A Zookeeper looks after animals in a Zoo or Safari Park. Responsibilities will include feeding, grooming, cleaning out enclosures or cages, making sure the animals are fit, healthy and disease free. They will also give talks and presentations to members of the public, observe and keep records of the animals, liaise with the vet if any of the animals are unwell.
You can get into this job through:
You could do a course before applying to a zoo for a trainee zookeeper's job. Relevant courses include:
- Level 3 Extended Diploma in Animal Management
- Level 3 Diploma in Animal Care or Animal Science
- Biology A level
You'll usually need 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English, maths and science.
The following local colleges offer courses in Biology or Animal Care:
- City College Norwich
- East Coast College
- Easton College
- One Sixth Form College
- Suffolk New College
- The College of West Anglia
- West Suffolk College
Or your local 6th form may offer a relevant course.
You could start by doing an intermediate or advanced apprenticeship in animal care and welfare. This may help you to get a job as a trainee keeper with a zoo.
You could also do a keeper or aquarist advanced apprenticeship, depending on where you work.
You may be able to specialise in training zoo animals by completing an animal trainer higher apprenticeship.
You'll usually need:
- some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship
- 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
- 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship
Click here to search for an apprenticeship.
You can do a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree in:
- animal or zoo management
- animal behaviour and welfare
- zoology or marine zoology
- animal conservation and biodiversity
- veterinary science
Zoos vary in what qualifications they ask for and it can depend on what their zookeepers are going to do.
You'll usually need:
- 1 or 2 A levels, or equivalent, for a foundation degree or higher national diploma
- 2 or 3 A levels, or equivalent, including a science, for a degree
Click here to search for a suitable course.
You could complete a Diploma in Management of Zoo and Aquarium Animals (DMZAA) if you're working in a zoo or aquarium.
You can volunteer in a zoo or wildlife centre to get experience. This will be important, as there's a lot of competition for trainee jobs. You could get experience volunteering at:
- kennels, farms or riding stables
- animal sanctuaries or rescue homes
Any experience you can get working with the public will also be helpful preparation for educating visitors to the zoo. Many animal charities offer opportunities to promote animal welfare directly to the public, or online, through social media campaigns.
You'll need to pass a enhanced background checks, as you may be working with children and vulnerable adults.
Career Path and Progression
In larger zoos, wildlife parks or aquariums, you could progress from keeper to team leader or head keeper.
You might need to be willing to relocate to another part of the country to work your way up into higher positions, as competition for senior jobs can be tough.
With experience and a degree, you could become a curator. You could also move into education or conservation research.
Related careers you may be interested in:
- Animal care worker
- Animal technician
- Veterinary nurse
- a genuine interest in animals and their welfare
- an interest in conservation
- to be fit and healthy
- to be prepared to work long hours
- to be able to give talks and presentations to members of the public
- excellent verbal communication skills
£12,000 to £25,000