Pet shop assistants sell animals, such as hamsters and guinea pigs, as well as fish, birds, rabbits, reptiles and insects. They also sell pet food, accessories and bedding.
You could be:
- feeding the animals and exercising them when necessary
- cleaning out cages and tanks
- making sure the temperature and conditions are correct for the animal
- catching a particular fish or other animal for a customer
- serving the customers and taking payment
- advising customers how to look after the animals they buy
- selling pet care products
- ordering, receiving and unpacking stock and filling shelves
- cleaning and tidying the shop.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
- where you work
- the size of the company or organisation you work for
- the demand for the job.
The starting salary is often based on the National Minimum Wage (NMW). At present this is £4.00 an hour for workers aged 16 to 17, £5.55 an hour for workers aged 18 to 20 and £6.95 an hour for workers aged 21 to 24 (October 2016).
As of 1 April 2016 there is a new National Living Wage (NLW) of £7.20 for workers 25 and over. The NMW still applies to those 24 and under, although some organisations offer the NLW to all employees, regardless of age.
With experience, this can rise to £7.50 an hour. Supervisors or assistant managers may earn between £18,000 and £20,000 a year. Managers may earn around £25,000 to £30,000 a year.
- You would work around 40 hours a week, perhaps working five days out of seven.
- You would work mainly indoors at a retail outlet, store or larger pet store supplier.
- You would deal with animals and rodents such as guinea pigs, hamsters and rabbits, as well as reptiles, insects and fish.
- You have to handle animals carefully as they may bite if scared or anxious.
- You will clean out dirty, smelly cages.
- You have to carry heavy items such as cages and sacks of food.
- You might spend most of the day on your feet.
- You may be provided with a uniform to wear, and may sometimes need an apron or gloves.
- Part time work is common.
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- You do not need formal qualifications, but a good general education is useful.
- Experience with animals is useful and may be essential.
- You should be fit enough to carry heavy loads.
- You should not be allergic to fur or feathers.
- Apply to small independent shops, or to pet superstores.
- You could get experience through a weekend job.
Predicted Employment in Scotland
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What Does it Take?
You need to be:
- interested in animals
- gentle and confident in handling animals
- able to learn more about working with animals
- not squeamish
- aware of health and safety
- good at communicating for serving customers and giving advice.
- Your employer might arrange part time training for you.
- You could do a National Certificate (NC) in Animal Care at college. To get in you would need 2-3 subjects at National 4 or 5, preferably including English and Maths.
- You can do a City and Guilds Level 3 Award or Certificate in Principles of Animal Management within a Pet Store by distance learning.
- The Pet Industry Federation offers 15 individual online courses on different animals.
- You might get promotion to assistant manager and then manager.
- You could set up your own shop. You would need a local authority licence to sell animals.
There are some 3,500 pet shops and around 600 specialist aquatic centres in the UK, employing some 15,000 people. (Pet Industry Federation website, 2016).
The following organisations may be able to provide further information.
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