RSPCA inspector
Agricultural, Natural, Animal Care

As an RSPCA/SSPCA Inspector you will be working for the Royal Society (or the Sottish Society) for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, checking animal welfare and investigating complaints about ill treatment of animals. RSPCA Inspectors enforce laws relating to the care, transportation and general welfare of pets, livestock and other animals.

Work Activities

RSPCA Inspectors work in animal protection offering a 24/7 service. They undertake rescue work, visit and advise pet and animal owners, investigate cases of abuse and, when abuse is found, complete legal procedures. They are on-call to collect stray and injured animals at risk from dangerous situations.

Typical job responsibilities include:

  • Checking animal welfare and looking into complaints about the ill treatment of animals
  • Dealing with sick, injured or trapped animals
  • Following up cases of cruelty and writing reports
  • Visiting places such as farms, riding stables, pet shops and boarding kennels
  • Finding homes for unwanted animals
  • May have to destroy some animals
  • Giving advice to the police, vets and the public
  • Encouraging humanity to animals and kindness in their handling and treatment
  • Issuing advice to owners
  • Collecting evidence for potential court cases when the law has been broken
  • Taking photographs and video evidence, interviewing suspects and gathering evidence from vets, the Police or other witnesses
  • Taking careful notes at the time of visits and writing reports which may be used as evidence

RSPCA Inspectors are required to travel, possibly over quite a wide area. They work a basic 35 hour week but may be required to work irregular hours, on-call at nights and at weekends. In investigating cruelty allegations, they will have to deal with unpleasant sights, people who are upset, and those who have broken the law.

Work can involve strenuous activity, including climbing ladders and tackling rough ground. The work environment could be dirty and smelly and you could be out in all sorts of weather. There could be a risk of attack from animals and being confronted by threatening behaviour. RSPCA Inspectors wear a uniform and further protective clothing where necessary.

Please note that this job is not open to school leavers. There are few vacancies in this occupation and so entry is highly competitive. Promotion to more senior posts is possible after gaining experience. Further career progression can be to the rank of Chief Inspector and above. There are also a number of specialisms, for example, in prosecutions or training. Qualified inspectors must be prepared to serve in any part of the country. You may be given an accommodation allowance.

Personal Qualities and Skills

Key skills for RSPCA Inspectors

  • Excellent communication skills to deal with people including in confrontational situations
  • A genuine concern and compassion for the welfare of animals
  • Not squeamish when dealing with cases of cruelty and neglect. You must be able to destroy sick animals when necessary.
  • Able to show initiative
  • Able to display sound judgement and fairmindedness
  • The ability to think quickly in emergencies or heated situations
  • The ability to keep accurate notes of incidents and to write up reports
  • To be tactful and approachable
  • To be able to show firmness when enforcing the law
  • Practical skills and confidence in the handling of animals
  • A good level of physical fitness as the work can be active and strenuous

Pay And Opportunities

Typical employers of RSPCA Inspectors

Inspectors are employed by the RSPCA. In Scotland they are employed by the SSPCA. Most RSPCA Inspectors work from home in towns, cities and rural areas throughout England and Wales.


Qualifications and training required

To become a trainee RSPCA Inspector you must have 5 GCSEs grades 9 -4 (A* - C) or equivalent. You must also be able to swim 50 metres fully clothed within 2.5 minutes. You must have a full driving licence and some experience of handling animals. It is worth gaining some relevant work experience with animals before making an application.

In Scotland 5 subjects at National 5 including English , Maths and a Science or animal husbandry qualification. After two years' service you would take the intermediate examination, and the Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) Level 3 (SCQF Level 6) in Animal Care after three years' service. You need to complete the SVQ within one year. Training is in Glasgow with a placement elsewhere.

The training of inspectors lasts for a period of 12 months. The training modules cover such areas as animal welfare laws, basic veterinary skills and animal–handling techniques, court work and investigation skills. There will be periods of practical, supervised training in real life situations. The technical and legal training modules take place at the RSPCA's headquarters in Horsham, Sussex.

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