Animal Behaviour Assessor Career Profile

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UPDATED:

29 February 2024

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What is an animal behaviour assessor?

An Animal Behaviour Assessor (ABA) is someone who observes and evaluates animal behaviour, usually within the context of research, zoos, or wildlife conservation organisations.

Dog 1

Alternative Names

An Animal Behaviour Assessor may also be known by a variety of other titles or job descriptions depending on the organisation and specific responsibilities, such as:

  • Animal Behaviour Researcher
  • Ethologist
  • Zoo Behavioural Specialist
  • Conservation Behaviourist
  • Wildlife Ethologist
  • Animal Behavioural Ecologist
  • Comparative Psychologist
  • Wildlife Researcher
  • Animal Psychology Researcher

These titles can vary based on the specific focus of the role, the organization, or the industry, but they all typically involve studying and assessing animal behavior in some capacity.

Differences between an Animal Behaviour Assessor and an Animal Behaviourist

OZT has career profiles for both professions, but there are differences that typically lie in their primary roles, responsibilities, and focus areas:

An animal behaviour assessor primarily observes and assesses animal behaviour, often in specific contexts such as research, zoo environments, or conservation efforts. They are typically involved in collecting data and analysing behaviour to better understand animals and their interactions with their environment.

An animal behaviourist, on the other hand, may have a broader scope. While they also study and understand animal behaviour, their roles may extend to areas like behaviour modification, training, and working directly with animals and their owners to address behavioural issues.

While both roles involve the study and understanding of animal behaviour, animal behaviour assessors often have a research-oriented focus, while animal behaviourists often have a more practical, hands-on approach, working directly with animals and their caretakers to improve behaviour.

A link to the Animal Behaviourist Profile

Career Categories

The Animal Behaviour Assessor career can be found within the following OZT career categories:

  • Health
  • Animal Care

History?

Animal Behaviorism as a movement and career started way back in the 16th Century

Covert Behaviour?

Behaviour that can't be observed, such as dreaming and thinking.

What does an Animal Behaviour Assessor do?

Groups of animals an Animal Behaviour Assessor works with

Cats List Icon
Cats
Dogs List Icon OZT
Dogs
Critters List Icon OZT
Critters
Farm Animals Icon OZT
Farm Animals
Mammals List Icon OZT
Mammals
Birds List Icon OZT
Birds

An animal behaviour assessor typically works with a wide range of animals, depending on their area of expertise and the specific focus of their work. Some common examples include:

Wild Animals:

They may study the behaviour of animals in the wild, such as lions, elephants, wolves, or dolphins, to understand their social structures, hunting behaviours, or responses to environmental changes.

Zoo Animals:

In zoo environments, animal behaviour assessors might focus on understanding captive animal behaviour, looking at how they interact with each other, their enrichment needs, and how to optimise their well-being in captivity.

Domestic Animals:

In some cases, behaviour assessors work with pets and domestic animals like dogs, cats, horses, or birds. Their work might involve training methods, behaviour modification techniques, and addressing specific behavioural issues.

Farm Animals:

Animal behaviour assessors may also work with farm animals, such as cows, pigs, or chickens, focusing on their social dynamics, living conditions, and welfare.

Laboratory Animals:

In research settings, they might work with animals used in scientific experiments, such as mice, rats, or non-human primates, to understand their behaviours and responses to various stimuli.

Conservation Efforts:

In the context of wildlife conservation, they might study endangered species and work to understand behaviours that could help in conservation efforts or mitigate human-animal conflicts.

In summary, animal behaviour assessors can work with a diverse array of animals, from those in the wild to those in captivity, to better understand their behaviour and contribute to their welfare and conservation.

What is the level of Interaction with the Animals?

With whom does an Animal Behaviour Assessor work?

Animal behaviour assessors (ABAs) typically work in collaboration with various individuals and organisations, depending on the scope and focus of their work. Some of the professionals and entities they might collaborate with include:

Research Scientists:

ABAs often collaborate with scientists who have a more specialised focus on areas like genetics, ecology, or animal physiology. Together, they can gain a more comprehensive understanding of animal behaviour in a particular context.

Conservationists:

In wildlife conservation efforts, ABAs collaborate with conservationists to understand and address behavioural aspects of endangered species, human-animal conflicts, or habitat restoration projects.

Zookeepers and Animal Caretakers:

In zoo settings, ABAs work closely with animal caretakers to monitor and assess animal behaviour, develop enrichment programmes, and address behavioural issues.

Veterinarians:

They often collaborate with veterinarians, especially in cases where behavioural issues might be related to health concerns or where behaviour modification might be part of a treatment plan.

Government Agencies:

In some cases, ABAs might work with government agencies involved in wildlife management, such as assessing the impact of certain policies or human activities on wildlife behaviour.

Animal Trainers:

When working with domestic or captive animals, ABAs might collaborate with animal trainers to develop training programmes or to address specific behavioural challenges.

Educators:

Some ABAs also work as educators, teaching others about animal behaviour, welfare, and conservation. This might involve developing educational programmes, giving lectures, or conducting workshops.

Community Members:

In cases of human-animal conflict or conservation efforts, ABAs might collaborate with local communities to gather information about animal behaviour and find solutions that work for both humans and animals.

In summary, animal behaviour assessors often work collaboratively with a diverse range of professionals and organisations to study and understand animal behaviour and contribute to animal welfare, conservation, and human-animal interactions.

What does an Animal Behaviour Assessor focus on?

The primary outcome for an Animal Behavior Assessor is typically the collection and analysis of data to understand and document animal behavior in specific contexts.

What are the different specialisations or career directions that an Animal Behaviour Assessor can venture into?

An animal behaviour assessor can venture into various specialisations or career directions within the field of animal behaviour and welfare. Here are some of the different paths they can take:

Pet Behaviour Consultant:

Specialising in working with pet owners to address behavioural issues in companion animals such as dogs, cats, birds, and small mammals. This may involve conducting behaviour assessments, providing training programmes, and offering advice on managing common behaviour problems.

Livestock Behaviour Specialist:

Focusing on understanding and improving the behaviour and welfare of farm animals like cows, pigs, sheep, goats, and horses. This specialisation involves working with farmers and ranchers to implement animal handling practices, stress reduction techniques, and environmental enrichment strategies.

Zoo or Wildlife Behaviourist:

Working with exotic and wild animals in captivity, such as those found in zoos, aquariums, wildlife sanctuaries, and conservation programmes. Zoo or wildlife behaviourists focus on promoting natural behaviours, designing enrichment programmes, and conducting behavioural research to enhance the well-being of captive animals.

Animal Training and Enrichment Specialist:

Specialising in animal training techniques and developing enrichment programmes for a variety of species. This may include training animals for specific tasks (e.g., service dogs, therapy animals) or designing environmental enrichment to stimulate natural behaviours and cognitive abilities.

Research Scientist:

Pursuing a career in animal behaviour research, conducting studies to deepen our understanding of animal behaviour, cognition, communication, and welfare. Research scientists may work in universities, research institutions, or private organisations, contributing to scientific knowledge and advancing best practices in animal care.

Conservation Behaviourist:

Focusing on behavior-related aspects of wildlife conservation and management. Conservation behaviourists work on projects aimed at preserving endangered species, mitigating human-wildlife conflicts, promoting habitat restoration, and implementing conservation strategies based on behavioural science principles.

Animal Welfare Advocate:

Working with animal welfare organisations, advocacy groups, government agencies, or non-profit organisations to promote ethical treatment, humane care, and responsible stewardship of animals. Animal welfare advocates may engage in policy development, public education campaigns, and community outreach initiatives.

These are just a few examples of the diverse career directions that an animal behaviour assessor can explore based on their interests, skills, and professional goals within the broader field of animal behaviour and welfare.

What are the daily tasks of an Animal Behaviour Assessor?

The daily tasks of an animal behaviour assessor (ABA) can vary depending on their specific role and the context in which they work. However, here are some common tasks that an ABA might perform:

Observation:

A significant part of the job involves observing animal behaviour. This might involve watching animals directly, reviewing recorded footage, or monitoring animals remotely using technology like camera traps.

Data Collection:

ABAs often collect data on animal behaviour. This could include things like the amount of time animals spend engaged in certain behaviours, their interactions with other animals or their environment, and any vocalisations or other communication methods they use.

Data Analysis:

After collecting data, ABAs will typically analyse it to look for patterns, trends, or significant deviations. This could involve using statistical software or other analytical tools.

Report Writing:

ABAs often write reports detailing their findings. These reports might be for internal use within their organisation, for publication in scientific journals, or for sharing with stakeholders or the public.

Collaboration:

ABAs often work collaboratively with other researchers, conservationists, animal care professionals, and other stakeholders. This could involve discussing research goals, sharing data, or coordinating efforts for specific projects.

Experimental Design:

In some cases, ABAs may design and conduct experiments to better understand specific aspects of animal behaviour. This could involve setting up controlled environments, manipulating variables, and measuring the animals’ responses.

Ethical Considerations:

ABAs must be mindful of ethical considerations when working with animals. This could involve ensuring that their research methods do not cause unnecessary stress or harm to the animals, or obtaining proper permissions and approvals before conducting research.

Training and Outreach:

Some ABAs are involved in education and outreach activities. This could include giving presentations, leading workshops, or developing educational materials to help others learn about animal behaviour and conservation.

Continued Education:

Animal behaviour is a field that is constantly evolving, so ABAs often spend time staying up-to-date on the latest research and developments in the field through reading scientific journals, attending conferences, and engaging with other professionals in the field.

Fieldwork:

Depending on the specific focus of their work, ABAs might spend time in the field conducting research or monitoring animals in their natural habitat.

It’s important to note that the specific tasks of an ABA can vary widely depending on their area of expertise, the animals they work with, and the goals of their organisation or research project.

With what kind of tools and technology (if any) does an Animal Behaviour Assessor work with?

Animal Behaviour Assessors (ABAs) work with various tools and technologies, depending on their specific focus, research methodologies, and the environments in which they observe animal behaviour. Here are some common tools and technologies that ABAs might use:

Video Cameras:

ABAs often use video cameras to record animal behaviour, both in the field and in controlled environments. This allows for detailed analysis of behaviour and interactions.

Camera Traps:

In the wild, ABAs may use camera traps to capture images or video of animals in their natural habitat without disturbing them. These devices are often set up in strategic locations and triggered by motion or heat sensors.

GPS Tracking Devices:

When studying animal movement, ABAs may use GPS tracking devices to monitor animals’ locations in real-time. This can provide valuable information about habitat use, migration patterns, and territorial behaviour.

Radio Collars:

In some cases, ABAs may use radio collars or tags to track individual animals over time. This can be particularly useful for studying animals that are difficult to observe directly, such as nocturnal or elusive species.

Bioacoustic Recorders:

ABAs may use bioacoustic recorders to capture animal sounds, such as vocalisations or communication signals. These devices can help researchers understand animal communication and social behaviours.

Data Loggers:

Data loggers are used to record environmental parameters such as temperature, humidity, and light levels. These devices can provide valuable context for understanding animal behaviour and responses to environmental changes.

Statistical Software:

ABAs often use statistical software packages to analyse data and identify patterns or trends in animal behaviour. This can involve complex statistical analyses to test hypotheses and draw conclusions from the data.

Animal Enrichment Devices:

In captive environments, ABAs may use enrichment devices to stimulate animals mentally and physically. These can include puzzles, toys, or other objects that encourage natural behaviours.

Virtual Reality (VR):

In some research settings, ABAs may use VR technology to simulate environments or social interactions for animals. This can help researchers study animal behaviour in controlled conditions.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS):

ABAs working with spatial data may use GIS software to analyse and visualise patterns of animal movement, habitat use, or distribution.

It’s important to note that the specific tools and technologies used by ABAs can vary widely depending on the goals of their research or conservation efforts, the animals they study, and the resources available to them.

Working conditions of an Animal Behaviour Assessor

Where does an Animal Behaviour Assessor work?

Animal Behaviour Assessors (ABAs) can work in a variety of indoor and outdoor environments, depending on the focus of their research, the animals they study, and the goals of their organisation. Here are some common indoor and outdoor work environments for ABAs:

Indoor Environments:

Laboratories:

Many ABAs work in laboratory settings, especially when conducting controlled experiments or studying animals in captivity. Laboratories provide controlled conditions for observation, data collection, and experimentation.

Zoos and Wildlife Parks:

In zoos and wildlife parks, ABAs may work in offices, research centres, or dedicated animal care facilities. They might conduct research, develop enrichment programmes, or collaborate with zookeepers and animal caretakers.

Offices:

Some ABAs work primarily in office settings, particularly if they’re involved in data analysis, report writing, or administrative tasks related to their research.

Educational Institutions:

ABAs might work in universities or research institutions where they conduct research, teach courses, and supervise graduate students.

Conferences and Workshops:

ABAs often attend conferences, workshops, and training sessions to present their research, learn about the latest developments in the field, and network with other professionals.

Outdoor Environments:

Field Sites:

Many ABAs conduct field research in natural habitats, such as forests, grasslands, or marine environments. This could involve spending extended periods in the field observing animals, setting up cameras or traps, or collecting data.

Wildlife Reserves:

In some cases, ABAs work in wildlife reserves or protected areas, where they study animals in their natural habitat. This can involve hiking, camping, or boating to reach study sites.

Research Stations:

ABAs may work at research stations located in remote or ecologically significant areas. These stations provide facilities for researchers to conduct fieldwork and house teams working on long-term research projects.

Conservation Areas:

Some ABAs work in conservation areas, where they collaborate with conservationists to study animal behaviour, human-animal interactions, and the impact of conservation efforts.

Animal Sanctuaries:

ABAs might work in animal sanctuaries or rehabilitation centres, where they study and assess the behaviour of animals that have been rescued, rehabilitated, or are being prepared for release back into the wild.

In summary, ABAs can work in a wide range of indoor and outdoor environments, depending on their research focus, the animals they study, and the goals of their organisation. The working environment can vary from controlled laboratory conditions to rugged field sites, with opportunities for collaboration, education, and fieldwork.

What is the average annual salary of an Animal Behaviour Assessor?

Approximate salary ranges for Animal Behaviour Assessors (ABAs) in specific countries and regions:

USA: The average annual salary for ABAs in the USA can range from $42,000 to $89,000 USD.

Canada: In Canada, the average annual salary for ABAs ranges from $46,000 to $79,000 CAD.

UK: In the UK, ABAs can expect an average annual salary ranging from £21,000 to £45,000 GBP.

India: In India, the average annual salary for ABAs can range from ₹254,000 to ₹591,000 INR.

Australia: In Australia, the average annual salary for ABAs is between $61,000 and $97,000 AUD.

New Zealand: In New Zealand, ABAs can expect an average annual salary ranging from $55,000 to $75,000 NZD.

Nigeria: In Nigeria, the average annual salary for ABAs can range from ₦1,080,000 to ₦2,400,000 NGN.

Kenya: In Kenya, ABAs can expect an average annual salary ranging from Ksh 585,000 to Ksh 1,320,000 KES.

South Africa: In South Africa, the average annual salary for ABAs ranges from R262,000 to R641,000 ZAR.

Regions:

South America: In South America, the average annual salary for ABAs varies widely by country and region. In general, it can range from $15,000 to $60,000 USD.

Europe: In Europe, the average annual salary for ABAs varies significantly by country. In Western European countries, it can range from €30,000 to €60,000 EUR, while in Eastern European countries, it may be lower, ranging from €15,000 to €35,000 EUR.

Southeast Asia: In Southeast Asia, the average annual salary for ABAs varies by country. In general, it can range from $10,000 to $50,000 USD.

Can an Animal Behaviour Assessor be promoted?

Promotion levels for an Animal Behaviour Assessor can vary depending on the organization, industry, and individual career path. However, here are three or four prominent promotion levels based on the headings of Education, Responsibilities, and Certification:

Animal Behaviour Assessor

Education:

Bachelor’s degree in animal behaviour, biology, psychology, zoology, or a related field.

Responsibilities:

Conducting behavioural assessments, developing behaviour modification plans, providing training and enrichment, and collaborating with veterinarians and caregivers.

Certification:

Optional certifications such as Certified Applied Animal Behaviourist (CAAB) or Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT).

Senior Animal Behaviour Assessor

Education:

Master’s degree or higher in animal behaviour, ethology, applied behaviour analysis, or a related discipline.

Responsibilities:

Leading behavioural assessment teams, designing and implementing complex behaviour modification plans, conducting research projects, and mentoring junior staff members.

Certification:

Advanced certifications such as Certified Applied Animal Behaviourist (CAAB) or Board Certified Behaviour Analyst (BCBA) for those working with applied behaviour analysis.

Behavioural Consultant or Specialist

Education:

Doctorate (Ph.D.) in animal behaviour, behavioural sciences, or a related field.

Responsibilities:

Providing expert consultations to organisations, developing and implementing behaviour management programmes on a larger scale, contributing to industry research and publications, training, and supervising junior staff.

Certification:

Advanced certifications and licences specific to the area of specialisation (e.g., Certified Veterinary Behaviourist for those working with veterinary behaviour cases).

Director of Animal Behaviour Programs or Research

Education:

Doctorate (Ph.D.) with extensive research and academic experience in animal behaviour and welfare.

Responsibilities:

Overseeing entire behavior programs or research initiatives, developing policies and protocols, securing funding and grants for research projects, publishing research findings, presenting at conferences, and collaborating with national and international organizations.

Certification:

Depending on the specific role, advanced certifications or licences may still apply, especially if involved in clinical practice or consulting.

What kind of difficulties can an Animal Behaviour Assessor face?

Animal Behaviour Assessors (ABAs) can encounter several challenges in their profession, including:

Physical Demands:

Working with animals can involve physical tasks such as lifting heavy equipment, moving through challenging terrain in fieldwork settings, or being exposed to extreme weather conditions.

Safety Concerns:

ABAs must be mindful of their own safety as well as the safety of the animals they work with. This can include avoiding potentially dangerous situations or handling animals in a way that minimises the risk of injury.

Variability in Working Conditions:

ABAs can work in a wide range of environments, from laboratories to remote field sites. This can mean adapting to different climates, terrain, and living conditions.

Emotional Challenges:

Witnessing animals in distress, observing natural behaviours like predation, or dealing with the loss of animals can be emotionally challenging for ABAs.

Business Management:

If ABAs work as consultants or in private practice, they may need to manage their own business operations, including client relations, marketing, and finances.

Regulatory Compliance:

ABAs must adhere to ethical standards and regulations related to animal welfare and research. This can involve obtaining necessary permits, following research protocols, and ensuring that work complies with local laws and regulations.

Continuing Education:

The field of animal behaviour is continually evolving, so ABAs must stay up-to-date with the latest research, methods, and technologies through continuing education, conferences, and professional development opportunities.

Unpredictable Work Hours:

Depending on the nature of their work, ABAs may have irregular or unpredictable work hours, especially when conducting field research or working with animals with specific behavioural schedules.

Interpersonal Challenges:

In some cases, ABAs may encounter challenges related to working with other professionals, such as conflicting priorities, communication issues, or differences in working styles.

Funding and Resources:

Securing funding for research projects, accessing necessary equipment and resources, or obtaining permission to work with animals can be challenging.

Public Perception and Advocacy:

ABAs may face challenges related to public perception of their work, particularly if their research involves controversial topics or if they work with animals in captivity. They may also encounter challenges related to advocating for animal welfare and conservation.

Career Advancement:

Advancing in the field can be competitive, and ABAs may need to demonstrate a strong track record of research, publications, and leadership to secure tenure-track positions or other advanced roles.

Overall, while a career in animal behaviour can be rewarding, it can also present various challenges that require adaptability, resilience, and a commitment to the welfare of animals.

​Future growth and Possibilities:

The job market for Animal Behavior Assessors (ABAs) is expected to show moderate growth in the coming years, driven by various factors:

Increased Focus on Animal Welfare and Conservation:

Growing public awareness and concern for animal welfare and conservation can create more demand for professionals who understand animal behaviour and can contribute to conservation efforts.

Advances in Technology:

Technological advancements, such as wearable sensors, bioacoustic monitoring devices, and advanced data analysis techniques, can create new opportunities for studying and understanding animal behaviour.

Expanding Role in Conservation and Research:

The need for understanding and mitigating the impact of climate change and human activities on wildlife habitats can increase the demand for professionals who can study and address the behaviour of endangered species.

Expansion of Zoo and Wildlife Parks:

As zoos and wildlife parks continue to evolve their mission towards conservation and education, there may be increased demand for professionals who can assess and address the behaviour of animals in captivity.

Increased Recognition of Animal Behaviour Science:

The growing recognition of animal behaviour as a scientific field of study can lead to increased funding, research opportunities, and employment prospects for ABAs.

Changing Demands in Agriculture and Farming:

As the agriculture and farming industries evolve towards more sustainable and ethical practices, there may be increased demand for ABAs to assess and improve the welfare of farm animals.

Rising Interest in Companion Animal Behaviour:

With an increasing number of people owning pets and seeking professional assistance for behavioural issues, there could be a growing demand for ABAs specialising in companion animal behaviour.

Career Opportunities in Education and Outreach:

ABAs with a strong background in education and outreach may find opportunities in academia, public outreach, and environmental education programmes.

While the job market for ABAs is expected to show moderate growth overall, the specific growth rate can vary by region, industry, and organisation. Additionally, the job market for ABAs can be competitive, and individuals interested in pursuing a career in animal behaviour should be prepared to gain relevant experience, obtain advanced education, and demonstrate a strong commitment to animal welfare and conservation.

Availability of Jobs

Average

Which Skills are required by an Animal Behaviour Assessor?

The skills required for a career as an animal behaviour assessor can be divided into two very important groups. The first is the group containing life skills and personality traits, 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.

Life Skills and Personality Traits

People employed as animal behaviour assessors (ABAs) often possess a range of personality traits that enable them to excel in their roles, including:

Curiosity:

ABAs are naturally curious and have a deep interest in understanding animal behaviour and the natural world. They are motivated by a desire to learn about and explore the intricacies of animal behaviour.

Patience:

Studying animal behaviour can involve long periods of observation and data collection. ABAs must have the patience to wait for behavioural patterns to emerge and be able to endure setbacks or challenges in their research.

Empathy:

A strong sense of empathy is essential for ABAs who work with animals, as it enables them to understand and interpret the emotions and needs of animals. This can be particularly important in the context of animal welfare and conservation efforts.

Analytical Thinking:

ABAs are analytical thinkers who can analyse complex data and identify patterns and trends in animal behaviour. They are skilled at interpreting research findings and drawing meaningful conclusions.

Attention to Detail:

ABAs must have a keen eye for detail, as they often observe subtle behaviours and changes in animals. This attention to detail helps them to accurately document and interpret animal behaviour.

Adaptability:

ABAs often work in dynamic and unpredictable environments, such as field research settings or with captive animals. They must be adaptable and able to adjust their research methods and strategies as needed.

Communication Skills:

ABAs need strong communication skills to effectively share their research findings with colleagues, stakeholders, and the public. This includes writing clear and concise reports, presenting research findings, and collaborating with others in the field.

Ethical Integrity:

ABAs must have a strong sense of ethical integrity, particularly when working with animals in research or conservation settings. They must adhere to ethical guidelines and prioritise the welfare of animals in their work.

Critical Thinking:

ABAs are critical thinkers who can evaluate existing research, design experiments, and assess the validity of research findings. They are skilled at asking probing questions and challenging assumptions.

Problem-Solving Skills:

ABAs are skilled problem solvers who can identify challenges in their research and develop creative solutions. They are persistent in overcoming obstacles and finding innovative ways to address research questions.

These are just some of the personality traits that are common among ABAs. Each individual may possess a unique combination of these traits, which enables them to succeed in their role as an animal behaviour assessor.

Life Skills
35%

Career Skills

  • Good business knowledge
  • Good animal care skills
  • Basic customer service skills
  • Good health and physical fitness
  • Excellent computer literacy
Career Skills
65%

Which Subjects must I have at School to help prepare for this career?

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 to become an Animal Behaviour Assessor?

To become an Animal Behavior Assessor (ABA), you will generally need to complete a combination of formal education, practical experience, and optional additional training. Here’s a breakdown of what you might need:

Minimum educational requirements

A bachelor’s degree is generally the minimum educational requirement for entry-level positions as an ABA. Degrees in biology, zoology, ecology, psychology, or related fields are typically preferred.

Study Focus

Subjects if Further Study is Required:

If you have completed a bachelor’s degree in a related field but want to further specialise in animal behaviour, you may consider pursuing a master’s or doctoral degree in animal behaviour, ethology, wildlife biology, or a related field.
For example, a master’s degree in animal behaviour can provide you with advanced training in the principles and methods of animal behaviour research, including behavioural ecology, learning, and cognition. A doctoral degree (Ph.D.) can allow you to conduct original research, publish papers, and teach at the university level.

Advanced Studies (if necessary):

If you’re interested in a specific area within animal behaviour, you might pursue advanced studies in that area. For example:

  • If you’re interested in companion animal behaviour, you might pursue advanced studies in animal training and behaviour modification techniques.
  • If you’re interested in conservation biology, you might pursue advanced studies in wildlife management and conservation biology.
  • If you’re interested in research, you might pursue advanced studies in research design, statistical analysis, and data interpretation.

Advanced studies can help you develop specialised knowledge and skills that can enhance your career prospects in the field of animal behaviour.

Optional Short Courses:

Depending on your career goals, you might consider taking short courses or workshops in specific areas related to animal behaviour. For example:

  • A course in animal welfare science can provide you with an understanding of the principles and practices of animal welfare assessment.
  • A course in wildlife rehabilitation can provide you with knowledge of animal behaviour in the context of wildlife rescue and rehabilitation.
  • A course in animal training can provide you with skills in behaviour modification and training techniques.

Short courses can be useful for gaining practical skills and knowledge that can complement your formal education.

Study Duration

The duration of College Diplomas and University Degrees can range between 3 to 4 years. Short Courses are usually between a few weeks and a year.

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 a road map to where you want to be.

Possible Paths:

Here is a possible career preparation path for a high school student who wants to pursue a career as an Animal Behaviour Assessor (ABA), based on the provided points:

1. Attend Career Guidance Sessions:

Attend career guidance sessions to learn about various career options related to animal behaviour and identify potential paths within the field.

2. Research all of the Possible Careers:

Conduct research to learn about different careers in animal behaviour, including Animal behaviour Assessor, Animal Trainer, Zoologist, Wildlife Biologist, and Conservation Scientist.

3. Explore Educational Paths:

Explore educational paths, including undergraduate programmes in biology, zoology, ecology, psychology, or animal behaviour.

4. Align High School Subjects with the Educational Path:

Choose high school subjects that align with the chosen educational path, such as biology, mathematics, and psychology.

5. Obtain a High School Diploma or Equivalent:

Complete high school and obtain a diploma or equivalent qualification.

6. Learn about Animals that will Work with:

Learn about the animals you will work with, including their behaviour, biology, and natural history.

7. Align Post-School Path with either Entering a Career/Job Directly, Studying Further, or Starting a Business:

Decide on the post-school path, whether it’s entering the job market directly, pursuing further education, or starting a business in animal behaviour.

8. Gain Experience through Volunteering, Internship, Mentorship, etc:

Gain experience through volunteering, internships, or mentorships in animal-related fields to gain practical experience and exposure to the industry.

9. Pursue Extracurricular Activities:

Participate in extracurricular activities related to animals and the natural world, such as animal clubs, nature conservation organisations, or wildlife rehabilitation centres.

10. Join Professional Associations:

Join professional associations related to animal behaviour, such as the Animal Behavior Society or the International Society for Applied Ethology, to network with professionals and stay updated on industry trends.

11. Gain Specialised Skills:

Gain specialised skills in animal behaviour, such as behavioural observation, data collection, research methods, and communication.

12. Network with Professionals:

Network with professionals in the field of animal behaviour through conferences, workshops, and industry events.

13. Enter the Job Market, Finish Tertiary Studies, or Launch a Business:

Depending on the chosen path, enter the job market, complete tertiary studies, or launch a business in animal behaviour.

14. Stay Updated and Pursue Continuing Education:

Stay updated on industry trends and pursue continuing education to enhance knowledge and skills in animal behaviour.

By following these steps, a high school student can prepare for a career as an animal behaviour assessor and lay the foundation for a successful career in the field of animal behaviour.

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.

Possible Alternatives (there are a lot more):

Stepping Stone Career

A stepping-stone career refers to a job or position that serves as a transitional or intermediate step towards a long-term career goal. Individuals may take on a stepping-stone job as it requires minimum education or finances to enter, or to gain relevant experience and develop skills, or to make professional connections that will ultimately help them progress towards their desired career path.

These interim positions may not be the ultimate or dream job, but they provide valuable learning opportunities and contribute to the individual’s overall career development. Stepping-stone careers are often seen as a strategic approach to building a successful and fulfilling professional trajectory, allowing individuals to gradually move closer to their desired roles or industries.

An Animal Behaviour Assessor (ABA) career can be a stepping-stone to various related and complementary careers in the fields of animal behaviour, animal science, and conservation. Here are some potential career paths:

Training and apprenticeship

On-the-job training and apprenticeship requirements can vary depending on the specific role and industry within the field of Animal Behaviour Assessors (ABAs). However, here are some general steps that a person entering an ABA career might take to gain on-the-job training and apprenticeship:

Internships and Volunteering:

Internships and volunteer opportunities can provide hands-on experience and exposure to the field of animal behaviour. Internships may be available through zoos, wildlife parks, research institutes, or conservation organisations.

Entry-Level Positions:

Entry-level positions in animal-related fields, such as animal caretaker, animal trainer, or research assistant, can provide valuable on-the-job training and experience. These positions often involve working with animals and assisting with research projects.

Mentorship Programmes:

Some organisations or institutions offer mentorship programmes for individuals interested in animal behaviour careers. These programmes may pair a novice with an experienced professional in the field, allowing for guided learning and on-the-job training.

Advanced Education and Training:

Pursuing advanced education, such as a master’s or doctoral degree in animal behaviour or a related field, can provide specialised training and research opportunities. Many programmes include hands-on research experience and mentorship from faculty members.

Certifications and Professional Development:

Depending on the specific area of animal behaviour, there may be certifications or professional development programmes available. For example, certification programmes for animal trainers or applied animal behaviourists often include practical training components.

On-the-Job Learning:

Many ABAs learn through on-the-job experiences, such as conducting research, working with animals, and collaborating with colleagues. Continuous learning and adaptation to new challenges and research findings are inherent aspects of the field.

Continuing Education:

Continuing education is essential in animal behaviour, as the field is continually evolving. ABAs often attend conferences, workshops, and training sessions to stay up-to-date on the latest research, techniques, and technologies.

Average level of educational qualification people had when entering the Career:

High School Certificate 0%
Diploma or Short Courses 0%
Degree or Higher Studies 0%

Licenses, Certificate, Registration and Professional Associations

In some cases, certain licensure, certification, or registration may be required or preferred for individuals who want to become Animal Behaviour Assessors (ABAs). The specific requirements can vary depending on the country, state, or region, the type of organisation or institution they work for, and the specific role within the field of animal behaviour. Here are some potential requirements:

Certified Applied Animal Behaviourist (CAAB):

The Animal Behaviour Society (ABS) offers certification for Applied Animal Behaviourists who have a graduate degree and experience in the field of animal behaviour. This certification is not mandatory, but it can enhance credibility and expertise.

Animal Behaviourist Certification:

Some countries or regions may have specific certification programmes or organisations for animal behaviourists. For example, in the UK, the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB) offers certification for animal behaviourists.

State or Country-Specific Licences:

In some regions, ABAs may be required to obtain a licence or permit to practice, especially if they are working in a clinical setting or providing behavioural services to clients. These requirements can vary widely and may involve obtaining a licence from a specific regulatory body.

Ethical Considerations and Compliance:

ABAs must adhere to ethical standards and guidelines for animal research and welfare. This can involve obtaining approval from an institutional animal care and use committee (IACUC) or equivalent organisation, especially for research involving live animals.

Educational and Experience Requirements:

Many organisations or employers may require specific educational qualifications (such as a bachelor’s or master’s degree in animal behaviour or a related field) and relevant experience in the field of animal behaviour or a related area.

Continuing Education:

ABAs are expected to stay up-to-date on the latest research and developments in the field. Continuing education through workshops, conferences, and professional development courses can be beneficial and may be required by some employers or organisations.

Insurance and Liability:

ABAs working in clinical or private practice settings may need to obtain professional liability insurance or malpractice insurance.

Specific Industry or Organisation Requirements:

Depending on the specific industry or organisation, there may be additional requirements or certifications needed. For example, ABAs working in zoos, aquariums, or animal shelters may need to complete specific training programmes or meet certain standards set by those organisations.

It’s important to note that the specific requirements can vary widely based on the region, organisation, and role within the field of animal behaviour. Individuals interested in becoming ABAs should research the specific requirements in their area and explore opportunities to gain the necessary qualifications and experience.

Professional Associations

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 behaviour.

How do I start to prepare for this Career?

If you do decide on following this career, then OZT can assist you in gaining knowledge about the career and the animals you will be working with. We do this by offering you thousands of FREE short courses.

A. You can access the specialised study guide that fits in with the above preparation path

B.  If you are still uncertain about choosing this career, then have a look at our special series of WHAT NEXT courses. They take you through all of the questions you might have on how to choose the right career, what to do while and after school, and even how to start your own business.

C.  Or, join OZT as a member to access easy-to-use lists of courses to make your career preparation as smooth as possible! And yes, membership is always free.

Join the OZT online community for special access to more tools!

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Members of the Platform have special access to:

  • Info on the best places where you can study (colleges, universities and online)
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  • Top notch info on each of the different species you will work with
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If you have decided on being an Animal Behaviour Assessor, please click on the JOIN GROUP button. Members will be directed to the Group, while non-members will be assisted to register first.

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Some of the best websites to help you decide on the Career:

  1. Karen Pryor Academy

    • Website: Karen Pryor Academy
    • Description: Karen Pryor Academy offers professional training and certification programs for individuals interested in animal training, behavior modification, and behaviour assessments. Their courses focus on positive reinforcement techniques and science-based approaches to animal behaviour.
  2. The Animal Behavior Society (ABS)

    • Website: The Animal Behavior Society
    • Description: The Animal Behaviour Society is a professional organisation dedicated to the scientific study of animal behaviour. While not a private website, ABS provides valuable resources, research articles, and information related to animal behaviour assessments conducted by scientists and researchers in the field.
  3. Fear Free Pets

    • Website: Fear Free Pets
    • Description: Fear Free Pets is a comprehensive resource for pet owners, veterinarians, and animal professionals focusing on reducing fear, anxiety, and stress in pets. They provide education, training programmes, and resources related to behaviour assessments, training techniques, and improving the well-being of companion animals.

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