Could you take on the demanding role of RSPCA inspector?

Being an RSPCA inspector can involve abseiling down a mountainside, swimming while fighting to stay afloat in all your clothes, and dealing with animals ranging from primates to pythons. Despite the challenging nature of the job, the RSPCA is anticipating thousands of applications for the position.
The charity is looking for 24 people to join the ranks of its inspectors, and take on the demanding role which makes a real difference to the lives of animals in need every day. However appealing the job sounds, the charity warns that this career path requires being physically and mentally up to the job’s demands.

Dermot Murphy, Assistant Director of the RSPCA Inspectorate, who worked as an RSPCA ambulance driver, inspector and chief inspector covering London for 16 years, said: “This is a brilliant opportunity for anyone who thinks they’ve got what it takes to be an RSPCA Inspector. No day is ever the same and there’s no better feeling than knowing that you’ve made a real difference to the lives of animals.

“However, anyone considering this job needs to apply with their eyes wide open. It is not easy and you need to be strong mentally and physically to cope with the distressing sights you have to witness, the emotional situations you have to handle and the difficult decisions you have to make every day.

“But for the right person, this could be the chance of a lifetime to get their dream job working on the frontline to improve animal welfare.”

When calls come in from the public about animal welfare matters, it’s the RSPCA’s inspectors who respond, advising owners and investigating concerns. To carry out an inspector’s role it’s necessary to be fully aware of relevant animal welfare legislation, and to use that to inform a cruelty case, and where necessary to pass the information on o prosecutors.

The animals being dealt with can be large – dogs can weigh up to 40 kg, and sheep up to 70 kg. Some calls can require getting into cramped spaces or high places, so a fear of heights or claustrophobia could be a problem. Any allergies to animals could be problematic too.

In addition to being physically up to the job, applicants will need to be mentally robust, with physiological and emotional strength. At times inspectors are faces with distressing, disturbing and heartbreaking situations involving animals. Good communication skills are an asset too, as often the job requires handing people who are extremely emotional, and this can occasionally tip over into being confrontational.

People from all walks of life are being encouraged to apply for the role, and a background in social work or mental health might be useful. The average inspector is currently female and 28 years old, but more mature applicants would be welcomed.

Traditionally Inspectors have been recruited and then be posted anywhere in England and Wales. For the first time, a number of location have been advertised in London, Essex, Surrey, Liverpool, Manchester and West Yorkshire, where the charity would particularly like to attract recruits from but applications will be accepted from across the country.

Inspectors can spend a lot of their time working alone, on a 24/7 shift pattern, 365 days a year and the working hours can be long and demanding.

Successful candidates will spend a year training, taking part in physical tests including a 50m swim fully clothed, written tests, practical animal handling as well as training in handling difficult situations. It costs £50,000 to train and equip each new inspector.

The deadline for applications is 17th March and 160 candidates will be shortlisted and interviewed over six weeks. For more information and to apply to become an inspector, visit www.rspca.org.uk/jobs.