Job profile

Animal Technician

Animal Technician Job Profile

What is an Animal Technician?

Animal technicians fill their workdays with caring for animals within medical research labs and scientific facilities. The day-to-day tasks revolve around exercising and meeting the nutritional needs of the animals, in addition to ensuring they are clean and comfortable.

As the welfare regulations in the UK are strict, animal technicians need to work to specified guidelines to ensure all welfare needs are met, and the highest possible standards of care are provided. 

By proxy, you will support scientific research, such as programs designed to develop new treatments and diagnosis methods. Further into your career, you will assist researchers and become directly involved in experimental research. Working environments are variable, depending on the nature of the experiments, the species you are caring for and the work environment.


Animal technicians are expected to: 

  • Be actively involved in ensuring the highest possible level of welfare for lab animals and improve their quality of life
  • Provide food and water to the lab animals
  • Administer medicines, if necessary
  • Safely move and handle the animals
  • Clean enclosures to ensure the animals are as comfortable as possible 
  • Monitor and regulate the environment in the enclosure, where necessary
  • Notice and document behavioural changes and problems
  • Monitor the health and conditions of animals 
  • Collect samples, take measurements and record data
  • Act in accordance with the 1986 Animal Act 


Once experienced, you may also be expected to:

  • Select or breed animals for research and look after new-born lab animals 
  • Take an active role in creating conditions and setting protocols for experiments by using your knowledge of the individual species
  • Predict or interpret responses to trials


  • Depending on experience, animal technicians may need to start in assistant roles, which offer £14,000 – £17,000 salaries. 
  • With at least two years of experience as a trainee technician, the starting salary is as high as £28,000. 
  • Senior animal techs can expect to earn £30,000, while specialists and facility managers can earn up to £55,000.

Working Hours 

As lab animals need to be cared for and monitored on a 24 / 7 basis, technicians tend to work on a rota basis. In a full-time role, you can expect to work 37 hours each week; working on bank holidays, weekends, late at night and early in the morning isn’t unusual. However, most employers make overtime payments for holiday and weekend work.

Once you are experienced and qualified, you may be eligible for more part-time positions.

What to Expect

  • Your work environment will depend on the species you are caring for; if you are working inside, you may need to endure humid and hot conditions. 
  • The job is often physically and emotionally demanding. 
  • Typically, you will work in one location. However, qualified technicians can apply for work overseas. 
  • High levels of attention to detail and concentration are crucial. 
  • Protective clothing is a requirement for every animal technician. 
  • By working in animal research, you may be subject to adverse reactions or comments from animal rights advocacy groups, your social circle and members of the general public. 


Despite the job title, being an animal technician doesn’t involve overly technical work. As a result, for entry positions, you won’t need an undergraduate degree or a higher national diploma. Many employers are more concerned with how genuine your interest in animal care is. 

However, for more advanced positions, a degree in toxicology, physiology, pharmacology, animal behaviour, biology, microbiology, immunology, and pathology may work to your advantage while attempting to fill a vacancy. 

Higher national diplomas in animal science, animal management and animal welfare can also give candidates a competitive edge. Alternatively, you can embark on the 24-week Animal Technician Development Programme; a variety of employers offer vacancies to trainees after they have completed the program.


To stand out in the animal tech job market, you will need to show: 

  • You care about the welfare of animals and possess a willingness to care for them
  • You have a keen eye for detail and can maintain a high level of concentration
  • You have above-average computing and mathematical skills 
  • You are responsible and accountable
  • You respect confidentiality 
  • You are fit enough to physically caretake for animals 
  • You can work on your own initiative
  • You’re aware of the ethical issues surrounding animal research
  • You can work and communicate well with a variety of professionals

Work Experience

Previous work experience within animal care or welfare is one of the best ways to prove to a potential employer that you have a genuine interest in animal welfare. Depending on the position you are applying for, it doesn’t typically matter if this direct experience with animals is paid or voluntary work. 

Caring for other people’s pets, working in a rescue shelter, or clocking up experience in a veterinary practice or on a farm can all help to boost your chances of a job offer. Any work experience which proves your interest in working within a lab is also helpful but is not necessary.

Career Prospects

There are no shortcuts through the career ladder as an animal technician. You will start at the bottom rung of the ladder by carrying out basic tasks, including cage cleaning and feeding. However, studying for a diploma in animal technology can allow you to gain the hands-on experience and training required to reach the position of a senior technologist faster. 

As a senior technician, you can expect a significant pay increase along with additional duties, which may include line management, trainee technician supervision and quality of care control. Once experienced as a senior technician, the next step up is being a facility manager or specialist, where you will be responsible for the smooth running of the facility. If you are more interested in going down the research and genetics path, you could also embark on a career in breeding or genetically altering animals. Alternatively, with enough experience and expert knowledge, you could become a Named Animal Care and Welfare Officer.


Trainee and qualified animal technicians typically find employment in academic institutions and commercial institutions, such as: 

  • Governmental or private research institutes 
  • Pharmaceutical organisations 
  • Teaching hospitals 
  • Breeding laboratories 
  • Medical colleges 
  • Veterinary colleges 
  • Universities

As you would expect, there are more pharma research centres in London, and they tend to be slightly more prolific in the South-East, but that isn’t to say there aren’t plenty throughout the rest of the UK. 

The best places to discover your career options include IAT Career Opportunities and New Scientist Jobs, or you can allow a specialist recruitment agency to facilitate landing you a job role, such as S3 Science.

Related Courses 

Diploma in Animal Science and Technology 

IAT provides level 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 level diplomas in animal science and technology for people wanting to pursue a career path as an animal technician. At level 2, you will build basic animal husbandry knowledge and skills. At Level 6, you will even be given the opportunity to develop your own research project to demonstrate your skills under the guidance of expert tutors. As IAT is considered industry leading specialist in the provision of animal care and lab science education, there are few better institutions to study with.

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