Career as a RSPCA inspector

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Tracy is an RSPCA inspector in Birmingham. There are less than 330 RSPCA inspectors in the UK and between them they investigate 100,000 complaints of animal cruelty a year.

Tracy's daily work can involve anything from routine inspections of farms and pet shops to rescuing trapped, stranded or injured animals.

What does your job involve?

My job covers three main areas. I investigate complaints of cruelty and neglect which involves prosecuting where necessary, rescuing and collecting injured and sick animals, and providing help and information on animal care and welfare issues.

How do you rescue animals?

I have a variety of rescue equipment in my van, such as nets, swan hooks and graspers. I also use animal carriers, which come in a variety of sizes, shapes and forms to handle all the types of animals I may encounter.

What inspired you to work for the RSPCA?

I trained in agriculture initially before becoming a veterinary nurse – I have always liked working with animals. However, this job is the one I have always wanted to do. Being able to help animals that are badly treated or injured is very satisfying and you feel that you are doing a really worthwhile job.

Do you ever find the work upsetting?

Yes, it can be stressful as I sometimes have to deal with aggressive and abusive people. You have to be tactful and patient even when you're annoyed at how people treat their animals. Once I had to rescue 75 very distressed cats from one person's home who could no longer look after them.

Have you ever been injured?

Sometimes the animals become very stressed and you have to learn how to calm them down first before handling them. I was bitten by a dog and ended up in hospital once for four days. However, while I was at home recuperating, I looked after an abandoned dog that ended up becoming my pet.

What training have you received so far?

My initial training lasted six months and took place at the RSPCA's national headquarters. At the centre, I learnt a range of skills involved in boat rescue, rope rescue, ladder work, legal issues and how to cope with aggressive people. I also have a refresher course to update these skills every year.

What hours do you work?

I work from 9.00am to 5.00pm, Monday to Friday. However, animals can need help 24 hours a day, so I am on call during the evenings and have weekend duties – but these extra duties are on a rota system.

Do you have to wear a uniform?

Yes. I wear trousers, a shirt, jumper or jacket and boots. I've also got waterproofs, overalls and boots for wet weather and for use during rescues. I wear protective clothing when I'm dealing with an animal that might bite, scratch or kick.

What do you like best about your job?

I like the variety of work and people that I meet. I also get a real sense of achievement when I help an animal or improve its standard of life.

What are the skills and qualities needed?

You need patience, confidence, the ability to communicate with all kinds of people, a non-judgemental approach and a levelheaded attitude. You also need the ability to lead and take control of any situation.

What are your future work goals?

I want to continue to improve the welfare of animals and eventually become a member of the society's international department.

Tracy's route to becoming an RSPCA inspector

  • GCSEs.
  • A levels.
  • National Diploma in Agriculture.
  • Veterinary nurse at local practice.

Tracy's RSPCA inspector tip

  • Gain as much experience working with as many different types of animals and people as you can.

RSPCA inspector related jobs

RSPCA inspector salary

  • Probationers earn £14,500. Once trained, an inspector's salary can reach £23,000 and up to £26,000 as a chief inspector.

Working as an RSPCA inspector

  • Competition is fierce. The RSPCA says 2,000 people apply to become inspectors every year and only 20 are successful.
  • Applicants need:
    • at least 5 GCSE A-C passes/O Levels (or equivalent)
    • relevant experience working with animals is a plus
    • Applicants have to be physically fit
    • able to swim 50 metres fully clothed
    • a full, clean driving licence
  • You cannot be hired as an RSPCA inspector any more you start as a RSPCA AWO Animal Welfare Officer

Modified: 16 June 2013

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