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Animal care

Animal behaviour is now a rapidly growing field with the emergence of a new generation of animal behaviourists to look at why animals behave the way they do. Working with animals can be a very rewarding career and there are many different kinds of employment available. It can involve shift work and caring for animals over bank holidays and weekends. Competition for places can be high and people often undertake voluntary work to gain relevant experience.

Indirect roles in organisations with an animal care focus may also be available in fundraising, marketing, promotional / public education work, finance, administration and HR for example, which could act as a useful entry point for more specialised roles. Self-employment could also be an option and is common for animal behaviourists.  

Career Zone Employability Schemes

These employability schemes can help increase your work experience and networks in this area.

  • Career Zone Internship schemes: Internships can be extremelyuseful, so try to get relevant vacation work or placements.  
  • Ask an Alum: A fuss-free way to connect with University of Exeter alumni to ask careers questions.  
  • Career Mentor Scheme: A popular employability scheme which matches a student or graduate with an experienced professional, for sector insight and one-to-one careers advice and guidance, over a 6-month period. 
  • Professional Pathways - a suite of sectorspecific training courses and paid week-long internships that take place in June.

Information Resources

The following websites and resources provide you with more detailed information to help you on your way to a career working with animals (please bear in mind that this list is by no means exhaustive).  Also, do make use of any existing contacts you may have in the sector for work shadowing or work experience. CharityChoice and Volunteering England are great for sourcing some of the many animal charities who may be able to offer work experience.


Policy and Civil Service

  • Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs
  • Police Dog Training - Find the website of your nearest police force on this site and search for the Dog Training Unit or Dog Training School. The majority of police forces throughout the country have their own dog training schools. If you want to become a Dog Handler you need to join the police force and opt for this speciality later in your career.
  • UK Border Force - Has a network of specialist officers called Customs Wildlife & Endangered Species Officers. They also have specialist Customs CITES team based at Heathrow Airport which is believed to be the only one in Europe. They use the latest technology and information to help them identify accurately the animals and plants they are dealing with. Customs and Excise also use detector dogs (Border Protection function).


Animal Pharmaceutical Companies





Some roles in animal care may require further training and so postgraduate study may be required. Below are some links to further sources of information to help you search for further study opportunities.

You can use the following links to search for courses:

In Career Zone you will also find hard copies of other postgraduate resources including The Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding, Prospects Postgraduate Funding Guide, and Prospects Postgraduate Directory.