If you love animals and would like to make the world a better place for them, you'll find an assortment of careers to choose from
Are there many animal-focused jobs in the UK for graduates?
There are animal jobs involving caring for and treating animals directly, with veterinary nurse and veterinary surgeon both popular options. The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), which has more than 20,000 members in the UK, has a step-by-step guide to joining the profession at RCVS - Veterinary Careers.
To become a vet, you'll need to hold a related degree that's approved by the RCVS. For instance, you could study the RCVS-approved five-year BVMSci Veterinary Medicine and Science at the University of Surrey and become a veterinary surgeon.
The UK is home to a number of zoos, from Paignton Zoo in Devon up to Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland, and safari parks, such as Knowsley Safari Park in Merseyside and West Midlands Safari Park in Worcestershire. In terms of careers, you could manage the zoo's day-to-day operations or ensure the wellbeing of animals. Typical roles include zoologist and zookeeper.
In addition to taking on students and graduates to care for their animals, wildlife charities also require fundraisers to champion the good work they do. Among the more hands-on animal jobs are animal nutritionist, animal physiotherapist and animal technician.
However, there are many other careers working with animals, including joining the Army, processing animals in quarantine at airports and working in pet stores.
To find out what roles are currently in demand, search all animal and plant resources jobs.
Where can I find animal care jobs?
For many animal care organisations, you can apply for advertised roles via their website - or through specialist jobs boards, such as Animal Jobs Direct.
The government's executive Animal and Plant Health Agency, which aims to safeguard animal and plant health, provides details of how its vacancies are advertised at Working for APHA. One agency role involves overseeing pets put in quarantine as they travel to and from the UK.
If you'd like to become an Army Medical Service veterinary technician, you'll have to apply via its website. Those who successfully make it through the application process will undergo 14 weeks of military training to become a soldier at its Winchester or Pirbright sites, before progressing to the Defence Animal Centre at Melton Mowbray. Here, you'll learn veterinary nursing skills, military dog handling skills and how to manage veterinary equipment.
Other job sites advertising roles working with animals include:
How can I work for an animal charity?
With a large number of animal charities in the UK, you'll find a range of jobs advertised on their websites.
If you want to work for the Blue Cross, you could choose to work on:
- the clinical side (veterinary surgeon or veterinary nurse)
- rehoming (animal welfare assistant)
- fundraising, marketing and communications (database services officer)
- strategic planning (data and insights analyst).
Other large organisations in this sector offer similar opportunities. The RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) provides job profiles showing candidates the various careers they could go into.
You could work at one of the RSPCA's animal or wildlife centres. You could start out as an animal collection officer, progress to become an animal welfare officer and finally an RSPCA inspector, saving mistreated and abandoned animals.
What animal care apprenticeships are available?
A range of recruiters offer animal apprenticeships, from local veterinary surgeries and animal charities to zoos and wildlife parks.
The RSPCA offers apprenticeships from Levels 2 to 6 (GCSE to degree) in animal centres, working directly with animals or in office-based support roles. Learn more at RSPCA - Apprenticeships.
More unusual animal apprenticeships include becoming a dog groomer for Pets At Home, where you'll spend 13 months working for its Groom Room. The pet supplies retailer also offers apprenticeships at Levels 2 to 7 in its support office and distribution operations, where you could focus on an area such as customer service, finance, human resources, warehousing, supply chain or marketing.
There's also the chance to receive a Level 2 or 3 apprenticeship qualification as a Dog Handler for the Army Medical Service.
How do I start a wildlife conservation career?
Wildlife conservation is an issue that's been brought to the fore in recent years. TV programmes such as the BBC's Seven Worlds, One Planet and Dynasties highlight the need to protect the earth's dwindling resources and ensure threatened species can continue to live alongside humans in their natural habitats.
It's not just far-off places that require workers to champion these causes, as many opportunities to work in this area exist within the UK.
As a major employer in the field, The Wildlife Trusts needs conservation officers to tackle planning issues that concern the nation's wildlife and landscape. Alternatively, you could become a fundraiser for the charity organisation. The part-time countryside assistant position is an entry-level role that gives you the opportunity to work outdoors and share knowledge of the countryside.
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has a number of vacancies, including roles in public relations (PR), IT and project management.
Can I volunteer and gain work experience?
Most animal care charities take on volunteers all year round, so if you're looking to enter the profession and gain experience while still at university, visit the websites of organisations you're most passionate about to find opportunities.
For instance, those aged 16 or over can work for the National Animal Welfare Trust at one of its animal rehoming centres. During a two-week placement you could work with cats, dogs and other small animals in preparation for a career as a vet.
From September 2022 the British Wildlife Centre in Surrey will be offering one-week placements for students aged 18+ on a recognised animal management course.
The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust accepts university placement or sandwich students to work with them for one year. They take on around 14 students who are tasked with studying insects, mammals and birds. They also host research projects from Masters students at selected universities.
The Animal Careers Programme (ACP), developed by top animal care industry experts, is an employer-led training, development and employability programme. Those who enrol onto the ACP receive full in-depth pre-employment training before entering into work experience.
There are also many volunteering opportunities available both in the UK and abroad. To read more about what's available, see volunteering with animals.
Find out more
- See what else the environment and agriculture sector has to offer.