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TAFE NSW helps Orange local land dream zookeeping job


TAFE NSW helps Orange local land dream zookeeping job

Tim McMaster is only 20, but thanks to TAFE NSW the Orange local has already landed his dream job as a zookeeper.

Tim completed a Certificate II in Animal Studies at TAFE NSW Orange and now works at the Canberra Reptile Zoo caring for animals and showing his scaly friends to wide-eyed visitors.

“TAFE NSW was always my first choice – I was told by every zookeeper that TAFE NSW was the best pathway into the industry because the courses are hands-on and practical,” Tim said.

“TAFE NSW taught me the skills I needed in animal husbandry and record-keeping, which is a huge part of zookeeping. Some of the more specific skills you have to learn within a zoo, but TAFE NSW provided all the basics to launch my career.”

In June 2021, the National Skills Commission produced the latest Skills Priority List to look at skills shortages in the Australian labour market, predicting strong future demand for zookeepers.

Tim kicked off his career by undertaking work placement and then volunteering with the Canberra Reptile Zoo. Four months later he was rewarded with a full-time job.

“I was shocked when I got it. I’d wanted to be a zookeeper since I was a kid, so it was amazing to find myself actually doing it,” Tim said.

“I was saying to mum recently not to worry because I work with crocodiles every day, and then I thought, ‘Wow. That’s right. I work with crocodiles every day!’”

Canberra Reptile Zoo owner Peter Child said Tim's TAFE NSW study was the clincher that secured him the position.

“The fact Tim was doing the TAFE NSW course showed this was not just a passing interest for him and that he was committed to learning and pursuing a career in zookeeping,” Mr Child said.

“We were impressed by Tim’s determination and hunger to learn. He lived in Orange but drove the round trip to Canberra one day a week to volunteer with us once his work placement ended. That really set him apart.”

Tim now has his sights set on completing a Certificate III in Captive Animals with TAFE NSW to hone his skills working with exotic animals.

He said his favourite part of the job is teaching visitors to view dangerous and deadly animals in a new light.

“I love talking to people and educating them about animals, particularly the ones people traditionally don’t like or are scared of,” Tim said.

“It’s incredible when visitors come, and they are terrified of a snake and don’t want to be in the same room, but throughout the session they slowly warm up and end up patting the animal. That’s a wonderful feeling. I want everyone to love the animals as much as I do.”

Explore hundreds of courses and pursue your passion with life-changing training at TAFE NSW. For more information, visit or phone 131 601.


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