School is Easy aim to help children achieve their aspirations in education, but where does this lead? In this series of blog posts, we are looking into popular job roles and how your child can get there. This blog post looks into the zoo keeping profession.
Zookeepers are mainly concerned with the welfare of animals kept in zoos, wildlife parks and aquariums.
Typical hours and salary: UK
You'll need to be prepared to work year-round, and over weekends. Animals require care and attention every day, including Christmas!
You're likely to need to be flexible about your days off, particularly if animals are unwell or
births are expected.
The average salary for a zoo keeper is between £12,000 and £14,000. This will then progress up to £20,000 for an experienced keeper. Head keepers can earn around £25,000.
How to become a zoo keeper: UK
Passing your GCSEs with a minimum of a C is a good start, then look at doing biology plus two other subjects at A-level, entry requirements range from CCD to AAB, universities most commonly asking for BBB.
Once you have your A-levels, you can go on to study either zoology, animal welfare or animal science. Make sure you check how many practical elements are in the course, many employers favour experience when applying to be a zoo-keeper. It is a highly competitive position as there are many unpaid, volunteer roles and people who have a lot of experience.
Don’t let this put you off though, you can take up volunteer roles in your local area whilst you study, which will make you appear more favourable to employers when you are looking for the full time role.
Being a zoo keeper requires you to have several different skills. One of which is confidence working with animals, in particular, large animals. A dog is very different to an elephant! As well as developing a connection with animals, you need to be able to speak with and connect with visitors. People skills are very important in this job as you might take part in talks at the zoo and come across many questions about the animals in your care.
Two other main skills you may need include having a full drivers licence and good general fitness. Having a driving licence might be required in the bigger parks as you may drive around the safari park or between enclosures. General fitness is important too as you will be on your feet for most of the day and working in all weather conditions.
Day to day responsibilities:
A zookeeper's job is to mainly feed the animals in their care and to maintain and clean their living area. However, it will also include:
- Diet preparation
- Behavioural observation
- Record keeping
- Providing environmental enrichment
- Speak to the zoo visitors by talking about experiences with the animal
- Answering any questions visitors may have
With time and experience many zookeepers can take care of more animals or even whole sections. This entirely depends on the size of the zoo and the type of zoo it is.
As you gather more experience, you may want to look at opportunities at other zoos and essentially zig-zag your way up to head keeper.