Career as an Animal Keeper
This is the BETA website of the One Zoo Tree Career Preparation Path (CPP) project, used to gather data and test best practice / layout.
Do you want to work as an Animal Keeper?
Follow the 6 points below and join the Animal Keeper Group where you will learn everything about becoming the best keeper, while chatting with other potential keepers and experts from around the world.
Prepare to be amazed!
1. what is an animal keeper?
Animal Keepers care for animals in zoos, aquariums, and the different parks used for entertainment, education and conservation.
There are hundreds of different kinds of animal keepers, based on the kind of animals they work with, for example groups of animals:
2. what do they do?
Animal Care / Zoo, Aquariums, Museums and Amusement Parks
An Animal Keeper's work focuses on maintaining captive exotic animals for conservation, research, public education and recreation. Animal Keepers are at the forefront in conserving species for the general public.
Where they work:
Animal Keepers mostly work outdoors when interacting with the animals, as well as indoors when preparing food and cleaning enclosures.
Places of Employment -
Animal Keepers work at zoos (private or government), amusement parks, large sanctuaries, game farms, and larger aquariums.
The average salary of Animal Keepers is around US$30,000 per year. Part time workers earn around US$10 to 15 per hour.
Promotion to senior levels are available in all related careers. The levels of each promotion might differ from organization to organization, but generally are the following:
Intern Keeper > Junior Keeper (usually graded in 3 levels 3 to reach Senior) > Senior or Head Keeper > Manager/Director/Curator
More senior animal keepers may also seek employment in more scientific fields (researching on the species they love to work with) after some time and further studies.
The most difficult part of this career is being able to work with stressed animals. Animals can get difficult and temperamental when they sense a new person in their space. Learning to deal with such animals is important to make Animal Keeper your ideal career. You may also be required to work irregular hours including evenings, weekends, and holidays.
Future Growth and Possibilities:
The prospects of future growth in this industry is generally slow, mainly due to the limited number of employing facilities. This is also one of the lowest paid positions for animal care careers in relation to minimum qualifications required to enter.
3. WHICH SKILLS ARE REQUIRED?
The skills required for a career as an animal keeper can be divided into two very important groups. The first is the group containing life skills, which are the core skills that are necessary or desirable for full participation in everyday life. The second group is career skills, or the specific skills required to allow a person to enter and operate effectively within a specific career. Some or maybe even all of the life skills can assist in strengthening the career skills, and they might even be the same for specific careers.
4. WHICH SUBJECTS MUST I HAVE AT SCHOOL?
These subjects are recommended:
These subjects are the ones recognized around the world. The subjects you choose at school are important as they lay the foundation for further studies at college or university. While still at school, it's also important to learn more about the animals you will work with, as well as gain some experience.
5. WHAT WILL I NEED TO STUDY?
There are animal organizations that advertise for Assistant or Junior Animal Keepers where you only need a High School Certificate/Diploma or GCSE equivalent, with some experience in working with animals (mostly wildlife), but the Animal Keeper industry is becoming more competitive. This means that most available positions will have a minimum requirement of a recognized College Diploma, or a Bachelor's Degree (graduate Degree), majoring in zoology or animal science. Degrees focusing on biology, ecology, or conservation science will also help.
Due to the level of competition it is extremely important to prepare for this career, even while still in school. One Zoo Tree has a list of things that will help you to prepare, as well as places where you might gain valuable experience with all kinds of animals. For example, there are thousands of part-time and online short courses that will add to your knowledge and look great on your CV, such as in general animal health and animal First Aid.
A good knowledge of computers is necessary, as many of the zoos make use of special software (such as the ARK7 software) to help them keep record of for example special reports on injuries and breeding behaviour.
Degree in Animal Management, biology, animal science, zoology, behavioral sciences, or other related fields. If there is a specific species you want to work with, then it is also best to focus your studies on it.
The duration of most College Diplomas are between 2 and 3 years, and Bachelor's Degrees are between 3 and 4 years full time. The duration of short courses differ, but can range from a few days to a few months.
Possible Career Preparation Paths:
If this is your dream career that you want to pursue, then it's important to plan the way forward.
Why is planning important?
To ensure that you understand the requirements for your career, and that you are always prepared for the next step on the road towards your dream. A Preparation Path is like your road map to where you want to be.
Possible Combined Career Paths:
It is possible to sometimes combine two or more related careers. This normally happens when you study and practice a specific main career, but the knowledge and experience gained also help you to have a paying hobby or secondary income career.
Stepping Stone Career:
Animal Keeper can also be used as a stepping stone career. A stepping stone career is one which is used to help you get to another career, normally because the other career is too difficult to reach immediately (high fees etc). You can begin as an intern animal keeper after basic short courses and expert guidance (maybe working under a mentor at a zoo, aquarium or park). The money made can then be used to pay for studies towards a promotion or another career, and the experience helps in gaining knowledge. One paying to help get to the other.
Some of the possible paths, starting with intern animal keeper:
6. WANT TO LEARN MORE?
ANIMAL KEEPER AMBASSADOR
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LEARN ABOUT THE CAREER AMBASSADOR AND GROUP EDUCATORS
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