Careers Guide for jobs

RSPCA Inspector Career Advice

If you are wondering how to become an RSPCA inspector, below are tips and advice on training for and beginning careers in this area of working with animals or agriculture, as well as job prospects in the UK.

The Job Description
RSPCA inspectors, known as SSPCA inspectors in Scotland, investigate and help prevent cruelty to animals.

Typical responsibilities:

investigating neglect and cruelty complaints
advising owners on proper care, issuing warnings or taking some cases to court
deciding if rescued animals need medical treatment
putting animals down humanely if their condition is too serious for treatment
inspecting animal establishments such as kennels and pet shops
inspecting events such as circuses, agricultural shows and race meetings
working closely with other professionals, such as the police, local councils, veterinary surgeons and dog wardens
rescuing wild animals such as deer or foxes which are injured or trapped
producing written reports
giving evidence in court
giving talks and presentations to educate the public about animal care and protection.
A few inspectors do undercover work, which includes infiltrating groups who run dog fights or badger baiting in order to gather evidence prosecute.

The RSPCA also employs animal collection officers who collect, secure and transport animals that are injured or sick, or need to be removed from threatening or dangerous locations. They help with animal rescues, and may have to carry out animal euthanasia.

The SSPCA employs auxiliary inspectors who cover remoter parts of Scotland and are trained to assess situations and decide whether an inspector needs to attend.

Person Specification
The key personal attributes of RSPCA inspectors include:

clear communication skills
the ability to handle confrontational situations
the ability to produce accurate written reports
logical thinking and good judgement
the ability to deal with unpleasant and distressing situations
teamworking ability
the ability to handle animals confidently.

How to become an RSPCA inspector
To be a RSPCA inspector you need:

to be physically fit
to be able to swim 50 metres fully clothed
a full UK driving licence
a degree or at least five GCSEs (A-C)/S grades (1-3) or comparable qualifications
experience of working with animals.
One way to get experience is to volunteer to help at one of the RSPCA animal centres, for example with day to day animal care or dog walking. You can find out about other opportunities for voluntary work with animals by contacting your local volunteer bureau. Details of local bureaux can be found on the Volunteering England website (in Further Information).

Write to the RSPCA or visit their website (in Further Information) for details of local animal centres, recruitment dates and more details of relevant qualifications and experience.

For the SSPCA you need:

to be physically fit
at least five S grades or the equivalent, including English
relevant qualifications from an agricultural college and experience of working with animals
a full UK driving licence.
You might be able to volunteer at a SSPCA animal welfare centre – details of local centres are on the SSPCA website.

Training and Development
When you start work with the RSPCA you will follow a seven month training programme. The programme includes:

12 weeks training at the RSPCA centre in Horsham
eight weeks field training in two centres
written examinations.
You will then have a six month probationary period before becoming fully qualified.

You may also be able to work towards NVQ Level 3 in Animal Care.

In the SSPCA your training will take place at the headquarters in Edinburgh, and last for five months. The programme includes:

in-house training
courses with other organisations
ongoing assessment and a final examination.

The Pay (a rough guide)
RSPCA student inspectors start at £20,838 a year.
Qualified inspectors earn £25,460 a year.

Job Prospects
The RSPCA has 323 inspectors based all around England and Wales. Each year they have about 20 vacancies for new inspectors. The SSPCA employs around 49 inspectors and chief inspectors based all over Scotland. They recruit about three new inspectors each year. Both organisations receive large numbers of applications, so there is strong competition for jobs.

As an experienced RSPCA inspector you could have the opportunity for promotion to chief inspector, managing a team of five to ten inspectors, and then to regional superintendent and on to management or training posts in headquarters.

In Scotland you could be promoted to senior inspector, cheif inspector, superintendent and chief superintendent.

Useful resources:
Wilberforce Way
West Sussex RH13 9RS

Braehead Mains
603 Queensferry Road
Edinburgh EH4 6EA
Tel: 0131 339 0222