Animal Attendant

Note: Completion of a TAFE SA course does not guarantee an employment outcome. Formal requirements other than educational qualifications (eg licensing, professional registration), may apply to some occupations.

Job Prospects Openings 5 years to November 2019: 5,001 to 10,000
Salary Range Median weekly earnings: $921 to $1050 to Source: Australian Government Department of Employment 2015
Brief Whether its organising feeding schedules, treating minor injuries or attending to daily exercise routines, animal attendants ensure that animals in zoos, pet stores and shelters are well looked after. There are about 1,100 animal attendants and trainers working in South Australia. More than half of those employed are female and largely work part-time. Animal attendants are mostly employed in the Personal and other services industry.

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TAFE SA courses that may be relevant for: Animal Attendant

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While many survive in the wild, animals that are kept in various sorts of enclosures, rely on animal attendants to feed, water and care for them. You may be surprised to learn that animal attendants are employed by a wide range of organisations, including veterinary clinics, catteries, kennels, horse stables, zoos and animal shelters. While their tasks will vary from establishment to establishment, there are lots of similarities in their work. Many people might think that a love of animals is reason enough to be an animal attendant, but industry sources suggest that there's so much to do that you don't get much time to play.

OutdoorPractical and Manual

Education Requirements

Of those currently employed in this occupation there are 7% of animal attendants who have Advanced Diplomas or Diplomas, 17% have either a Certificate III or Certificate IV, 6% have Certificate I or Certificate II. While 57% have no post school qualifications, it is recommended that further study be undertaken to remain competitive in the industry.

TAFE SA offers a number of courses that may assist you in finding employment in this industry, including Certificate II in Animal Studies; Certificate III & IV in Companion Animal Services and Animal Technology; Certificate III and IV in Captive Animals and Certificate II in Racing (Stablehand).

Still unsure? Then try a short course also offered through TAFE SA such as So You Want to Work with Animals, Basic Care of Pocket Pets, Basic First Aid for Pets or Wildlife Rescue. Check the website for the full list of short courses.

Career Path

Job turnover is average, training numbers are high and it is a small occupational area so there is likely to be competition for vacancies. Veterinary services are starting to offer boarding kennel facilities so the demand for attendants in this area will also rise. There are no specific educational requirements to become an animal attendant and training is usually provided on the job. However, an increasing number of employers of animal attendants are seeing the benefits of employing trained animal attendants according to a TAFE SA spokeswoman.

Animal attendants may pursue private business opportunities such as:

Dog Clipper/Groomer - washes, dries, brushes and combs dogs, and clips their fur and nails. They may work with pure-bred dogs, preparing them for dog shows;

Kennel/Cattery Owner – receives and looks after dogs and cats from their owners, exercises, feeds, grooms and handles them for short or long term arrangements;

Pet Shop Owner - selling pet food and accessories as well as animals to customers.

Nature of the Job

Animal attendants don’t just play with fluffy puppies. They have serious responsibilities and may perform the following tasks: prepare food (including special diets), transport it to feeding areas, and deliver food and water to animals, clean and prepare comfortable sleeping quarters for animals, clear away animal waste, clean, disinfect and look after animal enclosures and cages, and check locks, bathe and groom animals, and treat them with insecticide to control insect pests, treat minor injuries and report serious health problems to veterinarians, transfer animals between enclosures. They may also be involved in the rescue of injured and neglected animals as well as assist with humane killing of animals and handling of animals that have died.

Typical Physical Working Environment

Animal attendants feed, water and care for animals. They also monitor the health of animals in their care. They need to enjoy practical and manual activities. Since they handle animals of different sizes, they also need to be physically fit as some form of lifting may be undertaken. Animal attendants must also be observant and methodical. It is essential that they have confidence and patience in handling animals. They must also be free from allergies aggravated by animal hair, fur, feathers and dust. Working conditions vary depending on place of work. Some attendants have to work on weekends and public holidays. Many work outdoors. Considerable contact with the public is involved when accepting donations and lost and unwanted animals and when selling animals. Overall, they need to show an interest in animals and their welfare.

Typical Occupational Example

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) maintains a shelter for surrendered and abandoned animals, as well as short stay accommodation for pets whose owners are away. 'I really wanted to look after abandoned animals and in this organisation you're caring for a large number of animals who've also been mistreated,' says Jo an RSPCA animal attendant. At the RSPCA, horse stables and at kennels, an important job for attendants is to make sure that animals get their daily exercise.

An interesting part of the job for animal attendants employed at the Adelaide Zoo is to assist with animal research projects. They also handle the on the spot queries about the animals from visitors and they maintain the exhibits and animal records. Like their colleagues employed at the RSPCA, Monarto Zoological Park and Cleland Wildlife Park, animal attendants at the Zoo also care for injured and neglected animals. You'll need to be interested in animals and their well-being and look forward to being around them all day if you're going to become an animal attendant. You'll also be more comfortable if you're allergy free!

We sometimes treat sick or injured animals. Maybe an animal has a minor cut or ear infection. "Obviously in serious cases we recommend the owner see the vet, says Belinda. Fleas and worms are a big nuisance to dogs, cats, puppies and kittens because they're unable to do much about them. So its an animal attendant to the rescue with preventative treatments such as flea powder, shampoo or tablets. Whether its to create a well groomed look for animals awaiting sale in a pet store, or to keep zoo animals that spend their time outdoors, reasonably clean, attendants bathe, groom or wash down animals. In pet stores, kennels or dog parlours, animals might also have their fur and nails clipped.

For further information, contact:

Adelaide Zoological Gardens
Phone: (08) 8267 3255

Pet Industry Association
Phone: (02) 9659 5811

Further Information

For further information about all TAFE SA Courses, phone 1800 882 661 or enquire online