Working with animals can be a very rewarding career. There is the chance to work outdoors, with cute animals and make a difference to the care of animals. However, securing one of the animal health jobs available isn’t always easy. And when some people realise what is entailed in a career in animal health, they decide the job isn’t for them.
So, here are some of the truths of working in any of the animal health jobs available in the UK.
1. It isn’t a 9 to 5 job
Animal health is important. Consumers demand that animals being bred for food are humanely treated and given the best care. Farmers also don’t want to lose livestock because that is a financial loss to them. This is all reasonable, but that does mean that when there is a concern, no matter how small, it has to be dealt with quickly.
This can mean that you’re disturbed late at night, or on a day off, in order to go and help an animal in need of care. One of the busiest times you might experience is around lambing and calving. Animals often give birth late at night or early in the morning, so be prepared for these disruptions to your normal life.
Another aspect is that you might be required to work extra long hours. Particularly during busy seasons. You might not get this time back, but if you enjoy working outside or with animals, then you might think that is just a bonus.
2. Illnesses in animals can look unpleasant
One of the big things that can sometimes put people off working with animals is that illnesses and injuries aren’t pleasant to look at. In fact, they can be stomach-churning. A person looking at animal health jobs needs to be able to detach from the sights to identify the problem and find treatment quickly.
But that doesn’t mean that enduring the ‘unpleasant’ smells, sights and all isn’t worth it. Seeing an animal recover can be a very rewarding part of the job and knowing that it is you who has made a difference can be a proud moment.
3. Treatments aren’t always easy
Many people when they go to the doctor are often sent to other departments in hospitals for analysis and further investigation. That is because the visual symptoms aren’t enough to solve the problem of what is happening to the patient. The same can be said with animals.
Sometimes you won’t know what is causing symptoms and you need to run more tests or get in further support. You shouldn’t be ashamed of this. Animals are very good at hiding their illnesses and blood tests and other tests are needed in a lot of cases.
4. Expect the animals not to like you
Sometimes animals don’t understand that you’re trying to help them. Sometimes, when you’re assessing them, you might give them some discomfort and an animal has no way to tell you it hurts other than to try to bite, kick or scratch. You have to be wary of these actions and try to avoid them at all times.
That said, you should also expect that at some point in your career, you will be injured, if only slightly by an animal in your care. However, you are more likely to receive an injury if you are complacent around an animal. Therefore, always be on alert and look for behaviours that might signal the animal is ready to strike. The signs are numerous, but they are dependent on the animal.
5. Sometimes animals need to be put down
Sometimes there is nothing that you can do for the animal except put it to sleep. For some, this might be a distressing part of the job. However, it is a natural aspect of life and end-of-life management is an important part of animal welfare.
It is also important to note that in some cases, otherwise healthy animals are culled. This could be because of an outbreak of a very contagious disease the government wants to prevent the spread of, or for some other reasons. This can also be very distressing. But often the first thought is whether there is any chance for the animal to be saved and an end-of-life plan is only made when necessary.
6. It is a dirty job
Vets often have this very clean appearance. However, if you’re working in agriculture in animal health jobs, you’re likely to get at least muddy, if not more. This can mean you get home at night needing a good shower.
But the positive of this is that you’re often working outdoors, which can be very beneficial for your health. Research has found outdoor work improves both mental and physical well-being as well as cognitive skills such as memory and focus. So you might find the trade more than reasonable.
7. You need to do a lot of paperwork
With current regulations then you need to complete lots of paperwork. If this is something that is unappealing then you might not want to search for animal health jobs. But the regulations are there to protect the animal and make your job easier if another professional has seen the animal before you.
Just be aware that you will have to complete paperwork yourself and your time isn’t spent just with the animals.
8. You need good people skills
While your main focus will be with the animals and ensuring their good health. That doesn’t mean that you aren’t interacting with people. In fact, you need good people skills to explain problems the animals might have, why they need certain treatments and other things. Therefore, diplomatic skills are vital for the success of your daily tasks.
If you’re looking at animal health jobs, then you probably have a desire to work with animals ensuring they have the best care. That is an admiral career pursuit and one that can be rewarding. But with the excellent career perks, there are also parts of the job you might not like. Knowing these before starting your career might prepare you more and therefore ensure that you aren’t unhappy when you come across these parts of your daily life.
If you're looking for work in the agricultural sector, Agricultural Recruitment Specialists can help you find the right niche in the UK, Europe and beyond. We can assist in finding which doors are open for you with your specific background and even advice on what you could do to improve your prospects.
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