An animal caretaker gives food, water and overall care to various animals in different kinds of settings. You could find yourself working in pet shops, animal shelters, veterinary hospitals, kennels, stables and even in the homes of clients.
Although the specific responsibilities of animal caretakers depend on the kind of animals you take care of and the place where you work, you do have basic responsibilities. For starters, you see to it that the animals are fed and watered. You also wash their feeders and clean their beddings. You may also groom and give the animals a bath if you have received the proper training to do so. You may also give the dogs, cats, horses or other animals the exercise they need to stay healthy.
In addition to giving animals the basic care they need, animal caretakers also nurture those under their care. Nurturing encompasses a wide range of actions—from talking with the animals to get them to follow your commands to hugging them when they feel scared to watching out for signs of sickness and disease. If the latter happens, it is your responsibility to bring them to the veterinarian to be given the proper care and medication. If you are authorized to do so, then you may also train the animals.
This profession requires a genuine love for animals and their welfare. If you truly care for animals and their welfare, then this career is definitely for you. You should also be patient since caring for sick or wounded animals is not going to be easy. This career is also for those who are physically fit because this will require carrying large animals and restraining them.
One reason to become an animal caretaker is that it allows you to do the thing you love each day you go to work. Not many people find fulfillment in caring for animals but for those who have a special spot for them in their hearts, this is a very satisfying profession. Although the pay is not high, it does afford the opportunity to earn a living wage without having to invest a lot of time in school. The profession also has excellent employment opportunities in the next few years.
Animal Caretaker Work Environment
Animal caretakers work in many different settings. They are employed by zoos, animal shelters, pet shops, kennels, animal hospitals and private clients. In work settings like zoos, kennels and animal shelters that provide care 24 hours a day, animal caretakers may be required to work during night shifts, weekends and holidays. Some of the hazards of the job include getting bitten and kicked by animals that are in pain. Animal caretakers who are working in rescue shelters may also find the job emotionally draining since they get to witness the condition of dogs, cats and other animals that have been abused.
Animal Caretaker Salary
The Occupational Employment and Wages report of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the mean annual wage of nonfarm animal caretakers is $19,910. The lower 10 percent earned $16,580 while the highest earned $32,660.
Animal Caretaker Career Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a very good career outlook for nonfarm animal caretakers. In the period covering 2012 to 2022, the employment rate for this occupation is set to grow 15 percent, a rate that is much faster than the national average. From the 190,600 caretakers employed in 2012, the number is expected to grow to 219,800 in 2022.
Animal Caretaker Degree
Many animal caretakers hold a high school diploma or its equivalent although strictly speaking, there are no formal educational requirements to enter this profession. Many of them learn the skills on the job. However, those who want to learn how to groom pets can get training from any of the state-licensed grooming schools. Caretakers who wish to work in zoos may be required to have a bachelor’s degree in animal science or similar fields.