Animal Trainer Job Description

Career Information

Man with Dog
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Job Description

Animals have minds of their own. They behave however they want to ... that is until they meet up with animal trainers. An animal trainer, using a variety of techniques, teaches dogs, horses or even marine animals to behave in a certain way. He or she gets animals accustomed to human contact and teaches them to respond to commands. An animal trainer may work with show animals, service animals or family pets.

Employment Facts

Almost 42,000 people worked as animal trainers in 2012. Some were self employed. One of the greatest risks associated with this occupation comes from working with aggressive or frightened animals who may bite, kick or scratch causing injuries.

Educational Requirements

In most cases animal trainers need a high school diploma or general equivalency diploma (GED). Sometimes a bachelor's degree is required. For example a marine mammal trainer needs a bachelor's degree in biology, marine biology, animal science or a related field.

According to the The Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) , a professional organization, most individuals who work as dog trainers are self educated. They go on to say that certification is available from many training courses that are "happy to charge you a fee" for a certificate. The organization advises those who want to attend a training school to "do your homework." They provide a short list of what to look for in a program (So You Want to Be a Dog Trainer).

Why Do You Need to Know About Educational Requirements?

Other Requirements

While certification isn't required, it can help demonstrate that one's qualifications are superior to those of someone without it. Not all certifications are equal though. ADPT has a list of recommended certifications on their website.

Although the organization focuses on dog trainers, the certifications are for other types of animal trainers as well.

While animal trainers work directly with animals, they have a significant amount of contact with people too. Dealing with both requires compassion and patience. Teaching animals requires good problem solving skills. Trainers must have good physical stamina that allows them to bend, lift and kneel.

Job Outlook

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts this occupation, overall, will grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2022. However demand for marine mammal and horse trainers is expected to grow slowly.

Why Do You Need to Know About Job Outlook?


Animal trainers earned a median annual salary of $25,770 and median hourly wages of $12.39 in 2014.

Use the Salary Calculator at to find out how much animal trainers currently earn in your city.

A Day in an Animal Trainer's Life

These are some typical job duties taken from online ads for animal trainer positions found on As you can see, the duties vary significantly depending on the type of animal one works with.

  • Doggy Daycare Center: Keep dogs safe and help them learn manners
  • Pet Supply Chain Store: Coach, encourage and motivate dogs and pet parents
  • Aquarium: Provide daily husbandry for tigers and the avian collection
  • Animal Shelter: Educate our volunteers, adopters, and community on dog behavior and training
  • Humane Society: Work with other staff on post-adoption challenges with training class students
  • Animal Entertainment Production Company: Assist with animal care and back stage responsibilities

Occupations With Related Activities and Tasks

 DescriptionAnnual Salary (2014)Educational Requirements
GroomerMaintains the appearances of animals$20,340On-the-job training or attendance at state-licensed training programs
Fitness TrainerTeaches and motivates people in fitness activities$34,980Minimum of a high school diploma but many employers require an associate or bachelor's degree
Recreation WorkerDesign and lead groups in leisure activities$22,620Bachelor's degree
FarmworkerCare for live animals by tending to tasks such as feeding, watering and examining them$22,930On-the-job training


Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Animal Care and Service Workers, on the Internet at (visited June 18, 2015).
Employment and Training Administration, US Department of Labor, O*NET Online, Animal Trainer, on the Internet at (visited June 18, 2015).

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