Dog Trainer Career Overview
Dog trainers belong to the category of animal care and service workers and are responsible for teaching dogs important skills, such as obedience and security. They train dogs to respond to commands and gestures and ensure that they are ready to be transferred to the facility or individual that they have been assigned to. Through training, dogs become accustomed to human presence and interaction.
|Required Skills||Physical fitness/stamina, compassion, patience, customer service skills, detail-oriented, problem-solving skills, reliability|
|Job Growth (2018-2028)*||13% (animal trainers)|
|Median Salary (2018)*||$29,290 (animal trainers)|
Source: *U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics
Steps to Become a Dog Trainer Online
Although online certificate programs for dog training are available, much of the learning experience still requires physical interaction with dogs and pet owners. One can obtain the certificate and trainer certification online, but apprenticeships and volunteer work must be accomplished in person.
Step 1. Earn a Certificate in Dog Training Online
A high school diploma is enough to let aspiring dog trainers study under a mentor, but they may also enroll in vocational courses or career diploma programs in DEAC (Distance Education Accrediting Commission)-accredited schools for a head start. Animal training is a hands-on practice, so only a few schools offer these programs online. Classes offered in these online programs include understanding dog behavior and behavioral problems, veterinary basics, communication, conditioning, and training for different circumstances. Students may focus on specific types of dog training, like service dog training or guard dog training.
To aid students in successfully completing their class requirements, schools offer online tools that track their progress and help them set goals, as well as virtual simulations and informative videos. Students typically take 6 months to 1 year to finish a dog training program and may have to pay $3000 to $5000 in tuition fees.
Step 2. Hands-On Training
While learning the real-world aspects of dog training can be done on the job, employers prefer trainers with actual experience in handling animals. Graduates of online dog training programs can volunteer in animal shelters and other similar facilities or organizations. Dog trainers will encounter dogs of all personalities and temperaments during their careers, so before starting an individual practice or working in an establishment, they need to be exposed to as many of these as possible.
Step 3. Certification
Licensure or certification is not required to practice as a dog trainer, but it helps to boost credibility and improve skills. The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) offers a certification exam that can be taken online. This multiple-choice exam is 180 questions long and costs $385. Applicants can take a practice exam online to prepare, then schedule an appointment through the CCPDT website. The actual exam will be taken in a computer-based testing facility.
Step 4. Continuing Education
Once certified, dog trainers can take online courses from the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT). They must complete webinars that are 1-3 hours long or certificate courses within a specific amount of time. After gaining continuing education units (CEUs) through these webinars/certificate courses, dog trainers can request the APDT to issue the obtained CEUs to the CCPDT, International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC), or other organizations.