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Animal Trainer

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Many people turn their natural love of animals into a fun and well-paying career.

Not only does an animal trainer get to do what they love for a living, but they can branch out into an incredibly wide range of occupation and career options that might surprise you.

Becoming an animal trainer can provide a great escape from the normal worries of a job, and can add outdoor activity as well as new and fun challenges to your life.

What is an Animal Trainer?

An animal trainer is someone that can use a variety of techniques to produce desired behavior in a wide range of animals.

Animal trainers can also use their skills and knowledge to reduce or eliminate undesirable or problem behaviors.

What is an Animal Trainer Called?

An animal trainer may often be referred to as an animal behavior specialist.

What Does an Animal Trainer Do?

An animal trainer uses their skill and knowledge of animal communication and behavior to alter the animal’s actions.

For example, an animal trainer who works at a doggy daycare facility will help make sure the dogs are safe and teach them basic manners and obedience.

Jobs Related to Animal Trainer

There are many different lines of work similar to an animal trainer, a few of which we will discuss in detail below.

1. Groomer

A groomer works with various animals and their owners to ensure they have clean fur and healthy skin.

Groomers will also frequently give animals trims and care for their nails as well.

2. Dog Walker

A dog walker is someone who arranges to walk dogs when their owners cannot allocate time for it.

They will ensure that the dogs get sufficient daily exercise and activity and that they have an opportunity to eliminate during the process.

They also help socialize dogs.

3. Pet Sitter

Becoming a pet sitter requires a greater commitment than being a dog walker.

It will require that the pet sitter visits with the pet multiple times daily, walking or interacting with them as needed for daily exercise.

They will also need to attend to the food, water, and medication needs.

Other Related Jobs

Work Opportunities in the Animal Trainer Industry

image showing an animal trainer teaching a dolphin tricks in the water

Animal Trainer Job Description

An animal trainer will have a wide range of duties each day.

Their duties and tasks will vary considerably based on where they work, and with what type of animals.

An animal trainer must have excellent communication skills and must use those skills to help pets and their owners better understand each other.

They will often instruct others on the proper care and handling of animals.

Animal trainers will solve problems by coming up with training programs that overcome challenges and will have powerful observational skills.

Top Animal Trainer Jobs and Careers

  • Zookeeper
  • Aquarium Employee
  • Professional Dog Trainer

Where Can an Animal Trainer Work?

After becoming an animal trainer, work can be found in nearly any occupation that involves animals.

The animal trainer can work at pet stores, animal care shelters, aquariums, or rescue and humane operations.

There are even jobs for animal trainers in the entertainment industry, anytime animals are needed on television or movie sets during filming.

What It’s Like to be an Animal Trainer

Is Being an Animal Trainer Hard?

Being an animal trainer requires a significant amount of physical stamina and activity.

There is often a considerable amount of bending, lifting, kneeling, and quick movement.

Is an Animal Trainer Job Stressful?

Just as with any job, there can be an amount of stress involved, particularly in situations where animal trainer isn’t getting the results they need.

An animal trainer often sees their work as highly rewarding, however, so that can offset the stress of the job.

Common Animal Trainer Work Day

The daily tasks of an animal trainer will depend on where they work and what type of animals they work with.

Generally speaking, their day will often start with checking on the welfare of the animals and making sure that they have food and water.

Once they have started their day and ensured that all animals are well, they will begin various handling and training exercises.

Animal Trainer Tasks & Duties

The tasks and duties of an animal trainer will change drastically depending on what type of animal they work with.

The setting where they work will also have an impact on their job.

Those who train animals for pet store customers will encourage and motivate dogs to learn new skills and good manners.

They will also help the dog owners understand how they can continue the training at home.

An animal trainer that works with pinnipeds in an aquarium or zoo setting may work with several other biologists and animal behaviorists during their activities.

An animal trainer in the entertainment industry will largely focus on humane performance training and backstage care.

Animal Trainer Work Hours & Schedule

The hours and schedule of an animal trainer will vary considerably with their chosen animal type and work setting.

Animal Trainer Dress Code

There is no formal dress code for an animal trainer.

Many choose to wear durable khaki pants and short-sleeved shirts.

In situations like zoos or public aquariums, the facility may set its dress code for the animal trainer.

Does This Career Field Embrace Work/Life Balance?

It is possible to have a solid work/life balance while working as an animal trainer.

Animal Trainer Salary & Income

Compared to many other industries, an animal trainer can make very good money.

Their income will depend on the metropolitan market in which they work, however.

How Much Does An Animal Trainer Make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual mean wages of an animal trainer can range from $24,920 to $67,060 depending on where in the country the animal trainer is employed.

Overview of the Animal Trainer Industry

image showing animal trainers teaching a bomb dog how to sniff out explosives

Animal Trainer Field: Career Progression

Someone interested in becoming an animal trainer can often get started by simply volunteering at a local animal shelter several times a week to make sure they are ready to handle animals daily.

Typically an animal trainers can find entry-level positions relatively easily, and by adding college degrees and other advanced training they can move into more specialized fields.

Some specialty fields include marine animal training, advanced dog trainers, or working with exotic animals.

Is Animal Trainer a Good Career?

Becoming an animal trainer is a great career option for those who love working with animals daily, and who possess the needed skills.

Entering the field with a lack of the proper skills can leave the employee frustrated.

Animal Trainer Job Outlook

The outlook for animal trainer jobs looks much better than many other careers.

The field is projected to grow by 28% between now and 2030.

There will be approximately 66,000 animal trainer job openings each year due to existing workers exiting the workforce or transferring to other jobs.

Demand for Animal Trainer

There is a considerable demand for animal trainers in most large urban markets, with much less demand in sparsely populated rural areas.

Animal Trainer Facts

  • Approximately one-quarter of all animal trainer jobs are held by the self-employed.
  • The growth of the animal trainer field is expected to outpace the average for other industries through 2024.
  • The field of dog training will have significant growth, but animal training jobs with other animals, such as horses, marine mammal trainers, and exotic animals will have intense competition.
  • Becoming an animal trainer comes with a considerable risk of scratches, bites, and even kicks from the animals being trained.

Requirements, Skills, and Education Required for Animal Trainers

Being an animal trainer isn’t for everybody, which is why it is very important to understand what is needed and required to be successful in this field.

Who Should Consider an Animal Trainer Career Path?

Someone who should consider an animal trainer career has a passion for working with animals, often one specific type of animal.

They will often enjoy ample amounts of physical activity and will be able to communicate effectively both with the animals and their owners.

Who Should NOT Consider an Animal Trainer Career Path?

Those who have any aversions to animals or physical activity are not well-suited to becoming animal trainers.

Those with severe allergies should not consider being animal trainers unless they control the allergies with medication.

Is it Hard to Become an Animal Trainer?

It is not difficult to become an animal trainer, and in many cases, someone interested in the field can apprentice with those already in the field.

What Do I Need to Become an Animal Trainer?

An animal trainer will generally need at least a high school diploma and the appropriate skill set.

Requirements for Becoming an Animal Trainer

In addition to the soft skills required, the successful animal trainer candidate will have the following:

  • An ability to motivate and inspire others
  • A positive attitude, even in the face of significant challenges
  • Excellent team skills
  • The ability to prioritize and set goals
  • The ability to give and take feedback
  • Organizational and time management skills
  • The ability to meet deadlines

What Skills Does an Animal Trainer Need?

An animal trainer will need good interpersonal skills, skills in instructing and problem-solving and listening.

They will need sufficient physical stamina to keep up with the animals, as well as a good sense of observation or monitoring the condition of the animals.

Generally, they work in teams as well, so team skills and the ability to take direction are also useful.

What Education Does an Animal Trainer Need?

To get started as an animal trainer in most cases the only educational requirement is a diploma or equivalent.

To get into specialty fields, however, higher education may be required.

Can You Become an Animal Trainer Without a Degree?

You can become an animal trainer without a college degree, but you may not be able to enter any specialties or work with exotics without one.

What Experience Does an Animal Trainer Need?

For entry-level positions, there are no requirements for previous experience.

For more advanced training specialties there will be requirements that show your competence and experience.

Animal Trainer Education & Schooling

image showing a woman standing in front of a horse and holding a certificate of animal schooling

Animal Trainer Education & Schooling

Animal trainer education for entry-level positions is frequently limited to on-the-job training.

Once a specialty is chosen, the animal trainer may need to complete college coursework or obtain a degree.

Animal Trainer Education Options and Degree Programs

Those who desire to enter animal trainer specialty programs will often be required to have at least a bachelor’s degree.

Becoming an animal trainer for marine mammal trainers, for example, will require a degree in biology, marine biology, experience with marine animals, and potentially animal science or related courses.

Become an Animal Trainer

At a high level, briefly list and describe the monumental steps needed to become a worker in this career field.

Current Career Job Openings

If you feel that becoming an animal trainer may be the ideal career for you, take a look at some of these job openings and decide if you might be a good candidate.

Wrapping Up

Becoming an animal trainer can have several benefits that animal lovers will enjoy.

You get to work with the type of animals that you love, you’ll be able to get plenty of physical activity, and you will gain priceless experience that can aid you if you want to advance to another animal training specialty.

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