and cat pens, record keeping and other administrative tasks.
Responsible for the daily operations of kennels & catteries and the care of the animals kept under their supervision. Daily duties include coordinating and overseeing operations, developing and enforcing policies and procedures, hiring, training, and supervising other kennel workers.
Online courses in kennel and cattery management can help you kick start your career.
Nature Conservation Field Officer
Professionals who work to protect, manage and enhance the local environment. Depending on your location, you could also be involved with marine habitats. In this role, you’ll encourage people to use the countryside while promoting awareness and understanding of its natural environment. Shining a light on environmental issues, nature conservation work, implementing biodiversity action plans and developing policies.
A scientist who studies their surrounding climate to assess environmental trends, population density, plant and wildlife living in the area. After determining what they are working with, their focus is on finding ways to restore and maintain a healthy ecosystem. They are often employed by government agencies as consultants.
Courses like those in marine and African wildlife and conservation would be a great place to start.
Wildlife care & rehabilitation
Countryside Warden or Ranger
A countryside warden or park ranger works in designated areas conducting wildlife surveys and maintaining wildlife habitats. This can include tree planting, maintaining footpaths and bridleways, and educating visitors about the environment.
Temporarily caring and treating injured, sick or orphaned wildlife to improve their chances of survival and re-entry to the wild. Human assistance is typically required as a result of interaction with man-made environments. You’ll restrain the animal and provide any on-site treatment required. Before providing physical therapy and exercise sessions for the animals in your care.
Study wildlife rehabilitation and wildlife animal behaviour to get the skills you need.
Small animal care
Animal Welfare Officer
An Animal Welfare Officer enforces the law and educates people on ways to prevent animal cruelty. Usually, after complaints they receive which are followed up to make sure no animals are being mistreated. Inspecting commercial and residential properties, removing and re-homing any at-risk animals that are recovered. They prepare cases for court hearings and source appropriate care and treatment for neglected animals.
Veterinary Nursing Assistant
Assistants who work alongside other veterinary professionals to care for various animals. Depending on your location these may be small domesticated pets or large livestock breeds and wild animals. Daily duties include the general upkeep of the veterinary practice, sterilising equipment and performing administrative tasks. Plus, educating owners on effective animal care for their pets.
As a zookeeper, you'll generally specialise in the care of one type of animal or section of the zoo. You could be working with African animals, apes, penguins or reptiles. Understanding the needs of those in your care and ensuring their welfare, enrichment and the conservation of their species. You’ll also educate the public about the zoo’s inhabitants.
Depending on your type of role, you could be based in a lab, outdoors in the field or remote overseas locations. Most zoologists specialise in one area, becoming a herpetologist, mammologist, ornithologist, paleozoologist or parasitologist. You’ll study animals and their behaviour, such as their anatomy, classification, distribution, evolution and physiology. Your work can help in many ways, from controlling pests and diseases to improving livestock and crops in agriculture.
Start with an online course
With so many options in animal care, it’s well worth taking the time to find the right course.
learndirect, provide an array of online courses that take you from an animal enthusiast to a skilled animal care professional. As the leading UK distance learning provider, you can be assured you’ll receive a quality education.
All our animal courses are carefully designed in consultation with employers. To enhance career and employment prospects within the animal care, conservation and environmental sectors.
What’s more, they are studied online so you can fit them around your lifestyle. Allowing you to learn alongside your work and family commitments.
Find the course that will help you get on track to your ideal career. Simply click below to browse the many courses we have available in our animal faculty.