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Animal attendants and trainers

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Summary of occupation

Animal attendants ensure that animals in their care are well looked after. This can include grooming, exercising, treating minor injuries, watching for any negative changes in animal behaviour, cleaning waste and providing food and water. They care for all kinds of animals -  injured native animals in nature reserves, abandoned pets in shelters, fish at aquariums, even exotic animals at the State's many wildlife parks and main zoo. They may also undertake administrative tasks, such as maintaining animal records or working at the reception area of a pet shelter.

ANZSCO description: This occupation group covers Animal Attendants and Trainers not elsewhere classified.
Alternative names:
Specialisations: Animal Trainer, Crutching Contractor, Kennel Hand, Muleser, Pet Groomer, Pet Shop Attendant, Zookeeper
Job prospects: Average
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

An animal attendant needs:

  • to have a love of animals
  • a patient and sympathetic nature towards animals
  • to ideally be free from pet and dust allergies
  • a good eye-for-detail when grooming or identifying minor injuries or changes in animal behaviour
  • to enjoy practical and manual work
  • to be a good team player and have good people skills
  • the ability to follow instructions
  • a good level of physical fitness.
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Working conditions

Animal attendants work in a variety of different workplaces such as veterinary clinics, pet shops, zoos, stables, animal shelters, wildlife parks and reserves, and research facilities. They may work indoors or outdoors, in all weather conditions. Most animal attendants work in environments that can be dirty and smelly, and must be prepared to spend a great deal of time cleaning and disinfecting animal enclosures and pens. They may be required to work on weekends, public holidays and in the evening. In most workplaces, there is a great deal of contact with the public.

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Salary details

On average, animal attendants and trainers can expect to earn between $657 and $799 per week ($34 159 and $41 599 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As an animal attendant or trainer develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.

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Tools and technologies

Animal attendants often have to use sprays, disinfectants, brooms, mops and shovels for cleaning indoor and outdoor animal enclosures. They may also use animal leads, harnesses and toys, as well as containers, bowls, bottles and cups for serving food and water. If dealing with harsh disinfectants or potentially dangerous animals, they need to wear safety clothing, closed-in shoes and gloves. Most animal attendants are also required to wear a uniform.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

You can work as an animal attendant or trainer without any formal qualifications and get training on the job. However, entry into this occupation may be improved by obtaining a qualification in animal studies, companion animal services or a related area.

The Certificate II in Animal Studies, Certificate II in Equine Studies, and the Certificate III and IV in Companion Animal Services are offered at TAFE Colleges and other registered training organisations throughout Western Australia.

You can also complete a traineeship in one of the following areas: animal attendant (vet clinic), animal shelter attendant, aquarium assistant, cattery attendant, dog minder (day care), trainee keeper (wildlife park/sanctuary), companion animal trainer/behaviourist or pet minder/exerciser operator. These traineeships take 12 to 24 months to complete.

The animal attendant (vet clinic) and animal shelter attendant traineeships are available as school-based traineeships.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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