How To Become An Animal Trainer In 2023 | Full Guide


Being an animal trainer can be a rewarding and dynamic career path, though it requires hard work and dedication.

To become an animal trainer, one should know basic animal behavior, care, nutrition, safety, and experience with animals. Additionally, having a degree in the sciences or technology related to animals is also beneficial.

Before starting, deciding what type of animals you would like to work with is essential—from horses and cats to dolphins and bears.

After deciding on which species of animal you want to specialize in training, the next step is gaining hands-on experience working with them.

This could include volunteering at shelters or internships at pet stores or private facilities that offer training services for those animals.

Aside from these steps, other necessary things about becoming an animal trainer are worth noting if you must pursue this career path.

These things and more have been carefully explored in this article. Carefully read through it, and you will be glad you did.

Here, we will discuss the steps for becoming an animal trainer, including gaining relevant qualifications and experience and finding job opportunities in the industry.

Who is an Animal Trainer?

An Animal Trainer is a professional who works with animals and helps to shape their behavior. They teach animals new behaviors, change existing behaviors, and troubleshoot any issues that arise during the training process.

They may work with various species depending on their specialty, though some specialize in certain species, such as horses or marine mammals.

The primary responsibility of an Animal Trainer is to help ensure the safety of both humans and animals.

This includes providing instructions and guidance to handlers so they can effectively manage animal behavior while also considering the individual needs of each animal being trained.

An Animal Trainer must be knowledgeable about animal physiology, psychology, and learning theory to develop successful training programs that meet their client’s goals and create a safe environment for everyone involved.

Different Fields of Animal Trainers

There are different animal trainers. They include:

Service Animal Trainer

Dogs are trained by service animal trainers, such as guide dog trainers, to help individuals with impairments who require extra support, have poor vision, or are blind. They teach some dogs how to assist people in dire circumstances, such as an epileptic crisis.

Other dogs assist police enforcement in the detection of persons or illegal substances. Some also learn how to defend themselves and fight when necessary.

Obedience Trainer

The practice of obedience training animals to obey is one of the most popular methods. Owners of dogs frequently take them to a dog trainer to teach them manners, follow directions, walk on a leash, and become housebroken. After the sessions, these trainers will teach pet owners how to interact with their animals.

Trainers, who often reward them when they do well, train animals one-on-one. The animal becomes more likely to comply with a command as they learn they will receive positive reinforcement and a treat when they behave in a certain way.

Film Animal Trainers

Animals are trained to exhibit particular behaviors for parts in films and television animal trainers. Transporting the animals to shooting sites and sets, feeding them, giving them medication, monitoring their physical and mental well-being, and cleaning cages and enclosures are all part of their duties.

These animal trainers collaborate with veterinarians to verify that animal care meets or exceeds industry requirements. Big cats, dogs, reptiles, horses, bears, elephants, parrots, farm animals, and birds of prey are some of the most well-known movie animals.

What Do Animal Trainers Do?

Animal trainers deal with animals, teaching them tricks, commands, and jobs that could include helping people or moving objects.

They may train many animals, including dogs, horses, and aquatic creatures. Animal training aims to teach the animal to respond to directions and follow them.

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To help a person with a disability, for security, or with horses, to allow someone to ride them, they might need to have an animal. Animal trainers can teach animals basic skills to help them cooperate during veterinary examinations.

Animal trainers spend a lot of time with their charges, frequently giving them primary care and keeping an eye out for any symptoms of illness or injury.

An animal trainer’s roles in any organization are summarized below:

  • Animal trainers have conversations with trainers or owners to learn their expectations and aspirations.
  • An animal trainer acquires knowledge of animal behavior.
  • They also establish animal training regimens.
  • Observing and studying animal behavior and health and discovering each animal’s unique skills.
  • Animal feeding and treatment.
  • They use methods like positive reinforcement and others to get animals to behave how you want them to.
  • Updating interested parties on the development and health of the animals.
  • General animal care includes grooming, sanitizing abodes or resting quarters, and acclimating animals to human sounds and contact.
  • Some roles might need assistance with animal breeding.

How much do Animal Trainers Earn?

Animal trainers earn an average yearly salary of $31,280. And on a wage basis, they typically start at $23,160 to $58,790.

To break it down, a senior-level animal trainer earns about $21.46 per hour and $44,630 per year. A mid-level animal trainer earns approximately $15.04 per hour and $31,280 per year.

On the other hand, Junior-level animal trainer earns from $13.51 per hour to $28,110 per year. Meanwhile, a fresher in the field’s salary is $11.13 per hour. And about $23,160 per year.

What are the Requirements for Becoming an Animal Trainer?

Animal trainers are specialized professionals responsible for animals’ care, handling, and training. The requirements to become an animal trainer varies. It depends on the type of animal being trained and the setting in which they will be working.

Most employers require that potential animal trainers have some formal education in biology or zoology-related fields and experience with various animals.

Additionally, many employers prefer that applicants know behavioral science principles such as operant conditioning and reinforcement theory. Animal trainers should also possess strong communication skills and knowledge about proper nutrition and medical care for their charges.

Finally, all animal trainers must abide by local laws regarding the possession and use of dangerous or exotic animals they may work with.

In summary, an animal trainer needs:

  • A high school diploma.
  • Extensive working knowledge of animals.
  • A bachelor’s degree may be necessary to work with some animals, such as marine life.
  • In most cases, more on-the-job training is essential.
  • Extensive understanding of animal behavior and care.
  • Strong interpersonal, communication, listening, and presentation abilities.
  • Outstanding teaching abilities and patience.
  • Excellent record-keeping abilities.
  • Exceptional ability to solve problems.

Animal Trainer’s Job Outlook

Roughly 14,830 animal trainers are working in the US. Stables, dog-training and companion pet programs, animal shelters, zoos, aquariums and oceanariums, amusement parks, rescue centers, pet stores, and circuses are just a few of the diverse employers that hire animal trainers.

Many works for themselves, and a select few exceptionally successful animal trainers work in the entertainment industry, working with dangerous or wild animals or training animal “actors.”

On the other hand, some jobs necessitate extensive travel and relocation. The number of employment prospects for animal trainers at these facilities will remain modest, notwithstanding the opening and expansion of several new zoos and aquariums.

How To Become an Animal Trainer?

Animal trainers must have some formal education, but you can take many different career paths to become qualified for positions in this field.

Some people may find employment even without a college degree, beginning in entry-level or apprenticeship roles under an experienced animal trainer and learning the necessary skills for several years before being qualified to train animals independently.

Others seek employment as animal trainers through schooling. For instance, many people who want to train dolphins attend college and have bachelor’s degrees in animal sciences or marine biology.

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A credential in animal training from a trade, community, or vocational college can help certain people enter the field.

Many horse trainers gained early experience working on farms or participating in equestrian sports or competitions. Through this experience, they gain the knowledge and abilities necessary to train horses for competition success when they are adults successfully.

Regardless of the route you decide to follow to seek a career as an animal trainer, ability and experience will be the essential qualifications to succeed in the position.

With only a high school diploma, you may need help to enter the area of animal training.

A formal college education may help you get started. Volunteering in a zoo, farm, or animal shelter could put you in a position to network with other animal trainers if you need help finding employment after graduation.

After getting a degree ad finding a job, there are two more important things to do if you want to be a professional trainer.

  • Get Certification
  • Join a professional Group

Get CertificatioN

With certification, you get a chance to earn a fat salary. You can get certified as a Professional Dog Trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. This certification is for trainers with five years of experience.

Join a Professional Group

Being a part of a professional group shows a level of commitment. Some of the organizations or groups include:

  • The International Marine Animal Trainers’ Association
  • Association of Animal Behavior Professionals
  • National Trainers Association

Progression Chart for Animal Trainer

According to the professional evolution of animal trainers, we have supplied information on these positions here. Those who desire to train animals are required to begin their careers in entry-level positions.

Animal behaviorists

Some experts in animal behavior retrain or train animals. They also address behavioral problems in house pets.

A bachelor’s degree is the minimum need for those who want to succeed in animal behavior, and many additional jobs call for a Ph.D. or veterinary medicine degree. Additionally, depending entirely on the line of work, certification or state licensure may be required.

Animal Breeders and Technicians:

Animal breeders select and breed animals that produce offspring with the desired features using their knowledge of genetic factors and animal science. For instance, they breed pigs with thinner meat, many egg-laying chickens, and sheep with better wool. Others raise and breed domestic animals, including cats, dogs, and other pets.

Animal caretakers

Animal caretakers develop numerous enrichment elements to expose the animal to novel objects and situations. Each animal must be fed and given access to water each day, and its cage must be kept clean, safe, and warm and, if necessary, stocked with supplies to maintain its focus and health. They can train or work out.

How much does becoming an Animal Trainer cost? 

Most animal trainers don’t need a degree; however, some jobs might require one. Pet trainers are not required to have certifications, but they may help you demonstrate your qualifications to potential employers.

Community colleges and vocational schools offer courses for dog and horse trainers. Working alongside a more seasoned trainer is another way animal trainers can develop their abilities.

A bachelor’s degree in biology, animal science, or a closely related discipline may be required if you want to specialize in teaching dolphins or other marine mammals.

An animal science bachelor’s degree program typically costs about $180,000 for four years.

How long is the training process to become an animal trainer?

Although obtaining a certification from a community college or vocational school can help you advance your qualifications, an animal trainer has no educational prerequisites.

You will spend two years on an associate’s degree or diploma program in this field. Working alongside more seasoned trainers helps some dog trainers gain practical experience.

Benefits of Becoming an Animal Trainer

Becoming an animal trainer can be a rewarding and fulfilling career. Not only do you get to work with animals, but you also have the opportunity to make a difference in their lives. Here are some of the benefits of becoming an animal trainer:

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You Get to Work With Animals: As an animal trainer, you will work with animals daily. You will learn about their behavior and how to train them to do different tasks. This is a great way to build relationships with animals and better understand their needs.

You Can Make a Difference: Animal trainers can make a real difference in the lives of animals. Through training, you can help animals become more obedient and less fearful and even teach them new behaviors that can benefit their owners. This is a great way to give back to animals and help them live happier and healthier lives.

You Will Learn New Skills: Becoming an animal trainer requires learning new skills and techniques. You will need to understand animal behavior, develop effective training methods, and stay up-to-date on the latest research and trends in animal training. This is a great way to expand your knowledge and grow professionally.

You Can Earn a Good Living: Animal trainers can earn a good living if they are successful. You can make a decent salary depending on the type of animals you work with and the services you offer. Plus, you can often set your hours and work from home, allowing you to choose when and where you work.

You Can Help People: Animal trainers can also help people by teaching them how to care for their pets. You can help pet owners create stronger bonds with their animals and ensure their pets are healthy and happy by providing guidance and instruction.


What type of schooling is required to train animals?

A general equivalency diploma is typically required for educational requirements to become an animal trainer. But in some circumstances, a bachelor’s degree program is. A marine animal educator, for instance, needs to have a bachelor’s degree in biology, marine science, animal husbandry, or a related field.

What is the length of training to become an animal trainer?

To become certified, dog trainers must complete a training course offered by several community colleges. This certificate will focus on canine behavior, basic dog training, and effective problem-solving techniques because it could take up to six months to complete.

What abilities are required to train animals?

The job requirements are flexible, but you still need a variety of abilities, including speaking, paying attention, critical analysis, problem-solving, management, and interpersonal skills, in addition to physical stamina, empathy, and persistence.

What are the advantages of working with animals?

Salary is also influenced by the kind of animal being taught and the instructor’s expertise. Benefits are typically provided to full-time animal trainers. Typical perks include paid time off for illness, vacation days, and health coverage. Self-employed animal trainers should have access to health insurance.

What type of education is required to train animals?

A general equivalency diploma is typically required for educational requirements to become an animal trainer.
But in some circumstances, a bachelor’s degree program is. A marine animal educator, for instance, needs to have a bachelor’s degree in biology, marine science, animal husbandry, or a related field.

In conclusion

Becoming an animal trainer is a challenging yet rewarding career that requires dedication and patience. It requires knowledge of animal behavior, experience with animals, good communication skills, and the ability to work independently.

With the right qualifications and certifications, anyone can become an animal trainer and make a difference in the lives of animals. Following the steps above, aspiring animal trainers can learn how to apply their skills to this exciting field. You can achieve success as an animal trainer with hard work and determination.


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