Animal Breeder Career Info

Apr 10, 2019

Career Definition for an Animal Breeder

The title of animal breeder may apply to a wide range of more specific occupations. Animal breeders may breed purebred cats or dogs to be sold as pets or to show professionally. When this is the case, animal breeders strive to meet specific standards in their animals as set by organizations such as the American Kennel Club. An animal breeder may assist with the breeding of large animals, such as prize-winning race horses or animals in a zoo. Often, the job title of animal breeder refers to an animal scientist who develops more efficient ways to produce the meat and other animal products that people eat.

Regardless of the specific type of worker, animal breeders work closely and daily with their specialty animals, providing them with food, water, shelter and medical care. Breeders are familiar with the genetics of their animals and understand how to encourage procreation among them, taking into account genealogy, characteristics and insemination techniques to achieve the best results. Breeders are also responsible for keeping records of genealogy, health and birth intervals, as well as business records for sold animals.

Education High school diploma recommended, bachelor's in agricultural science or bachelor's in veterinary science available
Job Skills Compassion, team work, scientific knowledge, calm demeanor, stamina.
Mean Salary (2018)* $43,080 per year
Job Growth (2016-2026)* 2%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements

Small and domestic animal breeders do not require any formal training, but they should familiarize themselves with the desired and standard characteristics of the breed they work with. Those wishing to breed animals in a more exotic environment such as a zoo will need to first earn a bachelor's degree in veterinary science and perhaps specialize in graduate and/or postgraduate studies in zoology. To breed agricultural animals, a 4-year degree in agricultural science should be adequate for most entry-level positions. According to O*Net Online in 2018, 86% of breeders held a high school diploma or equivalent, and 4% completed some college education, but did not hold degrees.

Required Skills

O*Net Online reported that animal breeders should hold the following qualities:

  • Compassion for and a genuine interest in improving the lives of animals, even if they are being bred for the marketplace
  • Willingness to share research and work as a team member for the betterment of a species
  • Knowledge of science and/or veterinary medicine
  • Hand-steadiness, a calm demeanor and physical stamina when dealing with animals

Employment and Salary Outlook

Earnings vary widely due to the spectrum of activities represented by the job title. Even within the small and domestic animal breeding category, the earning potential depends on the type of animal bred and whether or not that breeder has produced any verifiable champions. However, the BLS reported that animal breeders earned an average annual salary of $43,080 in May 2018. States with the highest number of professional animal breeders in the same year included Wisconsin, California and New York per the BLS.

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