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Can a 16-Year-Old Work at an Animal Shelter?

can a 16 year old work at an animal shelter

Do you adore animals?

Would you love to have a future career working with animals but are unsure where to start?

Perhaps an animal shelter could be the place for you! Gaining experience and working alongside professionals who dedicate their lives to animals every day could be a rewarding position and an excellent life experience to add to your resume.

But how old do you have to be, and can a 16-Year-Old work at an animal shelter?

Well, here’s how you go about it…

Unfortunately, there is no simple answer. Depending on the animal shelter in your area and the hiring process, the hiring age may vary between 16 and 18 years old.

Don’t let that put you off visiting your local shelter and enquiring about the age requirements. They may hire someone younger as long as their state laws are in line with government laws.

can a 16 year old work at an animal shelter

Getting Hired At An Animal Shelter

First of all, be aware of the child labor laws and work permits in your state. Before you begin applying for jobs at an animal shelter, you should find out the age requirement, the maximum number of hours you can work, and the qualifications you may need for the job.

Roles In An Animal Shelter

There are several job positions at an animal shelter. Some varying from requiring a high school GED, Bachelor’s degree, and even a Ph.D. Depending on the role you apply for, your experience will be necessary, as well as your credentials.

Specific jobs are likely to come with an age requirement; for example, if the job requires you to drive, you will have to be of age to obtain a driver’s license.

Animal Shelter Assistant

This role varies throughout the states, but you can guarantee you need to love animals and be a caring, empathetic individual. Many animals come from abusive homes and are troubled. You must be able to take care of and work with behavioral issues.

You should have excellent communication skills as assistants communicate with the public and staff throughout the shelter. The role requires a high school GED and having previous experience working with animals is a bonus.

can 16 year old work at an animal shelter

Animal Service Aide

This role entails more direct contact with the animals; a service aide must observe animals and watch for any illnesses or injuries. They are also responsible for providing food and water to the animals throughout the shelter and assisting in cleaning and the daily upkeep of their kennels and living space.

Veterinary Assistant

This role would be suited to someone interested in pursuing a veterinary career. The applicant should have a few years of experience working with animals and experience in veterinary or surgical procedures. They should also be able to use a computer and schedule appointments and surgeries for animals coming to the shelter.

Animal Control Assistant

This role also requires a high school GED and at least a year of experience working with animals. The assistant should have good physical health as they are often required to hold animals and keep them settled during euthanasia and surgery. Control assistants should have a passion for caring for animals and have excellent communication skills.

can 16 year old work at the animal shelter

How To Apply?

First of all, take a look online; Google is your best friend! Search for animal shelters in your area, make a note of them, and don’t be afraid to give them a call. If you cannot reach them or are busy, you can stop by and speak to the receptionist. Come prepared with questions, and present yourself well.

Remember to ask the minimum age requirement first if you are under 18. From there, you can continue your conversation or ask about voluntary positions if you do not fit the age group; I’ll touch on that later…

Communication is critical…

If the shelter has a website, you can complete the application online. If the website has a printout option, print the application and take it to the shelter yourself. Request to speak to a supervisor or manager and pass over your application.

Communication is critical in these roles, so you should be willing to talk with a manager and showcase some of your skills. Visit the shelter, wearing smart clothes, perhaps a nice shirt, black trousers or skirt, and dress shoes, or trousers and a clean shirt for men.

Dependant on donations…

Many shelters depend on donations. The smaller companies or independent shelters may hire younger staff with less experience depending on their labor laws. If there is nothing available online, visit the shelter yourself and talk to the team.

Volunteering At An Animal Shelter

I know what you’re thinking, volunteering equals no pay. However, it does equal invaluable experience. Don’t give up just yet. Here’s why…

If there are no jobs available at the animal shelter, but you still want to gain experience in that environment, why not volunteer and pick up a part-time job on the side. The shelter can have a 16-year-old shadow staff and help out.

Already have a foot in the door…

Then when you are 18 and have reached the age requirement, you already have a foot in the door. Volunteering does not have to be overly time-consuming, any little help, even if it is four hours a week or a morning at the weekend. It also shows your dedication to the shelter and puts you in a great position when you reach the age requirement to apply for a job.

Other Jobs For 16-Year-Olds

If there are no available jobs at any animal shelters, don’t give up hope of financial security and independence. There are plenty of other places that hire minors, and it’s another excellent way to build up your resume before you apply for other jobs in the future.


Many well-paid jobs are available in supermarkets, and they hire minors such as Publix, Krogers, and Walmart. These are excellent places to work to build up customer service experience and communication skills.


Restaurants are another great place to build up your resume and earn some extra tips on the side! If you are looking for a job with flexibility and different working hours, hospitality could be the job for you.

can a 16 year old work at the animal shelter


Working for yourself is also an option at 16. Are you good with computers? Love writing? A social media wizard? There are many opportunities online with writing work, content creating, and writing jobs; you can build up your portfolio or find work on websites like Fiverr and Upwork.

Dog Walking/Pet Sitting

If you are dead set on searching for a job involving animals, why not become a dog walker or an animal sitter? Many people want animal lovers to take care of their pets during the holiday season, and busy working families often pay people to walk their dogs while they have work commitments.

Word of mouth also spreads fast; if you successfully market yourself (using flyers, posters, and social media), you could have a great business up and running in no time!

Need Help Putting Together Your First CV?

Don’t be nervous; we’re here to help! Just check out our resume advice on the Most Important Skills To Put On A Resume, How To List References On A Resume, and Achievements To List On Your Resume, or what about Job Titles On Resume, and How To List Education On A Resume, as well as the Hobbies Interests To Put On Resume, How To Write A Letter of Interest, and of course How To Address A Cover Letter to begin with.

You can find pretty much anything online, and we did! Take a look at these awesome guides such as CVs, Resumes, and LinkedIn: A Guide to Professional English, Marketing Yourself in the Age of Digital: CVs, Applications, Interviews, Social Media, LinkedIn, as well as Land Your Dream Job: Join the 2% Who Make it Past Resumé Screening, the English for Academic CVs, Resumes, & Online Profiles.

Or how about the Optimize Your Resume: DOs and DON’Ts the SamNova Way, the Resume Formats book, or perhaps Resume Writing: 10 Ridiculously Simple Tips, the Resume Format Guide, and the How to Write an Amazing IT Resume, all available online in 2023.

Online profiles are an amazing way to job hunt, so start working on yours with my Best Linkedin Profile Tips and my Best Linkedin Recommendation Examples. As well as reading up on LinkedIn For Dummies, and How to Write a KILLER LinkedIn Profile… And 18 Mistakes to Avoid, LinkedIn Profile Optimization For Dummies, Ignite Your LinkedIn Profile, or even LinkedIn Riches: How To Use LinkedIn For Business, Sales and Marketing! also available online today.

Final Thoughts

Working at an animal shelter could be the dream job for any animal lover. It is easily done as part-time work while you are at school or studying. The experience would be invaluable and look great on your first resume!

But make sure you check the labor laws and hiring requirements for your chosen shelter before you begin your application. If there are no options available, don’t feel defeated! Apply for another job in the meantime and keep your eyes peeled for future shelter openings.

All the very best Working at an Animal Shelter!

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