Do you love animals? Are you the type of person who nursed wounded birds and other animals back to health as a child? Do you seem to collect stray cats from around your neighborhood, then can’t seem to find the heart to take them to the animal shelter?
If so, and animal care job may be in your future. So what do animal care and service workers do, exactly? This is a career field that encompasses several jobs, actually, including animal trainers and animal caretakers.
Generally, animal care jobs involve watering, feeding, grooming, exercising, bathing and exercising animals of all types. Animal care works also closely interact with the animals in their care, playing with them, providing companionship, and helping to rehabilitate them whem they’re sick or injured.
Where are you most likely to find an animal care job? In a variety of places, including pet stores, animal shelters, dog walking, doggie day care, boarding kennels, dog grooming, labs and clinics, stables, zoos, Sea World and aquariums to name just a few. Job titles and pay scales vary widely depending on the work required, your education level, and the area in which you work.
Kennel and doggie day care employees care for dogs and other pets while their owners are out of town, or at work. This type of animal care job entails farily basic tasks like walking the animals, feeding and watering the pets, cleaning out their pens or dog runs, and playing and exercising with the animals.
Animal shelters also employ a variety of animal care workers, as you might expect. Animal caretakers work primarily with dogs and cats, while other animals do make it into the shelters from time to time.
This type of animal care job involves attending to the basic needs of the animals, just as kennel workers do, but shelters also provide medical care and treatment as well. Shelters provide spay and neutering, routine vaccinations, microchip tagging, and other basic medical services. Some animals unfortunately have to be euthanized as well. This is one of the tough aspects of this line of work, and can take a toll on people who can't be somewhat detached and leave their feelings at the office.
Other types of animal care jobs include groomers, petsitters, zookeepers, animal trainers and more.
This type of employment, while appealing to a wide range of animal lovers, can be a challening environment in which to work. Some of the work may be unpleasant, physically or emotionally demanding, and, sometimes, dangerous. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that full-time animal care and service workers experienced a work-related injury and illness rate that was higher than the national average.
Most animal care and service workers have to clean animal cages and lift, hold, or restrain animals, risking exposure to bites or scratches. Their work often involves kneeling, crawling, repeated bending, and, occasionally, lifting heavy supplies such as bales of hay or bags of feed.
These types of animal care jobs can also be tough for animal lovers. Animal care and service workers who witness abused animals or who assist in the euthanizing of unwanted, aged, or hopelessly injured animals may experience emotional stress.
Those working for private humane societies and municipal animal shelters often deal with the public, some of whom might react with hostility to any implication that the owners are neglecting or abusing their pets. These workers must maintain a calm and professional demeanor while they enforce the laws regarding animal care.
Training, other qualifications, and advancement:
* Most animal care and service workers are trained on the job.
* Employers generally prefer to hire people with some experience with animals.
* Some training programs are available for specific types of animal caretakers, such as groomers, but formal training is usually not necessary for entry-level positions.
So how much can you expect to make if you choose a career in this industry?
Well, chances are you’re not going to get rich as an animal care worker. According to recent industry estimates, the average entry level salary for this type of work is around $10 per hour, but this varies according to your location, and level of experience. If you’ve been in the field for awhile, and have a lot of training and experience caring for animals, then you can expect to make $16 per hour or more.
You can visit the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council website to find more information on the animal care industry and how you might find a challenging and rewarding new career working with pets and other animals.
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