Also known as: 

RSPCA Inspector; SSPCA Inspector.

Job Description: 

Inspectors help prevent cruelty to animals by doing practical investigation work. They provide 24-hour cover for animals in need by responding to complaints about animal cruelty or neglect and reports of suffering wild animals.


The role of an Inspector can be hugely rewarding in terms of making a difference to animal welfare and education of the public. Following a complaint or call, an Inspector will go to the premises, for example a private home, farm, pet shop or kennel, to investigate. They meet the owner and check whether any animals are being mistreated or neglected. They may also talk to witnesses.


If their investigation shows neglect, the Inspector will advise owners on animal care, for example by discussing and explaining correct feeding methods or how to clean out living quarters. If the investigation shows evidence of cruelty, which is illegal behaviour, the Inspector will gather all evidence and remove the animal from the site. They will interview the owner and any witnesses and vets who have seen the animal. Statements are collected and sometimes photos or a video are taken at the scene.


A complete report of the cruelty investigation is sent to the RSPCA headquarters and a decision is made whether to issue a warning or take the matter to court.  An Inspector's report is vital in the decision-making process.

Inspectors also undertake wild animal rescue work. In towns this may involve helping to rescue an injured fox. In rural areas, a deer may be trapped in a ditch or a sheep on a cliff ledge. Once the animal is rescued, the Inspector then has to decide if it is strong enough to be released, if it needs medical treatment or if it must be put down humanely.


Another aspect of the work is educating the public about animal care and protection. This includes giving talks and presentations to schools, colleges, organisations and at special events. An Inspector may be interviewed for local radio or TV as part of a news item or on an animal care programme.

Inspectors work with a wide range of people including the general public, other Inspectors, the police, social services and dog wardens.

Working Conditions: 

Inspectors work 35 hours a week, Monday to Sunday on a rota basis. There may also be some on-call emergency duties.  Inspectors are normally based at home, receiving calls and doing paperwork. A lot of the work is outdoors in all weathers.

Lots of time is spent driving between different locations so a full driving licence is required.  The job may not be suitable for people with certain allergies.

This role can be intellectually, emotionally and physically demanding and will call on the experience, judgement and personal skills of the Inspector.

Inspection work can be dirty, muddy and involve unpleasant smells. Rescue work can be potentially dangerous and involve, for example, climbing trees or cliffs, entering ditches or flood water. Inspectors have to be prepared for some distressing sights.

A uniform is provided.

Salary & Other Benefits: 

These figures are only a guide, as actual rates of pay may vary depending on the employer and where people live:

RSPCA Inspector:


  • Starting salaries are usually £19,284
  • Fully-trained inspectors may earn around £21,00  to £27,000
  • The salary for a chief inspector starts at £27,869. 

Scottish SPCA Inspector:


  • A Probationary Inspector's salary is currently £17,00 - £19,000
  • A qualified Inspector's salary starts at £20,708.
  • Present evidence to court or other hearings
  • Implement plans to maintain animal health and well-being
  • Monitor and maintain the health, safety and security of the workplace
  • Establish and maintain effective working relationships with others
  • Collect and collate information relating to reported abuse or harm of animals
  • Present evidence against individuals alleged to have abused or harmed animals
  • Co-ordinate the care of animals that have been abused or harmed
  • Promote and maintain the health and well-being of animals
  • Restrain animals
  • Conduct interviews with suspects.
Personal Qualities: 
  • Dedicated
  • Caring
  • Genuine concern for animals
  • Able to cope with challenging and emotional situations
  • Able to communicate with a range of people professionally.
Qualifications and training: 

There are a variety of qualifications and training opportunities that can help you:

  • Learn more about your chosen area
  • find employment
  • improve your current skills
  • gain promotion
  • enhance job satisfaction

This a link to the Register of Regulated Qualification held by Ofqual and has been set up to search for a range qualifications in Animal Care Qualifications.  As this search includes all qualifications at different levels and different kinds, you may need to seek further assistance with your tutor or a local college as to the best ones to suit your needs. The qualifications listed on this website are suited if you are resident in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For those of you living in Scotland you need to search for qualifications with the Scottish Qualifications Authority. You will need to choose the type of qualification you are looking for and then search for qualifications available in Animal Care

You may also wish to find out about apprenticeships available in Animal Care and further information can be found on the National Apprenticeship Service website for England.

If you are living in Wales follow this link to the Welsh Government website for more information about apprenticeships

If you are living in Northern Ireland this is the link to Department for Education and Learning for more information on apprenticeships

If you are living Scotland following this link for more information on modern apprenticeship available

Getting In: 

You can no longer apply directly to the RSPCA to become an Inspector.  RSPCA Inspectors are recruited from the RSPCA’s Animal Welfare Officers. Information on current vacancies and recruitment can be found on the RSPCA website,


To be an Inspector, you need to:


  • Care deeply about the welfare of animals
  • Have a strong interest in educating others about animal welfare.

The RSPCA currently employs approximately 330 Inspectors throughout England and Wales. There is strong competition for this role. Applicants for training with the RSPCA must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Have at least five GCSEs grades (A*-C) or equivalent Qualifications
  • Be physically fit and able to swim 50 metres fully clothed
  • Interpersonal skills, preferably in controlling confrontational situations, are essential
  • Have a valid driving licence.

Previous experience of working with animals is desirable. Qualified Inspectors must be prepared to work anywhere in England and Wales although personal preferences may be taken into account where possible.

A conviction (or formal caution within the past 10 years) for a number of criminal offences will mean a definite or likely rejection of an application.


Scottish SPCA Inspector

Candidates should have a minimum of five standard grades, including English, and ideally a qualification in animal husbandry or science. Previous experience of working with large and small animals is valued as is a farming or veterinary background.   

Candidates are required to hold a full, preferably clean current UK driving licence and successful applicants will have to pass a medical examination and an Enhanced Disclosure Scotland check.

Getting On: 

This role provides a structured career path with opportunities for promotion to the rank of Chief Inspector and above for those Inspectors displaying the right aptitude and inclination.


Experienced Chief Inspectors may progress to become Regional Superintendent, work in training or in another management role.

There are sometimes opportunities to work overseas, training Inspectors in other countries or providing support in rescue operations following events such as oil spillages, floods or volcanic eruptions. 

Further Information: 

Further information can be found from the following organisations and publications:

Industry Information

Publications, Magazines and Journals (some may be priced):

  • BBC Wildlife Magazine
  • Cage and Aviary Birds
  • Fur and Feather
  • Here Comes Humanity Dick - Natula Publications
  • Animal Life
  • Animal Action
  • Dogs Monthly
  • Horse and Hound
  • Farmers Weekly
  • Your cat