Begin a Career in an Animal Adoption Agency: Training and Career Info

Sep 19, 2019

A nurturing, compassionate individual who adores animals may want to contemplate a career as an animal adoption worker. Besides performing basic care duties, they must also make sure the adopters are adequate. No formal education is required, but hands-on experience is vital, since taking care of animals can be very physically and emotionally demanding.

Essential Information

Animal adoption workers are employed by animal shelters and private agencies. On-the-job training is usually provided. A high school education and experience working with animals are generally preferred.

Required Education High school diploma
Other Requirements Experience working with animals typically preferred
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 16% for nonfarm animal caretakers (faster than average)
Median Annual Salary (2018)* $23,760 for nonfarm animal caretakers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Training for Animal Adoption Workers

Animal care workers in shelters and private animal adoption agencies learn to groom, exercise, feed and play with animals. They also clean cages and watch for signs of animal illnesses or injury. Trainees must be willing to do the difficult physical work of lifting or restraining animals. Working with animals can be dangerous at times, and workers are subject to receiving bites and scratches.

Animal adoption workers must deal with the emotional stress of caring for abandoned animals. Shelter workers face the additional stress of seeing animals euthanized. They often work late shifts and holidays to provide ongoing care for animals. Patience and compassion are key requirements for workers in animal shelters and animal rescue agencies. Workers must also remain courteous to the public and screen people to ensure animals are adopted by responsible pet owners.

Private adoption agency workers are trained to scrutinize potential pet owners and guarantee specific criteria are met before pet adoption is sanctioned. Prospective pet owners are often screened via applications that require proof of a fenced yard, veterinarian and personal references. A home visit is often necessary for pet agency workers to approve a pet adoption.

Career Information for Animal Adoption Workers

In 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that nonfarm animal caretaking jobs would grow much faster than the average between 2018 and 2028 ( In May 2018, the BLS reported that workers in the 90th percentile or higher earned $37,250 or more per year, whereas the bottom 10th percentile earned $18,160 or less per year.

Animal service workers seeking advancement might choose to start their own animal adoption agencies or seek promotions as shelter managers, administrators or directors. Additional education and training can be acquired through animal studies and animal welfare degree programs or though the Humane Society University. Coursework might cover:

  • Humane leadership
  • Financial management of nonprofits
  • Animal welfare
  • Animal law
  • Animal health and shelters
  • Fundraising for animal care organizations

Animal adoption workers seek to find good homes for animals, doing thorough checks on the adopters. They also act as caregivers, assuring that the animals are healthy and happy. They can work in shelters or adoption agencies, and although a college education isn't required, it is recommended it they want to move up in their career.

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