Animal Trainer Job Description
Animal trainers train animals for many different purposes including obedience, performance, disability assistance, security, and riding.
Some animal trainers work with domestic animals like dogs, while others work with large and potentially dangerous animals like lions, elephants, and tigers.
Regardless of the type of animal that a trainer works with, a lot of repetition and patience is required to reinforce the desired behavior. Depending on the behavior that a trainer is trying to reinforce, training can last anywhere from a few days to many months.
Animal trainers are often required to provide care to the animals they’re training. Feeding, cleaning, and maintaining animals is an important part their job.
For people who love animals, this can be a very rewarding occupation.
Work Environment and Schedule
The work environment for animal trainers varies greatly depending on the employer they work for as well as the type of training they’re doing. For example, dog trainers sometimes work in pet stores, parks, people’s homes, and dedicated training facilities. Other types of animal trainers may work at stables, race tracks, or marine facilities.
When working with aggressive animals, this can be a dangerous occupation. Some animals are very slow to develop trust with their trainers. To do their jobs well and reduce the risk of injury, animal trainers have to be very patient and cautious around the animals they’re working with.
Many animal trainers work full time, but there are also many opportunities for part time work.
It’s common for animal trainers to work irregular hours. For example, trainers who work with pets normally have to work around their clients’ schedules, which may mean working on nights and weekends.
How to Become an Animal Trainer
A minimum of a high school diploma is usually required to work as an animal trainer. For entry level positions, animal trainers are usually trained on the job by an experienced trainer.
Training some animals requires additional education and training, though. For instance, if you want to train marine animals, you will need to have a bachelor’s degree in zoology, marine biology, animal science, or a related field. Additionally, you would need to be able to swim very well and obtain a SCUBA certification.
If you want to train dogs or other pets, the educational and training requirements are not nearly as demanding, and you can learn all you need to know through extensive on the job training.
Since the requirements can vary so much from position to position, we recommend that you conduct informational interviews with people in the field you want to work in. Through the informational interview process, you can learn more about what you need to do to have a career in this occupation.
Before you will be hired to work as a trainer, you will need to get some experience working with animals. Volunteering at an animal shelter or a zoo can be a great way to get the experience you will need to have a career in this occupation.
There are currently 45,800 animal trainers in the United States, with 590 new animal trainer job openings created each year.
Animal Trainer jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.
Animal Trainer Salaries
Animal Trainer salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most animal trainers make between $19,600 – $36,800 per year, or $9.41 – $17.70 per hour.