Animal Training Degree Program Overviews

Animal training degree programs prepare aspiring animal trainers to work with different animal breeds for police work, obedience, sport, search and rescue, or caregiving. Program details, and info on careers and continuing your education, follow.

Essential Information

Students in two-year animal care and management programs learn to handle and train many domestic and wildlife species. They also participate in internships at local animal facilities such as zoos, aquariums and veterinary hospitals.

Prerequisites for these two-year programs include a high school diploma or its equivalent, as well as SAT or ACT scores.

Associate of Science in Animal Care and Management

Animal training skills can only be acquired through a combination of strong pedagogical lessons and technical, hands-on experience. Below is an example of courses students may take in an animal training degree program:

  • Animal behavior management
  • Wildlife education
  • Animal care and handling
  • Conservation
  • Record-keeping
  • Capture and restraint

Salary Information and Employment Outlook

Overall, employment of animal care and service workers is projected to grow 11% from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), prospective horse and marine mammal trainers can expect slow job growth due to the low number of positions available in a competitive market. The job market looks more favorable for dog trainers, especially in larger cities. The BLS reported the median hourly wage for animal trainers as $12.80 in May 2015.

Popular Career Options

Entry-level animal care positions generally require on-the-job training or an associate's degree. Specialist positions, such as marine mammal trainer, require a bachelor's degree in biology or a related field. Animal care professionals may also find career opportunities outside the field of veterinary science. Here are a few options:

  • Aquarist
  • Zoological park trainer
  • Aquarium curator
  • Search and rescue handler
  • Kennel caretaker
  • Pet groomer
  • Animal shelter manager

Continuing Education Information

Those interested in animal training leadership or management positions may consider applying to a bachelor's degree program in animal behavior, biology, zoology, animal science or a related field. However, the curriculum for these programs is generally scientific-oriented and may not involve hands-on animal training.

Focused programs are available for certain sub-specialties of animal training. Dog trainers may pursue certification by a state-approved trade school or vocational school. Aspiring horse trainers may pursue a bachelor's degree program in equine science. Apprenticeship opportunities are also available for individuals desiring to work with specific animals or breeds.

Animal training degree programs prepare aspiring animal trainers for entry-level positions within the industry, although some jobs may require additional on-the-job training. Specialist positions with certain animals may require bachelor's degrees in biology, equine science or a related field.

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