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Schools for Aspiring Animal Cops: How to Choose

Aspiring animal cops, also known as animal control officers, study how to conduct public outreach and education, catch dangerous animals and enforce laws for the safety of human and animal populations. Typically, the programs are in animal control or criminal justice.

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While a job working with animals can seem exciting, the truth is that animal cops experience dangerous conditions and job competition. Schools don't just train their students; they also help them make a successful transition to a difficult professional environment.

Schools with Animal Cop Programs

Some animal cop programs in the United States are offered at the institutions listed here.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition 2015-2016*
National Animal Care & Control Association Murrieta, CA Professional Organization National Certifications $275-$525 per course (2016-2017)
Gulf Coast State College Panama City, FL 4-year, Public Certificate, Associate's, Continuing Education Class In-state $2,765; Out-of-state $10,072
Daytona State College Daytona Beach, FL 4-year, Public Certification Course In-state $3,282; Out-of-state $12,352
Ocean County College Toms River, NJ 2-year, Public Certification Course In-district $4,255; In-state $5,035; Out-of-state $7,735
Kirkwood Community College Cedar Rapids, IA 2-year, Public Diploma, Associate's In-state $4,194; Out-of-state $5,034
Carroll Community College Westminster, MD 2-year, Public Associate's In-district $3,619; In-state $5,261; Out-of-state $7,334
Southside Virginia Community College Alberta, VA 2-year, Public Certificate In-state $4,350; Out-of-state $10,188
Shoreline Community College Shoreline, WA 2-year, Public Associate's In-state $3,730; Out-of-state $6,451
Bay State College Boston, MA 2-year, Private Associate's $21,524

Sources: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES); School websites

School Selection Criteria

Consider the following when looking for an animal cop school:

  • Programs that provide training in more advanced topics, such as bite stick, chemical immobilization and euthanasia training, will better prepare students for the many types of situations they will meet in their careers.
  • Look for programs that maintain links to animal control departments and offering extra training or contact with current control officers.
  • Verify that the program meets your state's regulations and training requirements.
  • Some programs require that students are employed or have experience in animal control, either through a humane society, animal shelter or law enforcement agency.

Certificate Programs

Certificate programs can encompass anywhere from 40-160 hours of training. Certificate programs often help aspiring animal cops meet minimum job training requirements and may also help students earn state-mandated certifications. Current animal control officers sometimes use certificate programs to meet continuing education requirements.

Associate Degree in Criminal Justice Programs

Students can choose to earn an Associate of Science in Criminal Justice degree, which will qualify them to handle the law enforcement side of animal control; however, further training and certification may still be required. Aspiring animal cops may also continue on into a criminal justice bachelor's degree program or earn a degree in animal science.

A career as an animal cop can be pursued with a certificate, diploma, associate's degree or professional certifications from a 2- or 4- year public or private college or professional organization. It may be possible to pursue this career by completing studies in criminal justice initially, although additional training to specialize in animal control may be required.

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