Animal Control Workers
Municipal and county animal control organizations and not-for-profit animal shelters employ animal control workers, who help ensure the safety and wellness of cats and dogs, wild birds, and other species of domesticated and wild animals. Animal control workers investigate cases of animal mistreatment and capture stray domesticated or wild animals. In cases of animal abuse, animal control workers are called upon to help prepare cases and testify in court. They may also help disseminate information to the public about animal control laws and animal welfare. Shelter-based animal control workers clean cages and make sure an animal's basic health needs are met.
Animal control workers deal with animals and people in crises. The animals may be sick or injured, so animal control workers wear protective gear to minimize the risk of personal injury or exposure to hazardous materials, contagious diseases, or infections. Some animal control workers operate motor vehicles. Education requirements for this job vary by employer, from a high school diploma to a four-year degree, and new hires typically complete on-the-job training.
|Degree Level||High school diploma or equivalent; some employers require a bachelor's degree|
|Degree Field||Animal science or related field|
|Certification||Voluntary certification is available|
|Experience||Experience with animals is recommended or required|
|Key Skills||Customer-service and problem-solving skills, compassion, attention to detail, patience and stamina|
|Salary (2015)||$33,450 per year (Median salary for animal control workers)|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Obtaining the Necessary Education
A high school diploma or equivalent is usually all that's needed for an entry-level position as an animal control worker. Some animal control jobs, however, require a bachelor's degree in areas such as animal or veterinary science. Bachelor's degree programs in animal science offer courses in subjects that include animal management, animal nutrition, animal behavior, and animal physiology.
- Develop communication skills. All animal care workers need communication skills and the patience to work with emotional people. Animal control workers frequently make contact with the public, so courses in customer service are also useful.
- Become familiar with animals. Employers typically look for workers with some animal experience. Prospective animal control workers may consider volunteering or interning at a shelter or similar facility to develop this experience.
Getting the Necessary Training
Although individuals can get training while on the job, employers might require employees to complete accredited programs that provide training in animal control. Training programs teach skills to workers with varying levels of experience. Beginning classes for animal control officers include instruction in public relations, first aid for animals, and collecting evidence. Advanced courses for animal control officers offer instruction in capturing animals, investigating cruel treatment of animals, and containing animals. Animal control officers can also enroll in seminars and classes to keep up-to-date on issues such as euthanasia and laws about cruelty to animals.
Career Advancement Certification
Agencies hiring animal control workers might give preference to those with a certification from an animal control association. Certification isn't necessary. However, in every state in the U.S., animal control organizations like the National Animal Control Association (NACA) offer training leading to certification as an animal control officer. The training programs include courses in areas such as animal diseases, identification, and first aid, as well as ethics, crises intervention, and shelter operations.
In order to become an animal control worker and be successful in the field, prospective workers should obtain the necessary education, complete the necessary training, and consider official certification to advance his or her career.