The term 'animal service worker' can be applied to a number of positions. An animal service worker might be a kennel attendant who cleans animal cages or even a trainer who teaches pets to respond to instructions. Others with this job title might perform duties like grooming, administering vaccinations, and collecting samples. These workers provide care in a variety of settings, such as veterinary clinics, pet stores, and zoos. Many animal services workers find caring for or working with animals to be their primary reward. However, animals can be unpredictable, and these professionals can be attacked by animals in their care. As a result, injuries are common in this profession. Caring for animals can also include physically demanding tasks, such as lifting heavy supplies or equipment.
Animal service workers should have physical stamina, compassion, problem-solving skills, customer service skills, and patience. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, animal care and service workers earned a median annual salary of $21,260 in 2015. This salary and job title does not apply to veterinarians.
Consider Employment Choices
Aspiring animal service workers should begin their careers by considering a desired position or career path. Aside from kennel attendants and animal trainers, other career options include pet sitters, groomers, and caretakers. As such, a thorough review of each job description and its training requirements may help prospective candidates decide on a path to follow.
Consider Postsecondary Courses
Although some employers in this field may only require a high school diploma or its equivalent, others may prefer candidates who have completed some postsecondary coursework. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that pet groomers don't need to have any formal education but may benefit from having experience with animals. Enrolling in a state-licensed grooming school can provide this experience. Animal trainers working for zoos may need to have a bachelor's degree in animal science, zoology, or a related field.
Aspiring animal service workers may gain experience by volunteering at animal shelters. Working as a volunteer can demonstrate to future employers a commitment to the caring of animals, which could make one a more attractive job candidate. Individuals may go on to pursue staff positions at shelters or seek employment with veterinary clinics, zoos, pet stores, boarding kennels, stables, or other animal care businesses. Depending on the employer, animal services workers will complete some type of on-the-job training once hired.
Although not required for employment, certification may help aspiring animal service workers enhance their job opportunities. For example, the National Dog Groomers Association of America certifies applicants as National Certified Master Groomers based on successful completion of exams. Other organizations, like the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters and the International Boarding and Pet Care Services Association, offer certifications for applicants that demonstrate working knowledge in animal care and business management. Candidates must also pass respective qualifying exams.
To reiterate, there are many types of careers available in the animal services field. Those who are interested in becoming an animal care worker should choose a career path, consider taking postsecondary courses, and gain hands-on training through volunteer opportunities.