Do you love animals? Do you wish you could make their lives better? Whether it’s caring for lost and abandoned animals or educating others how to be kinder to our feathered, furred, or woolly non-human friends, there are plenty of pathways to a career in animal welfare and protection.
Here are a few of the animal rights roles you might see on EthicalJobs.com.au, and some tips for how to land them.
1. Animal Rescuer/Sanctuary Hand
There are many sanctuaries around Australia doing important work for animals in need, including Edgar’s Mission, Lost Dog’s Home, and the RSPCA, and they often need people to provide hands-on care and support to rehabilitate the many animals who wind up in their care.
You could be in charge of daily feeding schedules, maintenance and cleaning, monitoring the health and wellbeing of animals, or even conducting site inspections.
These roles are not for the faint hearted: animal rescuers sometime witness some pretty distressing situations. But it’s essential work and no doubt rewarding and heart-warming when you’re able to provide a better life for some of the most abused and defenceless creatures.
How to get there
An understanding of what farmed, wild, or domesticated animals need for pasture, shelter/shade and feed is a must for these roles. If you don’t have experience working on a farm, volunteering at a sanctuary will help you get it. Reach out to a sanctuary near you to find out what sort of volunteering opportunities they have available.
Apart from some experience, formal qualifications are not usually required. However, soft skills like problem solving and teamwork will be highly valued. Depending on the role there may be other responsibilities, such as maintenance of buildings or machinery, which require particular skills and experience.
Like almost all not-for-profit organisations, animal rights organisations often operate on shoestring budgets so they are often in need of fundraisers.
Fundraising is an incredibly diverse profession, and can involve anything from planning and organising events, to digital marketing, managing donor relationships, attracting grants and sponsorship, creating and selling merchandise, or even promotion through the media.
While you might not be working directly with the cute and cuddly animals, fundraisers get their thrills from seeing the direct impact of every dollar they help to raise.
How to get there
We’ve written before about how fundraising is an (almost) guaranteed way to break into the not-for-profit sector because every not-for-profit organisation needs good fundraisers.
Volunteering is one of the best ways to break into a fundraising career in the NFP sector. Getting involved in a fundraising campaign or event for your favourite animal rights organisation can build your confidence and fundraising abilities and to build connections and skills that you can draw from in any fundraising role.
3. Wildlife Ecologist
Wildlife Ecologists are responsible for conservation of threatened or endangered species and spend their time surveying, researching and monitoring wildlife and the ecosystems within which they live.
They work to save the populations of some of our most treasured animals. For example, the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program is a response to the Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) on the Tasmanian devil, which threatens the ongoing survival of the species.
Ecologists also deal with the conservation of marine life, tackling threats to our ocean life like plastic pollution, climate change and overfishing.
As a Wildlife Ecologist, you’ll work closely with the scientific community, governments and funding bodies, so you’ll also need to be able to coherently communicate your findings, and provide advice.
How to get there
To work as a wildlife ecologist you’ll need to spend a number of years at university. You’ll need at least a bachelors degree in conservation biology or ecology – though many roles will require a masters degree or PhD too – and some really good research skills.
4. Community Liaison Officer/Educator
Education plays a key role preventing cruelty to animals.
Educators work to develop and implement programs to improve animal welfare practices and help reduce animal cruelty and neglect in the community. This involves engaging with community members and other key stakeholders like local governments, schools and businesses.
Educators may facilitate programs that include teaching people how to be responsible pet owners or training courses for those looking to work with animals.
How to get there
Your passion for animal welfare will be essential for any education role in animal welfare. And while an actual education or community development qualification could be highly regarded, a more basic certificate in training and assessment may be enough to equip you to effectively deliver education programs.
Alternatively, a qualification may not be required if you have equivalent experience with doing education or community development as part of a previous job.
You’ll also need a working with children check if the programs are designed for children and schools.
5. Operations/Finance Officer
The quiet heroes. These are the team members that keep the day-to-day operations ticking over so that animal welfare and protection organisations can continue to exist and improve the lives of animals.
There are various operational-type roles that are important for almost every animal welfare organisation – administrators, finance officers, office managers, human resources managers, communications officers – to name just a few.
These roles usually require very organised people who can multitask and have multiple skills.
How to get there
Since these operations roles are quite varied, there are many possible pathways to get one of these jobs in an animal welfare organisation. It might mean a certificate IV or graduate certificate in finance, or similar HR qualifications. You might be lucky enough to find an entry-level role but, more commonly, you’ll need to get some experience up your sleeve before you land a paid role like this with an animal rights organisation.
These roles tend to come up only occasionally and can be very popular, so again: looking for volunteering opportunities with your favourite animal rights organisation will help you get your foot in the door for when paid opportunities come along.
Jobs in animal welfare organisations can be competitive because lots of people would love to work in one of them, so if you want a job in animal welfare or protection, don’t forget that you’ll also need to write an impressive cover letter that shows your true enthusiasm for the role and organisation.
Photo by Artem Beliaikin.