RSPCA / SSPCA inspector

How to become a RSPCA / SSPCA inspector

What does a RSPCA / SSPCA inspector do?

RSPCA inspectors (SSPCA inspectors in Scotland) carry out rescues, investigate neglect and cruelty complaints and bring perpetrators to court if necessary. They inspect animal establishments and events such as circuses, agricultural shows and race meetings, administer first aid and give advice. In some cases they may have to carry out animal euthanasia.

They liaise with other professionals, such as social services and local authority personnel, the police, veterinary surgeons and dog wardens.

Many of the cases inspectors deal with turn out to be neglect rather than cruelty. Neglect may be through ignorance, so inspectors will offer advice to enable people to improve the way they care for their animals.

If the owner has criminally mistreated the animal, inspectors enforce the law and give evidence in court. This will involve gathering evidence by collecting animals, interviewing owners, witnesses and vets to collect statements, and possibly photographing or videoing the scene.

The RSPCA also employs animal collection officers who collect, secure and transport animals who are injured or sick, or need to be removed from threatening or dangerous locations. They assist with animal rescues, and may have to carry out animal euthanasia.

The SSPCA employs auxiliary inspectors who cover remote parts of Scotland and are trained to assess situations and decide whether an inspector needs to attend.


What's the working environment like for a RSPCA / SSPCA inspector?

RSPCA inspectors provide 24-hour cover, working shifts totalling 35 hours a week. Weekends, nights and bank holidays are covered on a rota. SSPCA inspectors work a 37.5-hour week. In some areas they have a shift system for weekends, bank holidays, and evenings or nights.

Inspectors work both indoors and outdoors in all weather conditions. Rescue work can involve some dangers, such as climbing to retrieve animals from trees or from floods. Unpleasant and distressing sights and situations are common.

RSPCA inspectors must be prepared to be posted anywhere in England or Wales. SSPCA inspectors may work anywhere in Scotland.


What does it take to become a RSPCA / SSPCA inspector?

To be an RSPCA or SSPCA inspector you should:

  • have excellent communication skills and the ability to handle confrontational situations
  • be able to think logically and judge situations accurately
  • have the emotional strength to deal with distressing situations
  • have a responsible attitude towards health and safety
  • be able to work in a team and have the initiative to work alone
  • have the manual skills to handle animals and equipment.

There may be cases where you might need to swim so having the ability to swim fully clothed is advantageous. In terms of qualifications and experience, five GCSEs which includes English and maths between A* to C grades are preferred as well as experience taking care of animals. 

When looking to work as a RSPCA / SSPCA inspector you will need to pass a background check by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).


RSPCA / SSPCA inspector career opportunities

The RSPCA employs about 300 inspectors, based all around England and Wales. Each year they have about 20 vacancies for new inspectors, for which they receive about 2,000 applications. The SSPCA employs around 50 inspectors and chief inspectors based all over Scotland. They recruit about three new inspectors each year and get in the region of 600 applications.

Vacancies are advertised in the local and national press.

Promotion is to chief inspector, managing a team of five to ten inspectors, and then to regional superintendent and on to management or training posts in headquarters.

In Scotland the promotion route is to senior inspector, chief inspector, superintendent and chief superintendent.

Inspectors can also volunteer to work with a small international team who travel abroad training inspectors in other countries, and helping with rescues after emergencies such as oil spillages, floods or volcanic eruptions.

A few inspectors undertake covert work, which includes infiltrating groups who run dog fights or badger baiting to gather evidence in order to prosecute them.


Further information

If you would like to learn more about becoming a RSPCA / SSPCA inspector that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Chief Superintendent (Training)
Wilberforce Way
West Sussex
RH13 9RS

Braehead Mains
603 Queensferry Road
Tel: 0131 339 0222

Volunteering England

Volunteer Scotland



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