Animal Trainer: Job Duties, Employment Outlook, and Training Requirements
Do you love working with animals? Are you curious about their learning capacities? As an animal trainer, you'll have the opportunity to satisfy your curiosity by working with animals daily. Read on to learn about some of the most commonly trained animals and the routes you can take to become an animal trainer. Schools offering Animal Care degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
What Are My Job Duties as an Animal Trainer?
As an animal trainer, you'll be conditioning animals to interact with humans and respond to commands. Dogs, horse and marine mammals are the most widely trained animals, but you'll need to possess patience and a keen understanding of animal behavior regardless of the species being trained. You'll use positive reinforcement to reward desired behaviors the moment they're performed. The training regimens and natural talents that you nurture for the animals under your tutelage may take months or even years to reach full effect.
Whether you're preparing horses for equestrian competitions, instructing dogs for law enforcement officials or coaching dolphins for aquarium shows, you may be responsible for other aspects of the animal's well-being. For the animals under your care, you may keep records of their diet and behavior, administer their medications, provide them with exercise and monitor their health. During shows and competitions, you can educate the public about your animal's abilities and behaviors.
How Is My Employment Outlook?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in 2008, the animal care and service profession, including animal trainers, would grow by 21% through 2018 (www.bls.gov). Your rather favorable job prospects may be due in part to a high turnover rate for many trainer positions. However, some positions, such as marine mammal trainers, involve high competition for limited job openings. Training positions involving companion animals like dogs should be abundant.
There is a good probability that you'll be self-employed, since the BLS reported 54% of animal trainers were self-employed in 2008. As an animal trainer, you may work in animal shelters, circuses, aquariums, horse farms or zoos. The average annual earnings for your profession were $31,110 in May 2010, according to the BLS.
What Are My Training Requirements?
You will not need to follow a single, fixed path to become an animal trainer, and an important factor is gaining substantial experience with your chosen species under a seasoned trainer. Although a high school diploma is required for most positions, the training route you'll take may also depend on the type of animals that you'd like to train. Many aspiring equine trainers gain experience by working as grooms in stables. Prospective pet trainers can volunteer at animal shelters and attend training workshops.
If you wish to work as a trainer at an aquarium or zoo, then your training requirements may be more stringent. Many of those employers require a bachelor's degree in animal science, marine biology, animal behavior or a related field. As a student in one of these programs, you may take coursework in ecology, mathematics, chemistry, molecular biology, physics and zoology in addition to topics relevant to your specific program of study.
To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below: