How to Become a Zookeeper in Australia: Careers in Animal Care

Working as a zookeeper is a great way to help in the conservation and care of wide variety of animals. It can often be a physically demanding job, as it involves a range of duties such as animal rescue, general health, feeding and diet adjustments and working alongside veterinaries in medical procedures. Zookeepers also develop education programs that advocate for the care of endangered species and animal wellbeing in general. Most positions require a form of education or training, but this varies from job-to-job.

  • Task Career in focus: What does a zookeeper do?

    Zookeepers are ultimately responsible for the happiness and wellbeing of the animals in their charge, coordinating the day-to-day care of the animals, monitoring health and happiness, conducting routine medical treatments, writing reports and planning long-term breeding programs. You may also be required to conduct health analysis of an animal and calculate medicinal needs in consultation with others. There are strict animal welfare procedures and protocols to be followed, so you must ensure you and all your staff abide by these regulations. 

    Tasks:

    • Look after the dietary requirements of the animals
    • Make sure animal enclosures are always cleaned and in good condition
    • Consult with other in planning breeding programs
    • Ensuring animals are safe and happy
    • Developing education programs for the public
  • Skills Core qualities: Skills to succeed as a Zookeeper

    A zookeeper’s job can be very demanding, working in sometimes physically demanding conditions, so it’s important you maintain a good level of fitness. Zookeepers must also have a passion for animals and be able to easily pick up the different moods and temperaments of an animal. As a zookeeper, you will need a patient manner and a genuine interest in the wellbeing and conservation of the animals in your charge. This role usually requires; a tertiary qualification, an ability to show you can abide by work health and safety protocols, as well as the capability to conduct your work in an ethical manner.

    Skills/attributes
    • Passionate about animal wellbeing and welfare
    • Patient and nurturing temperament
    • Physical fitness
    • Willing to work outdoors and perform laborious tasks
    • Confidence around small to large animals
  • Specialisations Specialisations

    If you wish to branch out into other animal or conservation work, a zookeeper role is a great place to start. There are lots of different educational pathways you can take to land you your dream job

    Researcher

    Working in animal research can open up a lot of job opportunities with work available in universities, zoos, conservation and environmental industries. Researchers usually focus on endangered species, trying to learn as much about the species as possible so as to ensure its survival. You will also find opportunities in the conservation space, learning about what environmental elements are threatening the survival of a certain species. To work as a researcher, you will usually be required to hold a tertiary qualification in something science or biology based.

    Education officer

    Education officers hope to improve the conditions or survival rates of a certain species of animal through public awareness and learning. They will use their communication skills to pass on their knowledge in an engaging way, advocating for the welfare of a certain type of animal. This can involve working with schools, universities, youth programs or providing workshops to the public. As an education officer, you will most likely need a qualification in conservation, zoology or ecology.

    Veterinarian

    Zoo veterinarians are a crucial part of animal captivity, ensuring that the animals are healthy and caring for those that are injured or unwell. They will often examine animals, conduct tests and recommend treatment or medical plans. They can also provide data to research organisations to help better understand the health needs of animals in captivity.

  • Pathways Study pathways for zookeepers

    If becoming a zookeeper sounds like the job for you, you will need to pick a course that will help you land your job as well as ensure you’re compliant with the state or territory requirements you work in.

    Kick Off Your Career

    Completion of a vocational certificate in captive animals will let you work under the supervision of a licenced zookeeper while you learn on-the-job skills.

    Build Your Skills

    Complete studies that will lead to career advancements, qualify you as a zookeeper or look to a career specialisation. 

    Build Your Resume

    You can pursue high-level employment options if you gain extensive qualifications or specialisation in a particular field of zoology. 

    Industry recognition

    To work as a zookeeper in Australia, you will need to gain a tertiary qualification. Check our resources section to see what other requirements you will need to work in this industry.

    Entering the workforce

    Make sure you have highlighted your strengths and skills in your resume and cover letter by checking our samples.

    Animal Care Job Prospects and Zookeeper Salaries

    To become a zookeeper, you usually require a specialised set of education accreditations and experiences. For this reason, zookeeper roles are highly specialised, with employment opportunities to remain steady over the next 5 years.

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