Apprentice animal care workers look after animals in kennels, rescue centres, and sanctuaries. All responsibilities include grooming and exercising animals, providing food and cleaning out housing, answering employee and visitor queries, and ensuring animal enclosure maintenance.
You may care for dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, and guinea pigs, among other animals. In addition, you may care for donkeys, horses, or even parrots.
If you work in an animal sanctuary or rescue centre, some animals may arrive injured or distressed, so you must work hard to keep them calm. You must be empathetic and confident while dealing with them during their treatment.
Some jobs need you to keep records, make reservations, and teach owners how to care for their pets.
Throughout your apprenticeship, you may help:
- 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.
- Starting as an apprentice animal care worker, you can expect £14,000 per year.
- Typical starting salaries for qualified and experienced animal care workers is £24,000 per year.
Because animals need to be cared for seven days a week, you may be asked to work shifts. As a result, hours may begin early in the morning, and you may be required to work late into the evenings or on weekends and on average you’ll be working 38 to 40 hours per week.
Qualifications you can achieve on an animal care worker apprenticeship include:
Level 2 Animal Care and Welfare Assistant – Entry requirements for this level include some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship.
This qualification typically takes around 12 months to complete.
On on an animal care worker apprenticeship, you’ll learn:
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- the ability to use your initiative
- to be flexible and open to change
- patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- the ability to work well with others
- the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
- customer service skills
- excellent verbal communication skills
- to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device.
The main employers of apprentice animal care workers are:
- mixed veterinary practices
- animal hospitals
- animal charities and welfare societies, such as the RSPCA, PDSA, The Blue Cross
Career path and progression
You might advance to the supervisor or manager role with time and experience.
You may establish your own business, such as dog walking, puppy training, or pet sitting. You may open your kennels or cattery or create an animal rescue organisation.
You might also use your skills to further your career in animal care by working in a wildlife park or conservation centre. Opportunities in animal training, such as working as an assistance dog instructor, may also exist.