Best course for a career in the Animal Industry?

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lonedad | 20:16 Sat 21st Aug 2010 | Jobs & Education
6 Answers
Im 33 and a lone parent. Ive taken a couple of years out to raise my daughter and have recently tried looking for work with no success. Ive been looking at courses and would love to enter the animal industry. My biggest dream would be to work at a zoo or nature centre but I am open to working at a Dogs Home etc.
The biggest problem I have is that the only course available at a college is 30 odd miles away from me. I have been accepted but Im doubting how long I can do it for because of the time it will take me to travel to and from college. Theres also my child to think of who will be stuck in nursery for 11 hours a day. The course is a 2 year course in Animal Management Level 3 National Certificate. Ive searched the internet and Ive found a course with Oxford College which is a Level 3 Diploma in Zoology. This will be a distance learning course which would mean I can do it at home. I have a friend who is doing this course and he is getting through this ok.
On top of this, I am volunteering at my local nature centre and am enjoying it.
So, which course would be better for my career development? I understand that experience is essential so I will stick with the nature centre for however long they want me there. I am also looking to find a placement in another part of the animal sector such as the local dogs home.


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I'm not sure whether this link will help or not, but it's worth a try, so here goes.

The DirectGov Careers Advice website lists different type of work with animals. Clicking on each link will show you the type of qualifications you'll need, so that you might then be better placed to understand which course would be most appropriate:

I have no experience in the Animal field but my job involves commissioning training for other topics, and to be honest these days taught courses and on-line courses carry equal weight in the areas I look at - you have still gained the academic credits so are proving you have the underpinning knowledge, whichever way you do it. You have to be realistic about your abilities to travel for the course, and if it provied a real problem and you had to drop out of the taught course, that would be so much time wasted for you in your future career. You are doing the right thing in getting experience, volunteering, and placements. However, from your point of view, may I suggest that you need to check what work you plan to do, and whether the Zoology qualification is as relevant as the Animal Management one for the kind of work you might be looking for - you need to be sure that you are on the right pathway and not going off at a tangent because the other course is more convenient. You could ask at your vets - perhaps a veterinary nurse course would be an option, or something similar? I do wish you good luck - keep us informed!
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Hey thanks both for your time.

Buenchico: Ill check that out. Im sure it will say that I dont need zoology to work in a zoo or a nature centre (which is common advice) but the manager at the nature centre im volunteering at wants zoology. I might give him a call when im back from my holidays and see if he can give me some further advice.

Boxtops: I really would like to work in some kind of animal park, such as a zoo, safari park, nature centre or sanctuary. Im realistic though and understand that there are few jobs in that and it may lead me to relocating. So Im keeping my options open and Im looking at other parts of the industry such as vets, kennels, catteries etc. I do know that zoology really wouldnt fall into those catergories. I am ina catch 22 situation. The places I really want to work in require zoology but the places I may need to fall back on if I cant find work would need animal management or even animal care qualifications.
From what Ive read about Zoology, it basically revolves around the study of exotic animals you would find in a zoo whereas Animal Management revolves around domestic and exotic. The problem being, I havent spoken to anyone who hires and fires at a zoo that takes people on with an Animal Management qualification.
The travel thing has been worrying me lately. It could be a massive struggle, especially considering i use public transport. The winter months could be really difficult. Plus I feel guilty dropping my daughter off there just before 8am and collecting her at 6pm. It is only 3 days a week but its still alot.
Given what boxtops has said, I can't help wondering whether the Zoology would be the better option. You seem to be getting the animal management experience via your volunteering and the other placements you're seeking, and the zoology would offer some of the theory to back it up. It would also give you a springboard to take it to university level if you felt that way inclined.
Lonedad, I think you are viewing this very sensibly. I use public transport for work and whereas long journeys once or twice are fine, I would find every day wearing.

Could I suggest that you might ring up the HR department at your local (or nearest) zoo or animal park and find out what sort of qualifications they'd be looking for in people they might take on? Also, have you considered whether any of your local colleges might be offering Apprenticeships in Animal Care (have a look at this link http://www.apprentice...Care/Animal-Care.aspx - the Apprentichips schemes run alongside employers and you gain a qualification (albeit a starter) and get paid something like £95 a week during your studies. You have a placement in the workplace of the employer offering this. Definitely worth a look IMHO if you can find something a bit more local to you? - good luck!
I haven`t looked at the links that other people have posted, but have you thought of becomming an RSPCA Officer?

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