Career Advice on How to Become An Animal Trainer

General Career Information

If you are a mother, you may already think that you are an animal trainer. Much of the time you are right, sort of anyway.  Not shockingly, animal trainers do pretty much what you would think that animal trainers would do in that they train animals.  Often this means that animal trainers teach animals to do tricks, and this is what many people think of when they hear the term.

But let’s face it; there are only so many Vegas type acts out there.  Many animal trainers have a more mundane daily experience as they help train animals to behave, well, less like animals and more like animals that have been socialized to conform to society’s norms and expectations.  Why it does sound a lot like parenting after all doesn’t it?


Career Facts:

Animal trainers train animals for a wide variety of reasons including obedience. But they also train for many additional reasons that many people are prone to overlook.  Animal trainers also work to train dogs for security or for helping those with disabilities.  Other trainers work with horses so that they can be rode without kicking in the skull of the people that are trying to climb on top of them.  You might not think much about animal trainers, but once you’ve been bitten by a dog or kicked by a horse, you might more clearly see the need for their services.  If you survive, that is.

Just like a frat boy who is trying to join a frat, trainers work with animals through conditioning, so that they behave as they have been instructed.  An experienced and capable animal trainer can do wonders with all sorts of animals.  However, don’t hold your breath on an animal trainer making much progress with your guppy goldfish named Skipper. There are always limits of course.


Career Opportunities and Job Outlook- Very Good:

It might come, as a bit of a surprise, but the job outlook for animal trainers is very good.  In 2006, there were about 43,000 animal trainers yelling “no Spot, not there, over here!” across the nation.  By 2016, that number is expected to climb by twenty-three percent.  This will translate into roughly 9,800 new animal trainers explaining to animal caregivers that they are animal trainers and not dog walkers.
Job Outlook is Good

A Day in The Life:

Excluding mothers, a large percentage of animal trainers work with dogs training them to scare the stuffing out of people who innocently walk by fenced off areas or training dogs to help people with disabilities.  Yet there are a variety of other animal training options available as well, such as working at the local fish prison (AKA aquarium).  Trainers who work at aquariums can train imprisoned dolphins to jump through hoops on command and killer whales to take fish out of the mouths of suicidal tourist.  Yes, indeed it is great fun.

Average Salary:

While earnings can vary, the average animal trainer earns about $12.60 an hour, with the top ten percent earning about $22 per hour.  Considering that one could be mauled to death or potentially eaten by a killer whale, the pay seems a little on the low side.  $22 per hour to work “training” an alligator for example, does seem a little on the low side.  Doesn’t it?

Career Training and Qualifications:

Usually animal trainers are expected to have a high-school diploma.  Some jobs require a bachelor’s degree, such as those working with marine animals. These folks are expected to have a bachelor’s degree in biology, marine biology or a related field.

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