How to become a animal handler

Are you passionate about wildlife and animals? Do you enjoy taking care of their physical and emotional needs? Do you have a secret menagerie of animals at home? If so, then why not consider becoming an animal handler? Animal handlers are also known as animal technicians. You work is largely practical, which means you spend time giving food and water and getting mucky cleaning out enclosures. In addition, you may help with medical tasks supporting other animal professionals in their work. Furthermore, animal handlers work on the ground. Focusing their efforts towards taking care of the animals under their care. You may play a part in reintroduction programs, work in zoos, or even at pharmaceutical companies. The role is a rewarding one and is a good starting point for anyone wanting to further their career at a later date.

There is nothing you love more than working directly with animals. Whether bringing them their next meal or helping the vet take samples for medical tests. You don’t mind getting messy, and you enjoy physical work. If this sounds like you then why not take the next step towards becoming an animal handler? Keep reading to discover pathways and your prospects in this rewarding career opportunity.

Step one: Choose a course

To find work as an animal trainer you will need to complete relevant training or complete relevant qualifications. Many employers will require specific qualifications. This means, it is worthwhile doing some research, and seeing which qualifications employers favour.

Step two: Apply for industry accreditation

Once you have finished your training you will need to apply for industry accreditation before looking for work. The requirements can vary from state to state. Check what you will need to do with your local authority before starting your course. Then, when the time comes you know you have prepared and done everything they need you to. You can find more about getting accreditation using the resources section below.

Step three: Look for your first job

Once you have finished your training you will need to apply for industry accreditation before looking for work. The requirements can vary from state to state. Check what you will need to do with your local authority before starting your course. Then, when the time comes you know you have prepared and done everything they need you to. You can find more about getting accreditation using the resources section below.

Step four: Consider a specialisation

Working as a animal handler, will give you a set of skills which can easily transfer to a wide range of different opportunities. Here are three specialisations for you to consider.

Dog Trainer

In this specialisation, you work with dogs training them in various capacities. For example, you may be training police dogs, assistance dogs or even just peoples pets who are behaving badly. You should love dogs and enjoy training them which can involve a lot of repetitive tasks.

Pet Groomer

Pet groomers are the hairdressers of the pet world. You work with animals on a daily basis, giving them a bath, cutting their hair and nails, so they look and feel their best. Your clients will definitely have permission to sleep on the bed. As well as grooming you check for health problems like fleas, ticks, ear mites.

Veterinary Nurse

In this specialisation, you work on the front lines of animal care. You help the vet to treat sick or injured animals. Usually, treating pets, zoo, and farm animals. Some of your duties are administering medication under supervision, taking samples, sending for testing, and keeping all the equipment clean and sterile.

What do Animal Technicians Do?

An animal handler focuses on meeting the practical needs and emotional needs of the animals in their care. This means you spend a lot of time on practical tasks such as giving food, water, cleaning enclosures, and making sure exercise needs are met. You could work in a zoo, on a game reserve, with the police, and even on film sets. If you work in a zoo you might only work with one kind of species or group of animals, but in other contexts, you may work with a wider range of species. As well as taking care of their basic needs you may take part in breeding programs or programs aiming to reintroduce animals to the wild.

Tasks

  • Feeding and grooming the animals daily
  • Carrying out basic checks and medical procedures
  • Maintaining hygiene in the animal enclosures
  • Assisting with programs to return animals to the wild
  • Observing animal reactions to tests

Skills for Success

Firstly, you must have a deep sincere love for animals. Besides, in your work as an animal handler, you need to enjoy physical labour. Many of the tasks required of you are demanding and messy. In addition, you may need to handle sick animals or animals in distress. You should feel confident around animals of all shapes and sizes. Importantly, you should not have any allergies to animals. You will need to have tertiary qualifications, as specified by your employer. Lastly, you need to have patience, compassion and a desire to work in a team for the well-being of the animals you work with.

Skills and attributes

  • An affinity with animals
  • Confident around animals
  • Willing to carry out messy tiring tasks
  • A team player
  • Excellent physical fitness

What do animal handlers earn in Australia?

In Australia, animal handlers earn a median wage of $44,400 per year. This varies according to a number of factors and is intended as a reference only, from Payscale 05/’18.

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