The South Australian animal care and training industry employs 4,300 people, which is around 0.5% of the State’s workforce.

Most people in this industry work in jobs that relate to farms, such as working with cattle, sheep and horses, while the remainder work with domestic animals.

Around half of the jobs in this industry are in rural areas, and the other half are in metropolitan Adelaide and surrounds.

Job openings for skilled workers

Animal attendant and trainer


Veterinary nurse


Quick facts about this industry

  • The majority of people work full-time.
  • The most common qualification held by workers in this industry is a certificate III/IV or a university degree.
  • Around 54% of workers in the industry are male.
  • People are generally younger than those in other industries.
  • To work in this industry you need to be patient and calm, have no allergies to animal fur and have a keen interest in animals.
  • Veterinarians earn more than $2,000 per week, while veterinary nurses earn between $400 and $800 per week. Zookeepers and animal technicians earn between $600 and $1,000 per week.

School options

Ask your vocational education and training (VET) Coordinator at school for information about doing vocational education during the South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE), including the Training Guarantee for SACE (or equivalent) students. Visit the VET section of the SACE website for training options in:

  • Animal care
  • Racing

Vocational qualifications include:

  • Certificates II - III in Animal Studies
  • Certificate III and Diploma in Animal Technology
  • Certificates III and IV in Captive Animals
  • Certificates III and IV in Companion Animal Services
  • Certificate IV in Animal Control and Regulation
  • Certificate IV in Equine Dentistry
  • Certificate I – Diploma in Racing with specialisations in stablehand, greyhound, racing administration, steward, racehorse or greyhound trainer, track rider, farriery and jockey
  • Certificate II – Diploma in Racing Services with specialisations in cadet steward, steward and racing administration
  • Certificate IV and Diploma in Veterinary Nursing with specialisations in surgical, dental, general practice, and emergency and critical care

See courses related to this industry.

University disciplines include:

  • Animal behaviour
  • Animal science
  • Aquaculture science
  • Marine biology
  • Veterinary science
  • Wildlife conservation science

Explore university courses offered in South Australia, including courses from:

For more information about university courses visit South Australian Tertiary Admissions Centre (SATAC) or for information about student satisfaction visit Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT).

Apply to study

For application information for South Australian universities and some TAFE SA courses, visit the South Australian Tertiary Admissions Centre (SATAC).

For subsidised training enrolment information, see Enrolling in subsidised training.

For more information, call the Infoline on 1800 673 097.

Occupations in this industry

Occupations in this industry can be divided into two general streams — those that involve working with domestic and farm animals, and those that involve working with animals in the sport and recreation industry.

Working with domestic and farm animals

Veterinarians diagnose and treat sickness, disease and injury in all types of animals. They advise on how to prevent the occurrence or spread of diseases and to improve the health and productivity of animals.

Veterinary nurses assist veterinarians in the treatment and care of animals needing medical or surgical attention. They prepare animals for treatment, administer medication, monitor and exercise hospitalised animals, sterilise instruments, clean cages and advise clients on animal behaviour and nutrition. They also perform reception and administrative tasks for the veterinary clinic.

Shearers cut wool from sheep, goats and alpacas using power-driven handpieces, which are fitted with combs and cutters. Expedition shearers work in a team and travel long distances from property to property to work. Others may work within their own district and travel daily from home to the shearing shed.

Dog trainers working with domestic animals usually focus on correcting bad behaviour, training dogs to obey commands and perform specific tasks. Trainers also work with guide dogs, other assistance animals for people with a disability, police dogs and ‘sniffer’ dogs for police and border protection (customs).


Zookeepers help care for animals in zoos and wildlife parks, providing enrichment activities for the animals, assistance to veterinary staff, and information to the public on animals and conservation.

Animal technicians help veterinary, medical, pharmaceutical, agricultural and general scientists and students to care for and check on animals kept for research, breeding and scientific purposes.

Sport and recreation, including racing

Dog and horse racing includes training services, operating racing kennels and stables, maintaining horse and dog racing tracks, as well as administrative services offered by racing authorities and boards.

Horse trainers and jockeys usually specialise in working with:

  • thoroughbred horses for galloping races
  • standardbred horses for pacing or trotting races
  • performance horses for events, show jumping and dressage.

Stablehands assist with maintaining and cleaning stables and handling horses. With experience, and sometimes further training, a stablehand may progress to stable supervisor. Some stablehands who show potential and are light in weight may become apprentice jockeys.

Dog trainers in the sport and recreation industry usually specialise in enhancing the performance of racing dogs. A limited number of people train animals for entertainment performances in theme parks or for television and film.

Key occupations

Other occupations in this industry include:

Animal technician, boarding kennel/cattery operator, customs dog handler, dog trainer, guide dog instructor, horse trainer, jockey, stablehand/stable supervisor, wool handler, wool classer or zookeeper.

Related industries for these occupations

Useful links


Career information has been sourced from government publications. See data sources for more information.

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