Animal Caretaker

Department Of Agriculture Ames, IA
* Duties

Help Duties Summary

This position is being concurrently announced under Merit Promotion procedures on ARS-M18E-0110 announcement number. Disabled Veterans, candidates with 3 or more years of active duty military service, and candidates eligible for special hiring authorities can apply to the Merit Promotion announcement if they meet criteria for the above and include supporting documents.

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Provide animal care on a full time basis working with animals in confinement operations, biological containment, or research settings.

Cares for a variety of animal species, including but not limited to: traditional laboratory animals (hamsters, rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, and rats), domestic livestock (cattle, sheep, horses, goats, and pigs), aquatic species used in aquaculture, poultry (chickens, geese, and turkeys), exotic animals and alternative livestock (bison, deer, and elk) and wildlife (raccoons, mink). Adheres to guidelines for the humane handling of animals to prevent injury to animals and/or personnel.

Assists in diagnostic and experimental procedures by capturing and restraining animals for treatment, examination, or specimen collection, both ante and postmortem.

Operates equipment such as euthanasia chambers, two-ton chain hoists on a rail system and hydraulic necropsy tables. Also, will operate forklifts, trucks and automobiles.

Operates, maintains, disinfects and fumigates isolation cages. The cages are used to contain pathogen-free animals or animals infected with zoonotic (human pathogen) disease agents such as, but not limited to Avian Influenza, Exotic Newcastle Disease, Tuberculosis, Brucella and Rabies.

Reports to supervisor and the facility veterinarian any situations observed, such as temperatures and other pertinent clinical data which may endanger animal or personnel safety.

May operate tractors powered by gasoline or diesel engines, have four wheels and up to sixteen forward gears and steered with a conventional steering wheel. Tractors may be equipped with front mounted loaders, rear mounted bale fork, blade, by operating a Power Take Off (PTO) driven mower or belly mounted mower and PTO driven manure spreaders.

Travel Required

Not required

Supervisory status


Promotion Potential


Who May Apply This job is open to… US Citizens and Nationals; no prior Federal experience is required.

Questions? This job is open to 1 group.

* Job family (Series)

5048 Animal Caretaking

* Requirements

Help Requirements Conditions of Employment

* Satisfactory background investigation and/or fingerprint check

* Respirator fit test is required

* Valid state motor vehicle license required

* US Citizenship is required

* Pre-employment Physical is required

* A 1-year probationary period is required

* Selective Service Registration is required for males born after 12/31/1959

Working Conditions: Position is in a location that includes Biological Safety Level 2 and 3 biocontainment facilities. Works with animals infected with zoonotic diseases (human pathogens) such as but not limited to, Avian Influenza, Exotic Newcastle Disease, Tuberculosis, Brucella and Rabies.

Because this is an exigency position, the incumbent is expected to report for duty when the lab is closed due to hazardous weather, heightened threat levels or natural disasters and budget shutdowns. Work may involve discomforts such as having to spend long periods of time on concrete or slippery floors, exposure to bites, scratches, kicks, disagreeable odors, allergens and animal wastes from diseased or distressed animals.

The incumbent may be required to frequently wear personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks or respirators, eye and ear protection, boots, gloves and coveralls when providing care to animals that represent a potential source of zoonotic disease or other biohazard. Various forms of respiratory protection equipment must be worn when working with certain infections agents, chemicals and allergens. PPE provides necessary protection against biological and chemical hazards but may increase the risk of accidents due to decreased vision, hampered communication, limited mobility and dexterity. Physical well-being may be compromised by the prolonged usage of the PPE and may lead to labored respiration, heat stress and dehydration. Work may be performed daily in the presence of hazardous chemicals such as formaldehyde, virucidal and bactericidal disinfectants and detergents.

Physical Effort: The incumbent performs activities involved in the care, treatment and observation of animals and collection of biological specimens. Moderate to heavy physical exertion is required daily for restraining large animals and moving feed, hay, bedding and equipment (up to 75 pounds). May be required to move large animal carcasses and/or portions of carcasses in carts weighing up to 300 pounds, with the assistance of handling equipment.


In order to qualify for this position you must meet the following by the closing date of the vacancy announcement.

Qualifications will be determined under the Job Element Rating System X-118C, Qualifications Standard Handbook. While a specific length of time and experience is not required for most Wage Grade positions, you must show through experience and training that you possess the best qualified level of knowledge and skill necessary to perform the duties of this position. Qualification requirements emphasize the quality of experience, not necessarily the length. The responses to the questionnaire and your resume should be in significant detail to provide the person rating your application with a good understanding of your ability to do the job, technical knowledge, work, and training experience, etc. (For example, you must have the ability to perform the duties of an Animal Caretaker, WG-5048-06 without more than normal supervision (Screen Out)). Applicants who do not meet the SCREEN OUT ELEMENT will not be given further consideration.