Animal Care Worker

Job Description:

Animal care workers look after animals in kennels, rescue centres and sanctuaries.

Job Category:
Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing

What you will do:

You could work with domestic or wild animals to:

  • check animals daily and monitor their health
  • clean out kennels, enclosures, cages or stables
  • prepare food and help out at feeding times
  • clean and groom animals
  • look after sick or distressed animals
  • update records and deal with questions from colleagues or the public
  • make sure animals are exercised regularly


You’ll need:

  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

As well as:

  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail (leadership skills)
  • the ability to use your initiative (ambition)
  • to be flexible and open to change (adaptability skills)
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • the ability to work well with others (teamwork skills)
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • customer service skills
  • excellent verbal communication skills
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

Becoming an animal care worker generally does not require specific GCSE subjects, but there are some subjects and skills that can be helpful and advantageous in this field. Animal care workers are responsible for the well-being of animals in various settings, such as animal shelters, zoos, farms, and veterinary clinics. Here are some relevant GCSE subjects and skills that can be beneficial:

  1. Biology: A basic understanding of biology is valuable for anyone working with animals. It helps you comprehend the anatomy, physiology, and behavior of different species.
  2. Chemistry: Knowledge of chemistry can be useful, particularly in roles involving animal nutrition or the preparation and administration of medications.
  3. Mathematics: Basic math skills are important for tasks like measuring food portions, calculating medication dosages, and maintaining records of animal care.
  4. English: Strong communication skills, including reading and writing, are essential for documenting animal care procedures and effectively communicating with colleagues and, in some cases, pet owners.
  5. Animal Science: While not typically offered at the GCSE level, if your school offers any courses related to animal science or agriculture, they can provide valuable insights into animal husbandry and management.
  6. Psychology: Understanding animal behavior and psychology can be beneficial, especially when working with animals that have specific behavioral needs or challenges.

It’s important to note that many entry-level positions in animal care do not require formal education beyond GCSEs. However, some specialized roles or higher-level positions may require further education, such as a diploma or degree in animal care or a related field. Additionally, certifications in areas like pet first aid or animal behavior can enhance your qualifications and job prospects.

Post School

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • volunteering


You could take a college course in animal care.

In the UK, for example, courses include:

  • Certificate in Skills for Working in Animal Care Industries
  • Diploma in Animal Care
  • Level in Animal Care and Management
  • Award in Small Animal Care and Management


You can do an an animal care and welfare assistant intermediate apprenticeship.


It’ll help to have some experience of working with animals before you start looking for a job.

Volunteering with animal rescue, animal sanctuaries or conservation charities can sometimes lead to paid work. You may need to do jobs like fundraising or administration first, as a way to get in.

You can search for volunteering opportunities and small animal charities in your area by searching on the internet.

Career tips

Looking after your own pets, dog walking or pet sitting can be good ways of learning more about small animal care.

Working Hours and Environment:

A typical week consists of 38-40 hours of work. You could be required to work evenings/weekends/bank holidays on shifts.

You could work at an animal welfare centre, at a wildlife park or in kennels. Your working environment may be outdoors some of the time, physically demanding and dirty.

Career Path & Progression:

With experience, you could become a supervisor or manager.

You could become self-employed and run your own business like dog walking, puppy training or pet sitting. You may be able to open your own kennels or cattery or set up an animal rescue charity.

You could also use your experience to move into other animal care careers, like veterinary nursing, or find work in a conservation or wildlife park. There may also be opportunities to go into animal training, for example as an assistance dog instructor.