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Do you want to work as a sanctuary animal caregiver?

  • Read about the most important info you need to decide on following this career.
  • ​Follow the 7 points below and search for a tertiary institution near you for future studies. If you already are graduated, you may also search through our list of Jobs in the main menu.
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UPDATED: 20 August 2020

1. What is a sanctuary animal caregiver?

A Sanctuary Animal Caregiver works at a privately owned Sanctuary by caring for the different animals.

​Sanctuaries rescue different kinds of animals that might have been abused (such as farm animals), abandoned or not able to take care of itself in the wild. The sanctuary becomes their forever home until they pass away.

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 at times used interchangeably. Careers in Rescue Centers and Shelters are discussed separately on this website. ​

2. What does a Sanctuary Animal Caregiver do?

Career Categories:

The Sanctuary Animal Caregiver career can be found within the following OZT career categories:

  • Animal Care
  • Livestock & Farm Management
  • Wildlife Conservation
  • Marine Conservation

What does a Sanctuary Animal Caregiver focus on?

The main focus of a Sanctuary Animal Caregiver is to assist in maintaining the health of resident 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 Sanctuary Animal Caregiver?

  • 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
  • Exercise the animals to keep them entertained and healthy
  • Assist the resident veterinarians when animals become ill
  • In some cases also bathing, nail trimming and grooming of animals
  • ​Work and interact with sanctuary visitors, volunteers, and various groups
  • Ensure proper use of equipment

3. The work environment of a Sanctuary Animal Caregiver

Where does a Sanctuary Animal Caregiver work?

Environment –

In most cases the Sanctuary Animal Caregivers will be working outdoors and within shelters to care for the animals.

Places of Employment –

Animal sanctuaries and in some cases, large petting zoos.

What is the average annual salary of a Sanctuary Animal Caregiver?

The average salary of permanent Sanctuary Animal Caregivers is around US$20,000 per year. Part time workers earn around US$9 per hour. 

Can a Sanctuary Animal Caregiver be promoted?

Sanctuary Animal Caregivers may be promoted to Managers in larger sanctuaries, or move to similar careers in the pet care industry at shelters and rescue centers. Some also open their own sanctuaries.

What kind of difficulties may a Sanctuary Animal Caregiver 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 Sanctuary Animal Caregiver your ideal career. Caregivers may also be required to work irregular hours including evenings, weekends, and holidays in all kinds of weather.

Future Growth and Possibilities:

The career outlook for people working in the animal care industry is good, especially in the sector dealing with the care for animals previously used in and by large corporations (such as experimentation)

4. Which Skills are required by a Sanctuary Animal Caregiver?

The skills required for a career as a Sanctuary Animal Caregiver 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

Career Skills:

  • Animal handling and care techniques
  • Ability to give educational talks to the public
  • ​Good health and physical fitness
  • Basic computer literacy
Life Skills
Career Skills

5. Which Subjects must I have at School to 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!

6. What will I need to Study to become a Sanctuary Animal Caregiver?

Minimum educational requirements:

Generally, Sanctuary Animal Caregivers 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 a College diploma and by 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 animals (such as animal first aid), 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 sanctuary animal caregiver 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 Sanctuary Animal Caregiver Group to learn more and even interact with the educational institutions that will help you secure your dream career!

Average level of education of people entering this career:

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

7. Licenses, Certificates, Registration and Professional Associations

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.

Sanctuary caregivers do not require specific legal documentation, certification or licenses to enter this career.

Learn more about requirements if you are thinking of running your own sanctuary, by joining the Group in STEP 8.

8. 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 want to contribute to the Career information? Please click on the red beetle to learn about being an OZT mentor and contributor.

Sanctuary Animal Caregiver

Join the OZT community

Join us as a special member and learn more about becoming a sanctuary animal caregiver.

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 Sanctuary Animal Caregiver, 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.

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