Most individuals who desire to be an animal trainer gain the necessary skills by working with other trainers as an apprentice; formal certification isn't necessary. But certificate and 4-year bachelor's programs in animal training are available. Most certificate programs are offered from specialized training schools and commonly focus on the training of dogs, horses and marine life. Through curricula and instruction, students learn techniques to train animals to perform specific tasks, grow accustomed to human interaction, respond to commands and improve obedience, most often for the purposes of security, riding, helping disabled people or entertainment. Newer methods are designed to help veterinary professionals get animals to cooperate when receiving medical care. Animal psychology is a vital part of the traditional coursework.
Some schools may have no requirements for their programs, while others ask that applicants have or be in pursuit of a bachelor's degree in a related field, such as veterinary science, biology or zoology, and submit high school transcripts, letters of recommendation, standardized test scores and a personal statement. Work experience may be a benefit to some programs.
Animal Training Certification
Animal training certificate programs vary in length and coursework primarily consists of hands-on experience. However, related didactic courses may be required, such as:
- Animal psychology
- Animal anatomy and physiology
- Personal safety
- Client and owner relations
- Obedience training
- Marine biology
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for animal care and service workers, which includes trainers, is predicted to increase at a rate of 11% between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). The mean annual salary of animal trainers was $33,600 as of May 2015.
Certificates and bachelor's degrees in animal training provide hands-on instruction working with animals to prepare for careers as trainers and service workers.