Animal Trainer Career Profile
How do I become an animal trainer?
READ: This page helps you to read about the career and the info you need to decide on whether this is indeed the career you want to follow.
RESEARCH: Learn about the skills required and minimum subjects to enter this career, as well as the places where you can study further after school.
PREPARE: If you want to plan and prepare for the career, then join the OZT Community! Members have access to tools, while chatting with other students and experts from around the world. Prepare to be amazed!
UPDATED: 25 April 2023
What is an animal trainer?
Train animals to become accustomed to humans and carry out tasks when commanded to do so. Training is also given to help rectify behavioral issues.
This is a general career Page
This career profile will focus on the overarching and general term for animal trainer. You can follow this general career if you have not decided yet on a kind of animal that you want to work with. The Group within the Community will also deal with the broader term of the career.
If you have decided on a specific animal to work with, here is a more detailed list. Click on the career name to go to it’s profile:
- exotic animal trainers
- horse trainer
- racehorse trainer
- rodeo horse trainer
- show jumping horse trainer
- marine mammal trainer (including dolphins)
- movie animal trainer
- dog obedience trainer
- dog agility course trainer
- K9 police dog trainer
- service dog trainer
- search and rescue dog trainer
- working dog trainer (herding etc)
The Animal Trainer falls within several Career Categories. These are the ones where you will find this career:
- Animal Care
- Law & Enforcement
- Farming & Livestock Management
- Zoos, Aquariums, Museums and Theme Parks
What does an Animal Trainer do?
With which Groups of animals does an Animal Trainer work with?
What is the level of Interaction with the Animals?
With who does an Animal Trainer work?
Besides working with all of the animals, Animal Trainers will need to interact with other people while doing their daily tasks. The people might include fellow staff members or the public.
Fellow staff might include:
- Operational staff, such as Human Resources, Finance and Maintenance
- Veterinary staff
- Habitat Specialists
On what does an Animal Trainer focus?
Animal trainers focus on one of two things, getting an animal to behave properly, or teaching it to do something specific. In some situations they have to do both!
What are the daily tasks of an animal trainer?
- train the animals in the specific tasks required
- monitor the animals to ensure they learn
- ensure the safety of the animals while training
- create habitats that will help with training
- mentally stimulate some species with toys or challenges
- communicate with animal owners
- run business
The working Environment of an Animal Trainer
Where do Animal Trainers work?
Animal trainers mainly work outdoors, and in most cases with domesticated animals.
Places of Employment –
They are employed by kennels, zoos, aquariums, animal shelters, stables, government. They may also decide to start their own businesses.
What is the average salary of an Animal Trainer?
The average yearly salary of an animal trainer is around US$49,000. This will depend on the type of training, as well as differ from country to country.
Can an Animal Trainer be promoted?
Advancement in the field typically depends on work experience. First year practitioners often begin on a part-time basis, fitting their training commitments around other work demands.
The levels of each promotion might differ from organization to organization, but generally are the following:
Intern > Junior Trainer > Senior Trainer > Supervisor
Promotion to senior levels are available in all related careers.
Which difficulties does an Animal Trainer face?
Animal training careers often experience difficulties associated with aggressive or frightened animals that may bite, kick or scratch, causing injuries. You may also be required to work irregular hours including evenings, weekends, and holidays.
What are the future growth and possibilities within the Animal Trainer field?
The prospects of future growth in this industry is good, for specific groups of animal trainers. Dog trainers still see a positive growth, fuel by television and online personalities. Trainers that focus on larger animals, such as horses and marine mammals, have tougher competition to find employment.
Availability of Jobs
Which Skills does an Animal Trainer require?
The skills required for a career as an animal trainer can be divided into two very important groups. The first is the group containing life skills, which are the core skills that are necessary or desirable for full participation in everyday life. The second group is career skills, or the specific skills required to allow a person to enter and operate effectively within a specific career. Some or maybe even all of the life skills can assist in strengthening the career skills, and they might even be the same for specific careers.
- Critical thinking
- Creative thinking
- Decision making
- Problem Solving
- Effective communication
- Interpersonal relationship
- Good animal handling and care techniques
- Basic instructing techniques
- Excellent customer service skills
- Good health and physical fitness
- Basic computer literacy
Which Subjects must I have at School to help me become an Animal Trainer?
Most of the trainer careers will require biology as a school subject to gain admission for future studies.
The subjects you choose at school are important as they lay the foundation for further studies at college or university. While still at school, it’s also important to learn more about the animals you will work with, as well as gain some experience.
OZT has a list of various tertiary institutions where you can study further, after school. Each of these institutions also have their own Group page on OZT where you will find the exact subjects they require of you to have passed in school. Keep these requirements in mind, and discuss it with your school, guidance counselor and parents to ensure that you are prepared!
What will I need to Study after School?
Minimum educational requirement
The minimum requirements for training careers is a High School Certificate, but the best have furthered their studies with a College Diploma, or excellent Short Courses.
A diploma with a focus in animal behaviour, zoology, animal physiology, or a closely related area is preferred.
Short Courses –
Maybe complete courses in subjects such as animal management, animal first aid.
The duration of most diplomas are between 1 and 3 years full time. The duration of short courses differ, but can range from a few days to a few months.
Possible Career Preparation Paths
If this is your dream career that you want to pursue, then it’s important to plan the way forward.
Why is planning important?
To ensure that you understand the requirements for your career, and that you are always prepared for the next step on the road towards your dream. A Preparation Path is like your road map to where you want to be.
Possible Combined Career Paths
It is possible to sometimes combine two or more related careers. This normally happens when you study and practice a specific main career, but the knowledge and experience gained also help you to have a paying hobby or secondary income career.
Stepping Stone Career
Being an animal trainer can also be used as a stepping stone career. A stepping stone career is one which is used to help you get to another career, normally because the other career is too difficult to reach (sometimes due to things like high fees etc).
You can begin as an intern animal trainer after basic short courses and expert guidance (maybe working under a mentor). The money made can then be used to pay for studies towards a promotion or another career, and the experience helps in gaining knowledge. One paying to help get to the other.
Some of the possible paths:
Training and apprenticeship
Even though it is important to study to get into some of the animal caregiver careers, most of the skills you will need will be acquired through on-the-job training. This means that you will learn how to perform some of the daily tasks by actually doing it a few times and learning the steps.
In some cases entry level positions (or junior positions) require training sessions even before you are allowed to actually perform your job duties. These sessions are offered by the place of employment, after you have successfully applied.
Apprenticeship is also possible where you need to learn skills from a more senior person or expert. The more hands on careers, such as animal trainers might require apprenticeship.
Join the Animal Trainers Group to learn more and even interact with the educational institutions that will help you secure your dream career!
Average level of education of those entering the career:
Licenses, Certificate, Registration and Professional Associations
Certain animal care careers require some form of legal certification to prove that you can indeed do the work, and work with the necessary equipment.
Although not required by law, certifications may help workers establish their credentials and enhance their skills.
Learn more about requirements by joining the OZT Community.
Where can I study further?
All of the above information will help you understand more about the Career, including the fact that there are different paths to take to reach it. But if you are almost done with High School (Grades 11 or 12), you also need to start thinking about further studies, and WHERE you will study.
See the List of Universities, Colleges and Online Training Academies who offer courses towards animal care and training.
Do you want to Contribute?
Do you have information that you would like to contribute to this career?
Join the OZT community and our Animal Trainer general Group
Join us as a special member and learn more about becoming an animal trainer. We have Groups for each career, but because there are different kinds of animals or species you can work with in animal training, we have a Group for each career. Check on the list again at the top of this page, if you already know which you want to work with. If you don’t, and just want to talk to other in the meantime about training animals, then please join this general Group.
Members of the Group and Platform have special access to:
- Info on the best places where you can study (colleges, universities and online)
- Expertly designed advice to prepare you for the career, and links to places where you can gain valuable experience. For some career experience is necessary, otherwise you wont get the job!
- Top notch info on each of the different species you will work with
- Make friends around the world and share knowledge
- Compete and win points, badges, games, prizes and certificates. Be the best of the best, while you learn and prepare!
If you have decided on being an Animal Trainer, please click on the JOIN GROUP button. Members will be directed to the Group, while non-members will be assisted to register first.
If this career is NOT the career for you, then you may return to the MAIN CAREER menu.
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