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Educational Requirements for Animal Rescue Careers

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The education needed by a person working in an animal rescue depends on the person's job. There are numerous career options available in animal welfare, ranging from the person who cares for the animals to the person who answers the phone.

In the Kennels

No previous experience or training is necessary to work as an animal care technician, though most animal shelters prefer to hire people who have handled animals before. Kennel supervisors are generally hired based on prior experience as an animal care technician. Some clinics also have a groomer on staff. Groomers usually are trained in certificate programs or apprenticeships.

The Vet Clinic

Large rescue organizations may have a vet clinic as part of their facilities. Usually the vets volunteer their time or are paid on a daily rate, but vet technicians and vet assistants may be part of the vet clinic's staff. Vet technicians must have a certification from an accredited two-year program. There are certification programs for vet assistants, but most are trained by their employers.


Animal control and humane investigator positions usually require no more than a high school diploma; however, these are positions for which previous animal experience is preferred. Some organizations may require a two- or four-year degree, but this is not an industry standard. Employers will provide training.


Administration is where positions vary the most in education requirements. One shelter's director, for example, may be hired based on experience alone, but another shelter may prefer experience and a four-year degree in their administrator. One shelter may only hire a candidate with a degree in animal science, while another may look instead for business management experience. Generally no more than a bachelor's degree is required. Other positions in administration can include human resources, public relations and adoption counseling.

Organization Size

Education requirements also vary depending on the size and location of the organization. In a small shelter, one person may be responsible for managing the shelter, hiring the staff, advertising the shelter and updating the website. People who work in the kennels may also serve as receptionists. However, in a large organization, there may be an executive director, a full-time receptionist, several kennel staff, a humane resources officer, as well as other office staff and volunteers. A large organization may be more particular about education requirements.