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If you’re studying a course related to animals, like our Certificates in Pet Care/Vet Assistant, Animal Care or Dog Care and Training, but have never worked with animals before then read on! We’ve outlined some ways you could gain experience working with animals while you study, which will help when the time comes to secure work in your dream area.


Volunteer Work

One of the factors that will help set you apart from other people also moving into the industry you’re aiming for is if you have previous hands-on experience working with animals. Apart from actually working in the area, one of the best ways to gain hands-on experience is through volunteer work.

Volunteer work will not only help you get the hands-on experience that will set you apart from others, but it will also help you understand exactly what it’s like to work with animals.

While there are national animal associations and animal rescue groups that have a place for volunteers, there are also plenty of smaller localised animal shelters, sanctuaries, and rescue and rehabilitation centres that you could approach.


Finding Volunteer Roles

Where to find opportunities for volunteer work

  • Seek has a tool for volunteer positions – visit and you  can filter by category. There is even a category for Animal Welfare.
  • Facebook – search for animal and wildlife pages and groups in your area to find relevant local organisations and not for profits that may post about needing volunteers, have some information about volunteering. Or you could even DM them to see what volunteer roles they have available.
  • GoVolunteer is an initiative of Volunteering Australia and aims to match people who are interested in volunteering with appropriate volunteering opportunities.

When committing to volunteer work remember not to overcommit yourself – keep your schedule and existing commitments in mind.

Also, when you’re applying for or following up volunteer roles, remember to be proactive, show initiative, demonstrate your commitment, and show you care.


Animal Foster Care

If you have the time and space available at home, you could gain experience working with animals by becoming a foster carer for rescued or surrendered animals. This involves providing a temporary home and care to animals that aren’t ready to be adopted into a new forever home or even wildlife that need care before returning to the wild.

Some of the animals that come into foster care may require care for a health issue, emotional issue or need behaviour monitoring or assessment.

Before going down this road you need to evaluate if you are financially able to foster an animal, have the time available if an animal has special needs, are able to have animals in your home (e.g. if you’re renting), if any other permanent pets you have will be able to adapt to new foster additions.

If this is definitely a space you want to and are able to enter into, then these resources will help:

The local animal groups you may have found while looking for volunteer roles will also have animal foster care programs, so reach out to them too.


Create Your Own Opportunities

Why not create your own opportunities to gain experience working with animals by starting your own pet sitting or dog walking service?

You could start out small and see where it takes you (either to gaining experience for your dream job or building up your business to be your key focus!).

If you go down this route, don’t forget to check any legal requirements you need to cover off, from the business side and the animal side.

If it’s pet sitting you’d love to get involved with, take a look at Mad Paws. Here you can set up your own pet sitting profile and become a Mad Paws Pet Sitter.

Creating your own opportunities and business demonstrates your commitment to animals and your drive to work in the industry (and your skills!).

Hopefully this has sparked some ideas for you to jump on and will help you build your experience working with animals. Good luck!


Want to work with animals, but aren’t sure what your career options may be? Take a look at this list of 10 of the best jobs working with animals.

Looking for a new course? Take a look at our online animal courses or speak to one of our career consultants for more information.