Schools for Aspiring Animal Care Specialists

Program options for aspiring animal care specialists can be found at community colleges, technical schools and 4-year colleges and universities. These programs can prepare you for a variety of employment opportunities upon graduation.

Students interested in becoming animal care specialists may choose between certificate programs that last a year or less and 2-year associate degree programs; general animal science studies are also available at the bachelor's degree level.

Schools with Animal Care or Animal Science Programs

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition and Fees (2015-2016)*
University of California - Davis Davis, CA 4-year, Public Bachelor's $13,951 (undergrad in-state), $38,659 undergrad out-of-state)
Cornell University Ithaca, NY 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's $49,116 (undergraduate), $29,581 (graduate)
Colorado State University Fort Collins, CO 4-year, Public Bachelor's $10,558 (undergrad in-state), $27,267 (undergrad out-of-state)
North Carolina State University Raleigh, NC 4-year, Public Associate, Bachelor's $8,581 (undergrad in-state), $24,932 (undergrad out-of-state)
Ohio State University Columbus, OH 4-year, Public Bachelor's $10,037 (undergrad in-state), $27,365 (undergrad out-of-state)
University of Wisconsin - Madison Madison, WI 4-year, Public Bachelor's $5,148 (in-state), $12,132 (out-of-state)
Texas A&M University - College Station College Station, TX 4-year, Public Bachelor's $10,176 (undergrad in-state), $28,768 (undergrad out-of-state)
University of Minnesota - Twin Cities Minneapolis, MN 4-year, Public Certificate, Bachelor's $13,790 (undergrad in-state), $22,210 (undergrad out-of-state)

Sources: *NCES, school websites

School Selection Criteria

You may want to consider the following when searching for schools in this field:

  • Search for programs that focus on small animal care when interested in this specialty.
  • Look for programs offering coursework in grooming or kennel care when interested in these areas.
  • Consider an associate's or higher program if you seek more clinical opportunities.
  • Some programs offer specialized instruction on caring for animals in specific settings like aquariums, zoos, and laboratories; such programs may equip students for additional responsibilities as wildlife conservation instructors.

Animal Care Certificate

Certificate programs for animal care specialists may be completed in one or two semesters and can qualify students for employment in a variety of settings, including veterinary practices, grooming and boarding establishments, pet stores, rescue organizations and equine training facilities. Clinical experiences are commonly required.

Associate Degree in Animal Care

Associate-level training in animal care is sometimes offered through animal management programs or as a concentration in animal science programs. Hands-on experiences may be attained through training in on-campus labs and clinics, as well as off-campus at various facilities working with veterinary staff.

Certificate, associate, and bachelor's programs can prepare students for animal care careers in a range of environments, with both stand-alone programs and concentrations within related majors available. Clinical instruction is often central to any animal care program.


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