Animal care worker

kennel worker cattery worker animal boarding assistant animal care assistant animal welfare assistant animal care auxiliary
Animals, land and environment

Career outlook for animal care worker

UK Salary Ranges





Currently employed in Scotland


Salary information is provided by the "National Careers Service". "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would look after animals living in kennels, catteries or rescue centres and keep them healthy and happy.

You could care for dogs and cats, or other animals such as rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs. You might care for donkeys, horses or even parrots.

You would:

  • Prepare food and feed the animals
  • Keep animals clean and groom them
  • Exercise dogs in a yard or take them for walks
  • Clean out kennels, pens and cages, and change bedding
  • Look after animals who become ill or distressed
  • Answer queries from colleagues and visitors
  • Maintain the animal enclosures

If you work in an animal sanctuary or rescue centre some animals may be injured or distressed when they arrive so you'd have to try to keep them calm. You'd need to be gentle and confident when you handle them during their treatment.

In some jobs you might also keep records, take bookings and advise owners on how to look after their animals.

You could also get a job as:

  • An animal welfare assistant at an animal adoption or re-homing centre
  • An animal collection officer for the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA)
  • An animal care auxiliary at an animal hospital

You might specialise in animal massage or hydrotherapy, working with animals recovering from injury or undergoing treatment for mobility problems.

Working conditions


As animals must be looked after seven days a week, you may work shifts. This could often include starting early, and some evenings and weekends.


Working with animals can involve hard physical work, and you could spend time working outdoors in all weathers.

UK employment status





Self employed


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  • Attention to detail
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  • Social conscience
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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.


You will not always need formal qualifications for animal care jobs, although some employers may ask for qualifications may ask for qualifications at SCQF Level 4/5.

To enter an animal care National Certificate or National Qualification course usually requires at least three National 4s (including Maths and English) plus a science at National 5 (biology most useful).

To enter a Higher National Certificate (SCQF Level 7) or Higher National Diploma (SCQF Level 8) requires two Highers or a relevant NC/NQ. 

Useful subjects

  • English 
  • Maths
  • Science subjects

You will also need

Practical experience is essential when applying to this role.This might be gained through work, volunteering or an animal care course that includes a work placement. 



Helpful to have

Work-based qualifications such as a Scottish Vocational Qualification in Animal Care (SVQ Level 2/3) or be willing to work towards this once in a job.

Experience of dealing with animals.