Animal health and welfare
Animal health and welfare is concerned with understanding and safeguarding the health needs of animals, promoting and enforcing their protection, as well as the prevention of diseases that can be carried by animals.
Animal health and welfare comes under the umbrella of animal science which is the study of the biology of animals that are under the control or care of humans.
Where might I work?
Employers within this area include the animal feed industry, food manufacturing companies, research laboratories, zoos and conservations, agribusiness companies, universities, government departments and local authorities.
There are many national and international animal charities who operate within animal health and welfare. Most charities operate for animal welfare but there is also an increasing number of charities providing animal assisted therapy and specialist support. Charity Choice have produced a comprehensive directory with links to the UK’s leading animal charities.
Graduates working in charities go into a variety of different functions including animal behaviour, care and welfare, marketing and communications, campaigns, education, policy, public affairs, data management, events management, project management and fundraising.
According to the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA), there are approximately 350 zoos, safari parks, bird gardens and aquaria in the UK which employ around 3,000 people in full-time positions.
These include roles such as animal keepers, trainers, behaviourists, veterinary assistants, technicians, conservation officers, wardens, rangers, outreach officers education officers and fundraising officers.
Pharmaceutical companies developing medicines to promote animal health employ approximately 2,000 people in the UK and specifically animal science graduates in a variety of different functions including research & development, toxicology, regulatory affairs, sales and marketing and communications.
The National Office of Animal Health represents companies involved in the research, development and manufacture of animal medicines and provides a list of its members which represents 90% of the industry.
Animal feed companies
The animal feed industry is another key employer within animal health. Roles are varied within this broad sector and include:
- sales and marketing
- food production
- quality assurance
- supply chain
Feed companies who recruit graduates
Animal production companies
Animal production can involve direct care and management of production animals including cattle, pigs and poultry or providing support to those direct care providers.
Within this sector you can be involved in breeding, genetics, pasture management, animal nutrition, disease control, health inspection, quality control, distribution, sales, managing staff and budgets.
- Agricultural business
- Government departments
- Conservation programmes
- Private contractors breeding for shows
- Artificial Insemination companies such as Genus or Dovea Genetics who offer graduate schemes
Government agencies have many roles within animal health and welfare including operational or policy based roles within research, environmental regulation, animal health, animal welfare, disease control, food quality control, meat inspection, livestock marketing and public information.
Departments and agencies to explore:
Animal nutrition is a broad area and nutritionists can choose to focus their work on agricultural, companion or zoo animals. Nutritionists work in a variety of roles including feed manufacture, product development, sales and marketing, technical nutrition, corporate research, teaching, academia, conservation and freelance consultancy.
Examples of employers include:
- Animal and pet feed manufactures - for a list of companies use the PFMA website
- Livestock breeders
- Government departments (see above)
- Agrifood charities - visit AFCP website
What job titles will I look for?
Explore job profiles
Use the Prospects website, National Careers Service and De Lacy Executive websites to read about the following roles and more.
- Animal care worker
- Animal feed formulator
- Animal nutritionist
- Animal technician
- Artificial Insemination Technician
- Feed sales representative
- Feed sales specialist
- Field trials officer
- Nature conservation officer
- Technical Advisor
- Veterinary nurse
- Veterinary physiotherapist
- Veterinary surgeon
Other related roles include:
- Advisory roles
- Animal Behaviourist
- Animal Geneticist
- Animal Health and Welfare Inspector
- Animal Trainer
- Ecological Consultant
- Farm Manager
- Laboratory Technician
- Medical Writer
- Technical sales
What skills and qualifications will I need?
Specific skills requirements will be role dependent, but in general employers will be looking for:
- analysing data
- animal handling
- animal management
- attention to detail
- commercial awareness
- critical thinking
- data handling
- decision making
- interpersonal skills
- organisation and time management
- report writing
- scientific research
Some roles may require further study, for example research roles will usually require a postgraduate qualification, often a PhD.
Some animal technology roles may require a Named Animal Care & Welfare Officer (NACWO) licence.
The following companies run Introductory NACWO courses which are Accredited by the Institute of Animal Technology.
Charles River Education
Learning Curve (Development) Ltd
Red Kite Training
Where do I look for work experience opportunities?
Get involved at Nottingham
Many charities who work with animals are supported through volunteers, so they are always happy to hear from people eager to help out.
It is worth approaching rescue centres, zoos, kennels, catteries, veterinary practices, riding schools, safaris and animal sanctuaries who have not advertised volunteering opportunities, as many will be grateful for your support and willing to accept applications all year round. You could also consider volunteering to do some dog walking or volunteer to help at stables or a horse show.
You may also be able to secure a temporary job working with animals. Many kennels and livestock farms hire seasonal workers to help during busy times of the year.
For example kennels and catteries seek extra help around summer and Christmas and farms take on staff to assist during the lambing season.
If you are interested in going into sales particularly, shadowing an experienced sales rep in the field can give you a real insight into what the job is like and a competitive edge in the recruitment process.
Attending conferences and making use of professional networking websites such as LinkedIn are great ways to start connecting with and approaching professionals.
Some of the bigger pharmaceutical and healthcare companies such as IDEXX, Boehringer Ingelheim and Covance offer animal related summer internships with well-defined recruitment processes.
Some charities, such as Sea Watch also offer unpaid internships that can result in a paid role at the end. Original Volunteers provides a list of grants and funding which students can apply to for help with costs towards unpaid volunteering opportunities.
Some societies and research organisations offer summer opportunities, such as The Fisheries Society of the British Isles which has summer research internships which are funded.
Working or volunteering overseas
If you are interested in working further afield there are many global animal-based opportunities including volunteering on farms or in animal sanctuaries.
Where do I look for graduate roles ?
As well as the suggestions here, check out the websites of the organisations mentioned in the section above, Where might I work?
What does the recruitment process involve?
Large recruiters such as animal feed, pharmaceutical companies or government departments will have clearly defined and well-advertised graduate recruitment processes. They will often start their recruitment in the autumn term, prior to graduation for roles starting the following summer.
Smaller organisations such as charities, research consultancies, conservation parks, are more likely to recruit as demand arises.
For some roles which require specific scientific knowledge and expertise, the recruitment process may involve a technical interview.
Where do I look for vacancies?
Specialist recruitment agencies