How to become an RSPCA inspector

RSPCA inspector Andy Eddy shares his top career advice. 

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Andy Eddy handling a hooded vulture

What was your career path? 

I did an architecture degree before joining the RSPCA in 1997 as an animal collection officer, which involved dealing with collections and rescues. After about 10 years I became an animal welfare officer and complaints became part of my remit before I trained as an inspector a few years ago. This is not the normal career path into this role as most people join the society as a trainee and complete a seven-month training course before graduating as an inspector.

What qualifications are required?

To apply to be an inspector you must have five GCSEs at grade C or above, including english and maths, a full UK driving license and some animal handling experience. You must be prepared to relocate anywhere in England and Wales and work unsocial hours. You must also have proven interpersonal and administrative skills and be able to swim 50m fully clothed.

What skills do you need?

Good people skills are vital as inspectors deal with potentially confrontational situations all the time, often alone. I frequently need to communicate with owners who are angry or upset that the RSPCA has become involved. 

What equipment do you use? 

The most important piece of equipment I have is a pen, to take notes, write advice, warnings or interview records and take statements, which may all be used in court. I also have a van full of animal handling equipment and containers, including goggles, graspers, scissors and swan hooks.

What is a typical day for you?

I start my day by checking my list of outstanding jobs and then prioritise them, which gives me the structure for the day. Once I’ve attended the first job, which could be about a dog being mistreated or a cat being neglected, I will head to the next case. However, during the day more urgent jobs may come in, like a swan tangled in fishing line, so I often have to change my plans. Most days are spent on the road going from job to job.

What are the best and most challenging parts of your role?

Highlights are being able to get hands-on with some amazing animals, such as a slow-worm or kingfisher. It’s especially rewarding when you can rescue an animal in distress and release or rehome it once it is fit and healthy. One of the hardest parts of my job is managing a hostile situation while trying to deal with a large number of sick or injured animals. I have to ensure everything is recorded and done according to relevant legislation. 

What advice would you give to an aspiring RSPCA inspector?

I would advise an aspiring inspector to be very resilient because the job can be emotionally disturbing as well as incredibly rewarding. 

Find out more about the RSPCA.

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