Animal Control Officer Training Program and Certification Information

Oct 08, 2019

While on-the-job training is common for animal control officers who are not in managerial roles, animal officer certificate programs are available through animal control associations, community colleges and law enforcement training centers.

Essential Information

Animal control officer certificate programs are available for those interested in entering the profession and for currently practicing animal control professionals. Accelerated certificate programs may take 1-2 weeks to complete. Students are typically required to be 18 years old before enrolling in an animal control certificate program. Professional credentials for graduates may be obtained through the National Animal Control Association. Firearms certification and a physical examination may be necessary.

Certificate in Animal Officer Training

Training consists of intensive courses covering topics such as animal behavior, euthanasia, constitutional law and crime scene documentation. Coursework includes studying animal diseases, capture techniques and crisis intervention. Other courses could include:

  • Blood sports
  • Evidence collection and investigation
  • Media relations
  • Self-defense against humans
  • Stress management

Employment Outlook

Animal control officers investigate allegations of animal cruelty, restrain dangerous, abandoned or unattended animals and deliver unclaimed animals to animal shelters. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that animal control workers earned a median annual wage of $36,330 in 2018 ( There were 12,500 jobs in this field in 2018. Most of these professionals worked in local government and social advocacy organizations. During the decade from 2018 to 2028 the BLS expects employment opportunities to increase by 6%, as fast as average for all occupations.

Continuing Education Options

Animal control officers may seek to enroll in continuing education and training courses on current and emergent topics, such as in emergency planning. Emergency planning training teaches animal control officers how to get ready for the aftermath of a terrorist attack or a natural disaster. This training includes information on preparing for large-scale animal sheltering, evacuations, disposal of animal remains and protecting humans from animal-borne diseases.

Professional Certification

Though animal control officer training requirements are not nationally standardized, the National Animal Control Association (NACA) offers courses that are recognized by a majority of state credentialing authorities. NACA certification is granted after completing two NACA training courses within 18 months.

Some states have additional requirements for certification; commonly, these requirements include firearms certification and a physical examination. Additionally, some states require continuing education credits every 2-3 years. Check with the local department of health and human services regarding licensure.

Aspiring animal control officers can pursue training in the field either on the job or through readily available certificate programs. Additional certifications are available through professional organizations, and some states may require certifications in firearms or a physical examination in order to work professionally.

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