Animal Education

By ACS Distance Education on January 30, 2019 in Animals, Careers & Jobs Success | comments
Learning about animals is an important industry in itself. Formal and informal courses provide both foundation and CPD training to farmers, zoologists, veterinarians and anyone else working in animal industries. Teachers, course developers and administers find significant careers in  these situations.

Scope of Work

Education work can be formal or informal and may include:
Teaching - groups, classes, individual tutoring, distance learning, any age or demographic;
Program Development - course curricula, text materials, video, online courses, apps, interactive software;
Management - education providers, PD, administration, management, marketing.

Work in schools, colleges and universities may include both teaching and research in topics related to zoology, behaviour or animal husbandry.
Work in zoos, rehabilitation centres, aquariums (‘touch tanks’) might involve educational programs e.g. guided tours or presentations within the centres or businesses.

Animal education can be a large or smaller part of any of the following jobs:

  • aquarium assistant, wildlife interpretation officer
  • wildlife charity educator
  • teacher, instructor, trainer, work supervisor
  • animal book writers, illustrator, photographer
  • diver, tour guides, wildlife officers, park rangers.

What You Need to Learn

  • Project Management – fundamentals about project management, risk assessments, delivery
  • Communication techniques – public speaking, digital media, writing skills, visual art, photography
  • Animal Biology – animal anatomy and physiology, biochemistry
  • Scientific Methodology – hypothesis, methodology, sampling strategies, theories
  • Animal Ethics – standard animal welfare codes of practice, general welfare legislation
  • Animal welfare – animal psychology, rescue centres, free and captive animal welfare,
  • Human Psychology – perception, behaviour, personalities

Starting a Career

Most start their career by volunteering for a laboratory, research group or a wildlife rehabilitation centre. Others will volunteer to do some administrative, digital media or marketing work for a non-profit organization working in educational projects.

Pathways include:

  • volunteering with a wildlife organisation to help develop and deliver presentations
  • working in digital media to build development skills
  • taking courses on teaching and working with community centres
  • going out in the field with a local association or friends society
  • delivering papers at seminars, helping run industry workshops

There are several opportunities for those interested in volunteer work in wildlife, pets and farm animals. Some will work as animal assistants in pet shops or zoos, rehabilitation centres and so learning about the animals and seek for alternative ways to expand their knowledge and network.

Progressing a Career

As you learn more and develop communication skills; your capacity to teach or manage education services will expand.
By networking (eg. joining professional associations, serving on committees, attending meetings); colleagues become increasingly aware of you; you become increasingly aware of opportunities to move your career forward.
Careers in animal education progress when  you remain involved, and grasp new opportunities whenever they arise (if it offers progression even if there is no monetary benefit; do it!)

There is a constant need to recycle your knowledge about animal taxonomy, phylogeny (genetics-based information), as they tend to change every year (as the scientific truth). Textbooks are constantly updated; so, a good educator should never stop seeking for informal or formal learning. In that sense, they will keep track of what is acceptable as truth in that current moment.

Some will work at schools; others will find work at governmental or a non-governmental organizations, development and improvement of educational programs.