Animal Care Worker Careers

How to become an animal care worker

What does an animal care worker do?

Animal care workers are involved in the welfare, handling and supervision of a range of small animals, and the associated administrative duties. They provide food, water and exercise, and make sure the animals’ environments are hygienic and safe. They also contribute to the animals' wellbeing and health by grooming and applying treatments, and sometimes help to move and restrain them.

If you love animals and enjoy spending time with them and ensuring their welfare is taken care of, then this may be a role you'll excel in. 

Animal care workers may work in a variety of settings, including kennels, catteries, rescue centres, sanctuaries, pet shops and open farms. In many cases, animal care workers deal with customers and callers regularly, developing business relationships with them and acting as receptionists. In most roles, they gather, provide and record information and may liaise with veterinary staff.

Animal care workers also work as animal welfare assistants at Blue Cross adoption centres, animal collection officers for the RSPCA, kennel assistants at quarantine centres and animal care auxiliaries at animal hospitals.

What's the working environment like for an animal care worker?

Animal care workers usually work 40 hours a week, generally starting early in the morning. Shifts can be variable, and weekend and night work is common. Part-time work may be available.

Cleaning kennels and other animal accommodation can involve a lot of bending and standing in dirty conditions. Animal care workers may have to work outdoors in all weathers.

A driving licence will be useful for some jobs.

What does it take to become an animal care worker?

To be an animal care worker you should:

  • be interested in animal health and welfare and not be overly sentimental
  • have emotional and physical stamina
  • have commitment and common sense
  • be able to work under pressure
  • be able to deal kindly, but firmly with the public
  • be able to take initiative or work in a team
  • be confident in using computers, in order to access animals’ records.

Though there are no set requirements for entry into this role, some employers may ask for GCSEs. Experience handling and working with animals is always advantageous as well as any addition training in animal care. This can be taken at a college or a training provider. 

There may be opportunities to gain entry through an apprenticeship too. 

Animal care worker career opportunities

Experienced animal care workers may be able to progress to centre management. There are also opportunities for self-employment. Some animal care workers move into related animal care careers. They may become dog trainers, breeders or groomers; RSPCA or SSPCA inspectors; or veterinary nurses.


Further information

If you would like to learn more about becoming an animal care worker that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Wilberforce Way
West Sussex
RH13 9RS
Tel: 0870 333 5999

Blue Cross
Shilton Road
OX18 4PF
Tel: 01993 822651

Whitechapel Way
Tel: 0800 917 2509

Volunteering England

Volunteer Scotland

Animal Care College
Ascot House
High Street
Tel: 0870 730 8433

College of Animal Welfare
London Road
PE29 2LJ
Tel: 0870 062 1122