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Career profile: Animal behaviourist

Career profile: Animal behaviouristGet the lowdown on what the job involves, what qualifications you need and how long it takes to train.

A what?

Animal behaviourists diagnose and treat behaviour problems in animals. Vets often refer pet owners to them when their animals are playing up.

On the job

From zoos to laboratories, animal behaviourists can work in a variety of settings, normally concentrating on creatures in captivity. Most animal behaviourists make their money from treating pets and their owners. They are also described as ‘pet behaviour counsellors’.

Some of the common problems an animal behaviourist may deal with are aggression. toileting and livestock chasing. Often the pet counsellor will watch the owner and pet together and then offer advice on how to change their pet’s behaviour.

The salary falls between £15,000 and £30,000 a year, depending on the person’s qualifications, experience and clients.

Course entry requirements

To join the register of Certified Clinical Animal Behaviourists (CCAB), which is administered by The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB), applicants need a degree in a biological or behavioural science.

Entry requirements for degree courses in biology or animal behaviour vary, but you will probably need at least two A levels, four Highers, or their equivalent, and one of these should be in biology.

What does the training involve?

Foundation degrees in animal behaviour are offered at several colleges and universities. They generally last two years full time, or a variable length of time if studied part time.

Honours degrees are also offered at several colleges and universities. They last three years full time, or four years if one year is spent gaining practical experience. Part-time courses last between five and six years.