Animal Caretaker Certificate and Education Program Options

Animal caretaker certificate programs instruct students on various elements of animal behavior and health as well as methods for grooming and feeding animals via a combination of practical experience and traditional courses.

Essential Information

Students enrolled in an animal caretaker certificate program learn about animal nutrition, characteristics of different breeds and species, obedience training, grooming and feeding methods, animal behavioral problems, animal exercise and basic veterinary issues. Direct contact with animals is provided through clinical experience. The majority of these programs have few or no admissions prerequisites. However, some community colleges require applicants to have a high school diploma or a General Education Development (GED) equivalent.

  • Prerequisites: Most programs don't have any; some require a high school diploma or GED.
  • Program Length: Varies

Animal Caretaker Certificate

A certificate program in animal care is likely to include courses that are practical and hands-on in nature. Students build skills and knowledge in the following areas:

  • Veterinary anatomy and physiology
  • Animal science
  • Animal training techniques
  • Animal nutrition
  • Laboratory animal care
  • Clinical practicum

Popular Career Options

Employers have different educational requirements for the position of animal caretaker. Many animal shelters and kennels hire high school graduates and provide on-the-job training. Other employers prefer or require at least a certificate in animal care. Graduates of certificate programs are prepared for a variety of entry-level careers working directly with animals. Some of these include:

  • Animal shelter employee
  • Humane Society staff
  • Animal laboratory research assistant
  • Private practice veterinary assistant
  • Pet store manager

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), animal care and service workers are expected to see a 15% increase in employment over 2012-2022. The mean annual wage for non-farm animal caretakers was $22,970 as of May 2014 (

Continuing Education

There are several organizations offering certification for animal caretakers, depending upon their chosen specialties and vocations. For example, the National Dog Groomers Association of America offers certification for professional dog groomers. Individuals interested in working in a particular branch of the industry should contact potential employers and inquire as to what certifications, if any, are necessary to gain employment.

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