Those who are interested in a career in the equine industry have several options to consider. They can pursue postsecondary studies to become a veterinarian or, through on-the-job training, can become a horse breeder or horse trainer.
Jobs in the equine industry are varied, but common ones include breeders, trainers and veterinarians. Equine veterinarian jobs require advanced education and state licensing, while the others typically don't require anything more than a high school degree or GED and work-related experience. Pay tends to vary according to educational requirements.
|Required Education||High school degree for many positions|
|Other Requirements||State licensing for other positions|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||9% for veterinarians|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$88,490 annually for veterinarians|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Breeders are in charge of selecting the horses used in reproduction based on a variety of factors. Whether the horses are bred for racing, showing or therapy, breeders coordinate breeding options based on genealogy and biology, or even business and management. Tasks may include inspecting horses for illness, keeping scientific records and maintaining an adequate work environment. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the middle half of all animal breeders, including those breeding horses, made an annual wage of $28,350-$58,710, as of May 2015.
There are no universal requirements for typical animal breeding jobs, and most training comes on the job. Some jobs may require work-related experience in a similar setting, an associate's degree or vocational school training. Horse breeders will want to be knowledgeable in science, mathematics, technology and engineering, and depending on whether they own their own farm, may want to have management skills as well. Two years of job training with individuals experienced in a similar occupation is typical for aspiring breeders.
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Horse trainer jobs entail altering the behavior of horses through instruction, most likely in a racing or riding capacity. The job is a physically demanding one and has a lot of close contact with horses, so observant and persistent individuals with a high level of comfort toward animals are ideal. As noted by the BLS, the annual wage for the middle half of all animal trainers, including horse trainers, was $20,640-$40,010 in May 2015. Competition for training jobs is strong, since few positions are open, the BLS noted.
Trainers typically do not need a formal education beyond that of a high school diploma or equivalent. Prospective equine trainers will benefit from any previous experience working with animals. Additionally, knowledge and skill in the latest trends in animal training and the ability to think creatively and solve problems are important for this occupation. Individuals may consider apprenticeship opportunities as well, in addition to the requisite on-the-job training.
Equine veterinarians are tasked with the treatment and diagnosis of illnesses, diseases and injuries in horse populations. Particularly for equine veterinarians, this means more than just operating in a medical office environment, and can entail traveling to a horse and providing medical treatment on the spot. This gives special importance to a veterinarian's ability to communicate information and recommendations to horse owners effectively regarding such issues as housing, disease prevention, medical procedures, medications and feeding. The BLS stated in May 2015 that the middle half of all veterinarians earned $69,280-$116,970 annually. The BLS also states that employment for veterinarians is expected to grow 9% from 2014-2024, which is faster than most occupations.
In order to become a practicing equine veterinarian, it's necessary to earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. Prospective veterinary school students will need to earn a bachelor's degree first and have pre-veterinary-related educational experience, as well as submit test scores to qualify. Acceptance into veterinarian programs is competitive and may require moving to a different state. Upon earning a graduate degree, aspiring veterinarians may elect to get experience through an internship before starting a career. Each state also has licensing requirements that must be met before becoming a practicing equine veterinarian.
Individuals who are skilled working with horses can consider a career as a horse breeder or trainer, or pursue a career as a veterinarian. There are no specific educational requirements for horse breeders and trainers. Veterinarians are required to have a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree and must be licensed.