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Entering a zoological career with no qualifications?

Discussion in 'United Kingdom' started by Georgie, 5 Jun 2017.

  1. Georgie

    Georgie New Member

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    Hi all! I'm in a bit of a rutt at the moment so any help would be appreciated.

    I'm currently studying my degree in zoology (woo!) and enjoying it immensely. My partner on the other hand is stuck in a dead end job he hates. He regularly says to me that he wishes he could work with animals and had followed his dreams as a teenager. He originally wanted to work with elasmobranchs and shark species but didn't get high enough grades to study marine biology.

    He cannot afford to go back to school to do a BTEC in animal care let alone university. Is it possible to get into animal jobs with only volunteering experience alone? He's extremely passionate about animals, especially invertebrates, reptiles and marine animals and works so hard. Whenever we go to zoos, he loves it and asks so many questions to keepers and is always telling me how much he wishes he could do it.
     
  2. Falconhoof

    Falconhoof Well-Known Member

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    I've known keepers who have come from working in animal shelters and rescue centres, and some even from farming backgrounds, so I think the proven experience is as important - possibly more important - than formal qualifications.
     
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  3. Ned

    Ned Well-Known Member

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    Why doesn't he look for a job in an aquatic centre and do an online/ evening class in fish keeping then go from there?
     
  4. Dassie rat

    Dassie rat Well-Known Member

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    I know a few people who have become zoo keepers after being volunteer keepers. If managers know that a volunteer keeper works efficiently, then there is a good chance that that person could get a paid job. I have heard of graduates who consider themselves too 'precious' to do menial work, while a volunteer keeper will probably have a lot of experience doing menial work.
     
  5. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

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    I think the biggest problem is that jobs 'in zoology' are rare.

    If it is not a problem, your friend should make up his mind what 'job with animals' he wants to do. Zookeeper? Marine biologist? Do a research online where and how many positions exist at all (it would be rare to get a work related to sharks in Britain). Then get a personal contact and volunteer on a short term. It is quite possible to be employed by personal contacts and getting knowledge first hand.

    Sorry to spoil others dreams, but a note of caution. Animal related jobs are usually difficult and unsatisfying. Often only a minuscule part of your time is actually interacting with animals. Whoever wants to work with animals should first get a short term experience (say, a 1-3 month volunteering or apprenticeship) before committing much resources, to see the job from inside and be sure he knows what he is asking for.
     
  6. Dassie rat

    Dassie rat Well-Known Member

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    I agree with Jurek7. I have a zoology degree, but I found it difficult to find jobs. One potential employer said he only wanted science or arts graduates. Eventually, I got a job in a hospital, as this was one of the few jobs wanting a zoology graduate. As Jurek7 says, few employers want zoology graduates and, unless a zoology graduate is in the right place at the right time, an animal-related job is likely to be poorly paid and entail a lot of unpaid overtime. Jurek7 is right about trying a short-term experience to see if it is the right job. I know various people who really enjoy working with animals and if this is more important as a career choice, rather than material wealth, I recommend it. As Richard Fortey says in 'Dry Storeroom No. 1', many people are so fond of their research at the Natural History Museum, they return as an unpaid worker after retiring from their paid job.
     
  7. Georgie

    Georgie New Member

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    The title of my degree is technically zoological management and comprises of animal behaviour, role of zoos, welfare and husbandry as well as biology, enrichment and enclosure design and dietary development etc etc. It's become a force of habit to just call it zoology as otherwise I get a million questions from people asking what 'zoological management' means, apologies for the confusion.

    Inverts are definitely his thing. I'm currently a volunteer keeper at two zoos and have made him aware of how little time I really spend with the animals but he isn't phased by it and says he'd find it more rewarding to know he was making a change in terms of conservation breeding. I feel he prefers just keeping fish at home as a hobby.
     
  8. littleRedPanda

    littleRedPanda Well-Known Member

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    Does he have any other skills that are needed around the zoo, maintenance perhaps?
     
  9. Nikola Chavkosk

    Nikola Chavkosk Well-Known Member

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    I think, one working day of a zookeeper, consist mostly of cleaning of the enclosures/equipment, then preparing the food and feeding of the animals, and lastly, a little time spent, interacting with, or observing, the animals, and doing some not-everyday procedures (e.g., assisting a zoo vet in a procedure).
     
  10. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

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    Two jobs which can offer a way to work with wild animals are: veterinarian and fishery expert.

    I have friends who could not become field biologists but made successful career in these jobs. I however have no idea how common or recommendable it is. Other Zoochatters may be more knowledgeable.

    However, both jobs require proper studies- and quite a lot to learn! To be sure that a vet does not kill a beloved family dog or a farm with several 100s cows. On the other hand, most big cities have a market for veterinarians specializing in exotic pets.
     
  11. Max Blundell

    Max Blundell Well-Known Member

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    Hi all, I was wondering how to get into paid zoo employment as I have achieved Animal Management Level 2 and 3 ABC, I have got 3 Years of Animal Husbandry, Behaviour and Welfare and also have 1 Year experience working as a volunteer in 2 separate zoos.
    At the moment I am currently studying Advanced Level 3 Diploma at College.

    I am also volunteering as an Animal Keeper at my second zoo now as I volunteered before last November until May this year, I has hoping to get a job out of it because I loved the zoo and the animals and I even got a Practical Skills Trophy from the college for my outstanding work.
    and also in January, I will start volunteering at my 3rd Zoo.

    Is there anything else I should be doing?

    Many Thanks
     
  12. Water Dragon

    Water Dragon Well-Known Member

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    Zoos generally look for people who have degrees in animal care/science so I would strongly recommend that you get one. Other than that you are on the right path to getting zoo-work. :)
     
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