How to become a RSPCA or SSPCA Inspector. Read through our comprehensive job guide to learn more about this career.
What does a RSPCA or SSPCA Inspector do?
As a RSPCA inspector (SSPCA inspector in Scotland), you would investigate and help prevent cruelty to animals.
Your work would include:
- 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 cannot be treated
- inspecting animal establishments such as kennels and pet shops
- inspecting events like circuses, agricultural shows and race meetings
- working closely with 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.
You would begin as an animal welfare officer. Your tasks in this role would include:
- investigating low-level complaints
- collecting and rescuing animals
- supporting inspectors in their work with more involved cases.
In the SSPCA, you could be an auxiliary inspector, covering remoter parts of Scotland. You would be trained to assess situations and decide whether an inspector needs to attend.
In the RSPCA, you would work 35 hours a week. As the RSPCA provides 24-hour cover, you would work shifts including weekends, nights and bank holidays. In the SSPCA, you would work 37.5 hours a week. In some areas you would work a shift system covering weekends, bank holidays, and evenings or nights.
You would work both indoors, and outdoors in all weather conditions. You could be involved in potentially dangerous situations – for example rescuing animals can involve climbing cliffs or trees.
As a RSPCA inspector, you must be prepared to work anywhere in England or Wales, although your personal preferences will be considered. In the SSPCA you can be expected to work anywhere in Scotland.
How much does a RSPCA inspector earn?
Salary and pay information:
- Qualified inspectors earn from £25,246 to £28,078 a year.
This includes an accommodation allowance. There are additional allowances for inspectors working in London.
- SSPCA inspectors can earn from £20,000 to £22,000 after around five years.
They also receive a housing allowance.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
There is no longer direct entry as an RSPCA inspector – you would first be recruited as an animal welfare officer. You would need:
- physical fitness
- the ability to swim 50 metres fully clothed
- a full UK driving licence
- at least five GCSEs (A-C) or comparable qualifications
- excellent interpersonal skills.
Experience of working with animals is desirable. 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 on do-it.org.uk.
Visit the RSPCA website for details of local animal centres, recruitment dates and more details of relevant qualifications and experience.
For the SSPCA you need:
- physical fitness
- 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. Visit the SSPCA website for details of local centres, relevant qualifications and experience.
You can find information about other opportunities for voluntary work with animals in your area on the Volunteer Scotland website.
- Volunteer Scotland
Training and Development
Once you start work with the RSPCA, you will receive full training alongside practical work at both national and regional offices.
You may also be able to work towards Level 3 Award/Certificate/Diploma in Work-based Animal Care.
In the SSPCA, your training would 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.
Skills and Knowledge
- clear communication skills
- the ability to handle animals confidently
- logical thinking and good judgement
- the ability to handle confrontational situations
- accurate report writing ability
- the ability to deal with unpleasant and distressing situations
- teamworking ability.
The RSPCA has inspectors based throughout England and Wales. The SSPCA employs around 49 inspectors and chief inspectors based all over Scotland.
When vacancies are available they are advertised on the RSPCA or SSPCA websites. Both organisations receive large numbers of applications, so competition for jobs is very strong.
As an experienced RSPCA inspector, you could have the opportunity for promotion to chief inspector, managing a team of five to ten inspectors, then to regional superintendent and on to management or training posts in headquarters.
In Scotland you could be promoted to senior inspector, chief inspector, superintendent and chief superintendent.