How to become an interpretation officer and zookeeper: Chris' story

What’s your job?

I’m an interpretation officer at Shepreth Wildlife Park. My job involves going out and doing outreach to schools and giving talks around the park about certain species of animals. Also I do the ‘keeper for the day’ experience where I accompany anyone who goes out to meet the wolves or who goes in with the lemurs.

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Qualifications

Throughout school I was always known as the ‘animal boy’. After I finished my GSCEs I went to do A-levels in biology, photography and geology. I then did a degree in zoology at university. On this course, there were modules on different aspects of animal life, so although it was a lot of work towards the last two years, it was certainly worth it.

Chris - interpretation officer

Best thing about your job

I’m quite lucky because I’ve always had a clear goal. I’ve always wanted to be where I am now. I’ve known that since I was about four.

Top tips

Open your mind however you can: as soon as I got out of university I went straight over to Uganda and I was there for about six months teaching local school children. To see how other people live is a fantastic experience and it helped me understand how we shouldn't take things for granted.

Chris' role is similar to that of a zookeeper. Zookeepers look after animals in zoos, safari parks and aquariums.

What to expect if you want to be a zookeeper

  • Zookeeper average salary: £14,000 to £25,000
  • Zookeeper typical working hours: 37 to 40 hours per week

What qualifications do you need to be a zookeeper?

You could get into this role via a university course, a college course (such as a Level 3 Diploma, an A-level in Biology or a T-level in Animal Care and Management - England-only, from Sept 2023), an apprenticeship, volunteering, or working towards the role by completing a Diploma in Management of Zoo and Aquarium Animals (DMZAA) if you're working in a zoo or aquarium.

Sources: LMI for All, National Careers Service, GOV.UK

This information is a guide and is constantly changing. Please check the National Careers Service website for the latest information and all the qualifications needed and the GOV.UK website for more on T-levels.

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