Animal Caretakers

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Also known as:
Animal Care Giver, Animal Care Technician, Animal Caregiver, Animal Daycare Provider, Animal Groomer, Animal Shelter Worker, Animal Sitter, Aquarist, Aquarium Tank Attendant, Cat and Dog Bather

ABOUT ANIMAL CARETAKER CAREERS
Video transcript

A love of animals is just the beginning. If you wish to pursue a career as an animal caretaker, you must care enough about creatures to carry you through the difficulties of coping with a wide variety fo chores and needs.

Veterinary assistants in animal hospitals and clinics are trained to prepare the animals for surgery, and to clean them and their cages. You cannot be squeamish about cleaning wounds and incisions or coping with messes.

A job as a laboratory animal caretaker might require you to care for mice, rats, sheep, fish, frogs, or other species being used for tests. You will need to follow precise instructions about feeding, cleaning, and perhaps applying substances to be tested.

At a kennel or stable, animal caretakers provide grooming and companionship, and do a lot of cleaning of the animals' living space and equipment. Caretakers at animal shelters carry the additional burden of putting to death sick or unwanted pets. Zookeepers prepare special foods, clean exhibits, nurture young animals, and often interact with the public. Some zoos may require their animal caretakers to have a college degree in zoology or in some other form of animal science.

Certification and training programs for groomers, shelter workers and laboratory specialists, and veterinary assistants are sometimes available. You might ask someone who already has the kind of job you want how they got started. Often it just takes a high school degree, a love of animals, and an entry-level job where training is provided.

Though animal caretakers are not veterinarians, they often are the first to notice signs of abuse or illness. They are protectors, but also need protection - from bites, scratches, hooves, chemical substances used on the job and the emotional strain of caring for creatures who cannot say "thank you" - at least, not in words.

SNAPSHOT
Feed, water, groom, bathe, exercise, or otherwise provide care to promote and maintain the well-being of pets and other animals that are not raised for consumption, such as dogs, cats, race horses, ornamental fish or birds, zoo animals, and mice. Work in settings such as kennels, animal shelters, zoos, circuses, and aquariums. May keep records of feedings, treatments, and animals received or discharged. May clean, disinfect, and repair cages, pens, or fish tanks.
Leadership
HIGH
Critical decision making
HIGH
Level of responsibilities
LOW
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
LOW
Dealing and handling conflict
LOW
Competition for this position
LOW
Communication with others
HIGH
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
HIGH
Comfort of the work setting
HIGH
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
LOW
Exposure to job hazards
LOW
Physical demands
LOW
Daily tasks

Mix food, liquid formulas, medications, or food supplements according to instructions, prescriptions, and knowledge of animal species.

Advise pet owners on how to care for their pets' health.

Perform animal grooming duties, such as washing, brushing, clipping, and trimming coats, cutting nails, and cleaning ears.

Respond to questions from patrons, and provide information about animals, such as behavior, habitat, breeding habits, or facility activities.

Exercise animals to maintain their physical and mental health.

Provide treatment to sick or injured animals, or contact veterinarians to secure treatment.

Feed and water animals according to schedules and feeding instructions.

Collect and record animal information, such as weight, size, physical condition, treatments received, medications given, and food intake.

Do facility laundry and clean, organize, maintain, and disinfect animal quarters, such as pens and stables, and equipment, such as saddles and bridles.

Examine and observe animals to detect signs of illness, disease, or injury.

MAIN ACTIVITIES
Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Performing General Physical Activities Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling of materials.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Handling and Moving Objects Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
AREAS OF KNOWLEDGE
Customer and Personal Service Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Clerical Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.
English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Education and Training Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Administration and Management Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
Psychology Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
Mathematics Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Public Safety and Security Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
TOP SKILLS
Monitoring Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Coordination Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
Reading Comprehension Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
Judgment and Decision Making Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
Service Orientation Actively looking for ways to help people.
Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Speaking Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.