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47% of the population owns a pet and dedicates large proportions of income on their animals' health and welfare.
This means that there are lots of job opportunities for young people to enter animal care career industry.
Additionally, huge amounts of money and time are donated to animal welfare charities and organisations, with around 15,000 registered animal charities.
The animal care industry encompasses all professions and businesses focused towards the health, welfare, grooming, supervision and husbandry of all animals, wild or domestic.
The animal care industry is worth around £1 billion to the UK economy, with approximately 13,000 different businesses, as well as many self-employed professionals (Lantra). Whilst individual animal care businesses are usually relatively small, they can generate a lot of income, depending on their speciality and their skilled workforce.
Veterinary medicine is perhaps the most obvious career path for those wanting to work in the animal care industry, but with high standards of qualification and skill required of veterinary surgeons and nurses, it involves many years of dedicated and often expensive study to become qualified.
The UK also has a strong zoology sector, with qualified professional scientists and researchers working in the study of animals and their behaviour.
Animal conservation and protection is extremely popular in this country and numerous organisations and zoos work to promote the conservation of wildlife.
For more in-depth information on the the different job paths within Animal Care, please follow the links below:
Veterinary medicine has a very structured qualification route, with all veterinary surgeons, nurses and zoologists requiring formal education and qualifications, usually in the form of a degree.
For those who do not wish to go down the traditional higher education route, animal care offers a number of professions that require skill and experience rather than formal or academic qualifications.
Professions in the equine industry, pet care businesses and wildlife parks and zoos, for example, will generally not demand formal qualifications.
Additionally, there are many volunteers in the animal care industry and around one fifth of the workforce begins embarks on a career in animal care through voluntary work.
The animal care industry as a whole is changing, due to an increased interest and focus on animal welfare and conservation.
This had led to the introduction of new laws, such as the Animal Welfare Act, where businesses need to meet certain levels of care for animals and promote the correct standards of animal welfare to others.
More and more private businesses and professionals are becoming registered with relevant bodies, or gaining accredited qualification.
Therefore, whilst experience is the most important requirement, many businesses have started requiring fully-qualified staff members, and there are increasing amounts of courses available at specialist animal care colleges and institutions.