A career as an animal caretaker allows animal lovers to be constantly surrounded by animals. As a caretaker, you will perform tasks including feeding, cleaning cages and habitats and providing basic medical care to ensure that the animals' needs are met. Whether you love large animals or prefer small dogs and cats, caretakers are needed at kennels, stables and zoos throughout the country.
The duties of animal caretakers vary depending on where they work and the type of animals they care for. Some common tasks include providing daily food and water, cleaning cages, stalls and habitats, and monitoring the animals physical condition, heath, diet and exercise. In some cases, caretakers also provide basic first aid, grooming and exercise.
If you want to work as a caretaker for small, domestic animals, you might be employed at animal shelters, kennels and pet stores. Horse caretakers may work for rescue organizations, racetracks, veterinary clinics and private stables. Caretakers for other types of animals are also employed at zoos, aquariums, wildlife rescues, ranches and farms. As an animal caretaker, you may also set up your own business as a pet sitter, dog walker, groomer, or animal trainer.
In most cases, animal caretakers receive on-the-job training rather than formal education. Caretakers working at zoos may need to obtain a bachelor's degree. Some caretakers may pursue additional education and certification to improve chances for advancement. For example, Pet Sitters International offers a certification for pet sitters and many animal caretakers choose to receive animal first aid training to better assist in emergencies.
Animal caretakers often work long hours that may include weekends, nights and holidays. Animals need to be fed every day, and some animals need around-the-clock care, especially if they are ill or injured. In addition, animal caretakers may be expected to work outside at farms and ranches. They may exercise animals and they may have to lift heavy feed bags or bales of hay.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage for animal caretakers was $19,550 as of 2010. In addition, opportunities for animal caretakers are expected to grow by 23 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the 14 percent average expected for all occupations.
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