The United Kingdom has strict welfare regulations to protect animals used in scientific and medical research, and you will be responsible for ensuring they get the greatest possible care and well-being.
You will be essential in developing high-quality scientific research in drug development and alternative diagnostic approaches. At a higher level, you may be directly involved in experimental activity, assisting researchers with creating research project tasks.
The working environment may alter depending on the species you care for and the research you do.
Throughout your apprenticeship, you may help:
- provide exercise, food and water to the animals
- carry out regular observations
- make sure that animals are clean and comfortable
- control heating, lighting and humidity
- monitor animals’ weight and behaviour
- follow hygiene rules in the facility
- keep accurate records.
- Trainee apprentice animal technicians earn salaries of £14,000 to £17,000.
- Salaries for trained technicians with at least two years’ experience range from £19,000 to £28,000.
- In a more senior role, such as animal technologist or senior animal technologist, your salary is likely to be between £20,000 and £30,000.
- Facility managers or specialists with high levels of responsibility can earn between £30,000 and £55,000.
As an apprentice animal technician, you will typically work 37 hours per week. As animal care is required around the clock, this frequently involves some early morning, late night, weekend, and holiday work on a rota basis. Therefore, weekend and holiday work may be eligible for overtime compensation.
Qualifications you can achieve on an animal technician 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.
Depending on your previous experience and qualifications, you may be able to do an animal technologist advanced apprenticeship.
- Level 3 Animal Technologist – Entry requirements for this level include 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship. This qualification typically takes around 24 months to complete.
On on a animal technician apprenticeship, you’ll learn:
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- the ability to work well with others
- the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
- the ability to use your initiative
- sensitivity and understanding
- thinking and reasoning skills
- excellent verbal communication skills
- administration skills
- to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently.
You can find work in a range of academic and commercial institutions, including:
- pharmaceutical companies
- research institutes and other government or private organisations
- specialist animal breeding laboratories
- teaching hospitals
- veterinary and medical colleges.
Your education as an apprentice animal technician will consist of practical, on-the-job experience and part-time study for IAT certificates.
You can graduate to the more experienced position of animal technologist after completing these and working for a few years. You must complete the IAT Level 3 Laboratory Animal Science and Technology Diploma. The qualification prepares you for the additional duties that come with the position.
If you rise to the post of animal technologist, consider obtaining a licence under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act of 1986. This will allow you to provide treatments to animals, such as injections, and engage in the job’s experimental aspects. You must have the necessary experience and complete a quick training session.
Continuing professional development (CPD) is an important aspect of the job since you must keep up with legislation changes and update your skills and knowledge. The IAT provides CPD via seminars, workshops, and courses.
You must have practical experience before you can advance in your job. So you’ll start with routine tasks like feeding and watering the animals and cleaning their cages.
IAT certificates provide progression opportunities, and you may study part-time while working. You will be qualified to work as a senior technician and undertake animal procedures (with a personal licence). You may also be in charge of training technicians, line management, and ensuring that standards are met.
You might rise to the position of facility manager/specialist, where you would be responsible for running the facility, including ensuring compliance with all regulatory and health and safety laws, as well as budget and staff management. Specialization is also possible in breeding or genetically engineered animals.
If you hold an IAT Membership or Fellowship Diploma and five years of relevant experience, you may join the Register of Animal Technologists (including two years after qualification).
Technicians with professional expertise and suitable experience in animal technology may be nominated as a Named Animal Care and Welfare Officer under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act of 1986. (NACWO).