Working with animals can be a very rewarding career, and there are many different types of employment in this area. However, competition for places is fierce, and it is important to consider a number of facts before pursuing a career with animals.
Because there are such a wide variety of animal-related jobs available, it is a good idea first of all to decide which type of work is most suited to you and what areas you are most interested in.
What species of animals are you particularly interested in? Do you wish to work hands-on with animals, study them, or teach people about them? Or are you more interested in conservation issues, i.e. conserving species of animals and plants and their environments?
Working directly with animals is often very routine work and can be physically demanding, often hands-on, dirty and smelly, yet very rewarding. Animals do not have a 9 am till 5 pm day! This type of work is most likely to involve working weekends and bank holidays.
It is also important when working with animals that you have good communication and customer care skills. This type of work often involves a great deal of interaction with the public, owners, visitors or other professionals.
As with most jobs, the greater the experience and qualifications you have, the greater the opportunities available to you. You will stand a much better chance of succeeding in pursuing a career with animals if you have had some practical experience with animals and have attained some relevant qualifications.
If you would like to read more about careers in zoos, visit the Jobs & Careers page of the British & Irish Association of Zoos & Aquariums (BIAZA).
To work with animals at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo you must be over-18.
Edinburgh Zoo has a policy of not accepting personal work experience requests. We tend to only give long-term placements to students studying an animal-related qualification at a university of which we are affiliated with.
If you are interested in volunteering with RZSS please visit our volunteering page. Please note however, that volunteers do not work directly with animals.