Careers with animals

Careers with animals

There’s a common saying that you should never work with animals. Try telling that to a Penguinologist…

Whether you’ve got a passion for your penguins, you’re crazy about your cats or you have an almost unhealthy love of llamas, working with animals could be the perfect career move for you.

Want to work with beautiful creatures? Here are some of the top careers with animals:

Animal Care Assistant

Animal Care Assistants work in kennels, catteries, rescue centres, shelters, and a host of other establishments, to help look after the animals. This could involve feeding, cleaning, exercising and playing with the animals to help create a safe and happy environment for them to live in.

Key skills include being confident handling animals, patience, and a willingness to get your hands dirty. Being good at belly rubs and the ability to scratch behind ears are also desirable.

Will I need a degree? No. However, some experience working with animals may be necessary. Try volunteering at a local centre if you feel you need to put your skills into practice.

Perfect for: People who handle with care.

Avoid if: You’re allergic to being covered in fur.

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Dog Handler

Always dreamed of finding a career that combines a passion for helping to fight crime with your love of taking long and satisfying walks with your dog? We have found the right role for you.

This role involves working with dogs who are professionals in their field, helping to control crowds, find missing people, and locate illegal substances. It’s a job that requires hard work, dedication and courage, which is worth bearing in mind if you get nervous in high-pressure situations.

Because a Dog Handler job is for life, not just for Christmas…*

Will I need a degree? No.

Perfect for: People who feel most comfortable making four legged friends.

Avoid if: The only dog you like has the first name Snoop.

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Yes. This is actually a thing. Well, kind of.

Essentially, a Penguinologist is a Zooologist with a specific interest in all things black and white. It involves extensive research into the natural habitat of Penguins (surprisingly, not igloos – as some lying children’s animations would have you believe) and you will need to obtain a doctorate in order to really call yourself a Penguinolgist.

Although it will take years of research in freezing cold conditions, and job opportunities may be limited, it’s certainly worth working towards for those that love all things penguin-related.

What’s more, the hard work will also feel well worth it when it comes to dominating conversation at social gatherings. ‘Oh, you’re a Rocket Scientist you say. That’s pretty impressive…’

Will I need a degree? Absolutely. A doctorate will also probably be necessary.

Perfect for: People who want to work in Antarctica.

Avoid if: You fell asleep during Happy Feet.

Riding Instructor

Feel like your career has slowed from a gallop to a trot? Ready to remount for the ride of your life? Want us to stop writing horse riding-related puns?

If you’re a bit of a hippophile (definitely the word for a lover of horses), working as a Riding Instructor could be the perfect career move for you. It’s their job to teach people of all ages and abilities how to ride horses, whether it’s for competitions or just for fun.

You’ll have to get up early, and be great at teaching and motivating your pupils, both human and equine (the latter part is often easier). You will also have to look good in a helmet, and know how to correctly put on a pair of jodhpurs.

Want to work with horses? Yay or neigh? We’ll stop now…

Will I need a degree? No. However, you will need a qualification from a professional organisation, such as the British Horse Society (BHS) to get started.

Perfect for: People who want to jump right in the saddle.

Avoid if: The only horse you’ve ever ridden was part of a merry-go-round.


If you’re a proud pet owner, you’ll be well aware of just how important a good Veterinary Surgeon can be.

What you may not be aware of, however, is just how lucrative a career in this industry can be. You can earn anywhere in the region of £50,000, not to mention put your passion for pets to good use. And by put to good use, we mean in a strictly surgical sense.

So if you want to help animals live longer and happier lives, and you don’t mind the sight of blood, why not become a vet? Fans of James Herriot also welcome.

Will I need a degree? Yes, you will have a degree from a veterinary school.

Perfect for: People who want to bring sick animals back to health.

Avoid if: You’ve never got over the devastating loss of your hamster.

How to become a Vet »

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Zoo keeper

Arguably one of the most popular job titles that children aspire to be, and a perfect fit for those that like their animals on the exotic side.

Aside from the standard lions, tigers and bears, you could care for anything from a melancholy marmoset to Madagascan hissing cockroaches. You’ll get to prepare food, observe the animals and even give talks to visitors to help with the overall experience. But don’t be fooled, the job certainly isn’t easy. Just ask Mr. Benn.

It also involves working with vets to help sick animals, and regularly cleaning out animal enclosures. Those with a sensitive sense of smell need not apply.

Will I need a degree? No. Training will usually be provided as part of the job.

Perfect for: People who spend most of their time watching David Attenborough documentaries.

Avoid if: You usually head straight for the gift shop.

Honourable mentions: Dog Walker, Marine Biologist, Zoologist, Animal Presenter (possibly on a show co-hosted by Michaela Strachan)

* cannot guarantee this job will last for life. Job security will be on a case-by-case basis.

Ready to find your perfect career with animals? Start searching now.

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