Rescue Center Assistant Summary

How do I become a rescue center assistant?

READ: This page helps you to read about the career and the info you need to decide on whether this is indeed the career you want to follow.

RESEARCH: ​Learn about the skills required and minimum subjects to enter this career, as well as the places where you can study further after school.

PREPARE: If you want to plan and prepare for the career, then join the OZT Community! Members have access to tools, while chatting with other students and experts from around the world. Prepare to be amazed!


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UPDATED: 29 August 2020


What is a rescue center assistant?

A Rescue Center Assistant works at privately owned Rescue Centers by caring for the different animals. Rescue Centers rescue different kinds of domesticated animals, such as dogs, cats, rabbits, exotic birds, horses and donkeys and a variety of other pet species, and place them up for adoption or rehabilitation.

What is the difference between a Shelter, Rescue Center and Sanctuary?

The two main differences are purpose and funding:

Shelters are normally government run and funded places where animals are kept temporally, allowing the animals to be adopted and kept as pets, or rehabilitated and released back into the wild.

Rescue Centers have the same purpose as Shelters, but are privately owned and funded mainly by donations. 

Sanctuaries are privately owned and funded places where animals are brought to live and should be able to retire in peace, respected and protected.

The three names are unfortunately used interchangeably. Careers in Animal Shelters and Sanctuaries are discussed separately on this website. 

What does a Rescue Center Assistant do?

With which Groups of animals does a Rescue Center Assistant work with?

Cats List Icon
Dogs List Icon OZT
Critters List Icon OZT
Farm Animals Icon OZT
Farm Animals
Mammals List Icon OZT

Career Categories

The Rescue Center Assistant career can be found in the following categories:

  • Animal Care
  • Farming & Livestock Management

What does a Rescue Center Assistant focus on?

The main focus of a Rescue Center Assistant is to oversee the well-being of the rescued animals. A good knowledge and understanding of the various animals and their behaviour is recommended. One Zoo Tree has information on all these breeds to help you learn more about them. Just visit the specific animal page in the main menu at the top of this page.

What are the daily tasks of a Rescue Center Assistant?

  • Assist is rescuing (capturing) abandoned or distressed animals
  • Prepare food and feeding the various animals
  • Making sure the animals have enough water
  • Cleaning and maintaining the kennels or cages
  • Playing with some of the kinds of animals to keep them entertained and healthy
  • Assist Rescue Center Manager or Owners and resident veterinarians when animals become ill
  • In some cases also bathing, nail trimming and grooming of animals
  • ​Work and interact with visitors, volunteers, and various groups
  • Ensure proper use of equipment

The working environment of a Rescue Center Assistant

Where does a Rescue Center Assistant work?

Environment –

Mostly indoors within the shelters.

Places of Employment –

In most cases the Rescue Center Assistant will be working at registered Rescue Centers or Shelters.

What is the average annual salary of a Rescue Center Assistant?

The average salary of permanent Rescue Center Assistant is around US$20,000 per year. Part time workers earn around US$9 per hour. 

Can a Rescue Center Assistant be promoted?

Rescue Center Assistants may be promoted to Managers, or move to similar careers in the pet care industry. Some also open their own centers or shelters as a business or non-profit organization.

What kind of difficulties may a Rescue Center Assistant face?

The most difficult part of this career is being able to work with stressed animals. Animals can get difficult and temperamental when they sense a new person in their space. Learning to deal with such animals is important to make Rescue Center Assistant your ideal career. Caregivers may also be required to work irregular hours including evenings, weekends, and holidays.

Future growth and opportunities

With the ever increasing population of pets, the career outlook for people working in the pet care industry is very good, which includes the rescue centers.

Availability of Jobs


Which Skills are required for a Rescue Center Assistant?

The skills required for a career as a rescue center assistant can be divided into two very important groups. The first is the group containing life skills, which are the core skills that are necessary or desirable for full participation in everyday life. The second group is career skills, or the specific skills required to allow a person to enter and operate effectively within a specific career. Some or maybe even all of the life skills can assist in strengthening the career skills, and they might even be the same for specific careers.

Life Skills

  • Self-awareness
  • Empathy
  • Critical thinking
  • Creative thinking
  • Decision making
  • Problem Solving
  • Effective communication
  • Interpersonal relationship
Life Skills

Career Skills

  • ​Animal handling and care techniques
  • Basic customer service skills
  • Good health and physical fitness
  • Basic computer literacy
Career Skills

Which subjects must I have at school to help prepare for this career?

The subjects you choose at school are important as they lay the foundation for further studies at college or university. While still at school, it’s also important to learn more about the animals you will work with, as well as gain some experience.

OZT has a list of various tertiary institutions where you can study further, after school. Each of these institutions also have their own Group page on OZT where you will find the exact subjects they require of you to have passed in school. Keep these requirements in mind, and discuss it with your school, guidance counselor and parents to ensure that you are prepared!

What will I need to Study to become a Rescue center Assistant?

Minimum educational requirements

Generally, Rescue Center Assistants must have at least a minimum of a high school diploma (certificate), when working for an established organization.

Although further education is not necessary, the best caregivers learn additional skills on the job, or acquire skills through completing short courses.

Study Focus

When you do decide to further your skills, you might want to focus on short courses that specializes in caring for domesticated animals, as well as dealing with behavioral issues.

Study Duration

The duration of short courses differ, but can range from a few days to a few weeks.

Possible Career Preparation Paths

If this is your dream career that you want to pursue, then it’s important to plan the way forward.

Why is planning important?

To ensure that you understand the requirements for your career, and that you are always prepared for the next step on the road towards your dream. A Preparation Path is like your road map to where you want to go.

Possible Path(s):

Possible Combined Career Paths

It is possible to sometimes combine two or more related careers. This normally happens when you study and practice a specific main career, but the knowledge and experience gained also help you to have a paying hobby or secondary income career.

Possible Alternative(s):

Stepping Stone Career

Being a rescue center assistant can also be used as a stepping stone career. A stepping stone career is one which is used to help you get to another career, normally because the other career is too difficult to reach (sometimes due to things like high fees etc).

You can begin as an intern after basic short courses and expert guidance (maybe working under a mentor). The money made can then be used to pay for studies towards a promotion or another career, and the experience helps in gaining knowledge. One paying to help get to the other.

Some of the possible paths:

Training and apprenticeship

Even though it is important to study to get into some of the animal caregiver careers, most of the skills you will need will be acquired through on-the-job training. This means that you will learn how to perform some of the daily tasks by actually doing it a few times and learning the steps.

In some cases entry level positions (or junior positions) require training sessions even before you are allowed to actually perform your job duties. These sessions are offered by the place of employment, after you have successfully applied.

Apprenticeship is also possible where you need to learn skills from a more senior person or expert. The more hands on careers, such as animal trainers might require apprenticeship.

Join the Animal Trainer Group to learn more and even interact with the educational institutions that will help you secure your dream career!

Average level of education of those entering this career:

High School Certificate 0%
Diploma or Short Courses 0%
Degree or Higher Studies 0%

Licenses, Certificates, Registration and Professional Organizations

Certain animal care careers require some form of legal certification to prove that you can indeed do the work, and work with the necessary equipment.

Although the Center will require legal status, the normal workers do not.

Learn more about requirements by joining the Community.

Where can I study further?

All of the above information will help you understand more about the Career, including the fact that there are different paths to take to reach it. But if you are almost done with High School (Grades 11 or 12), you also need to start thinking about further studies, and WHERE you will study.

See the List of Universities, Colleges and Online Training Academies who offer courses towards animal care.

Do you have information that you would like to contribute to this course? Please click on the red beetle to access the contribution form.

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Join our OZT community and Rescue Center Assistant Group

Join us as a special member and learn more about becoming a rescue center assistant.

Members of the Platform have special access to:

  • Info on the best places where you can study (colleges, universities and online)
  • Expertly designed advice to prepare you for the career, and links to places where you can gain valuable experience. For some career experience is necessary, otherwise you wont get the job!
  • Top notch info on each of the different species you will work with
  • Make friends around the world and share knowledge 
  • Compete and win points, badges, games, prizes and certificates. Be the best of the best, while you learn and prepare!

If you have decided on being a Rescue Center Assistant, please click on the JOIN GROUP button. Members will be directed to the Group, and non-members will be assisted to register first.

If this career is NOT the career for you, then you may return to the MAIN CAREER menu to start a new search and learn about a different career.

Other interesting Careers

Career Profiles and Resources

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Contributions by expert members are always appreciated to allow the Students to make informed decisions. Please add your contribution through the attached Form:

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List of Career Mentors/Educators who have contributed to this Career info:


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