USA Career Guide- Animal Care and Service Workers

Education needed to be Animal Care and Service Workers

Most animal care and service worker positions do not require formal education, but many animal care facilities require at least a high school diploma or the equivalent.

Zookeeper and marine mammal trainer positions require formal education - a bachelor’s degree in biology, animal science, or a related field.
Pet groomers typically learn by working under the guidance of an experienced groomer, they can also attend one of 50 state-licensed grooming schools. The length of each program varies with the school and the number of advanced skills taught.
Dog trainers and horse trainers typically qualify by taking courses at community colleges or vocational and private training schools.


Certifications are available in many of these occupations may help workers establish their credentials and enhance their skills. There are several professional associations and hundreds of private vocational and state-approved trade schools offer certification for dog trainers. The National Dog Groomers Association of America offers certification for master status as a groomer. Both the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters and Pet Sitters International offer a home-study certification program for pet sitters. Marine mammal trainers should be certified in SCUBA.

Pay of Animal Care and Service Workers

As reported  by BLS the median annual wage of non-farm animal caretakers was $19,550 in May 2010. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $16,050, and the top 10 percent earned more than $31,880. The median annual wage of animal trainers was $26,580 in May 2010. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $17,240, and the top 10 percent earned more than $53,580.

Job Prospects of Animal Care and Service Workers

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects overall employment of animal care and service workers to grow by 23 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations. However, employment growth will vary by specialty: for example, employment of non-farm animal caretakers is projected to grow by 28 percent, while employment of animal trainers is projected to grow by 3 percent. 
Job opportunities are excellent for animal care and service workers, there is growing pet population and companion animal population. This led to high demand for  dog trainers, groomers, pet sitters, kennel attendants, and caretakers in shelters and rescue leagues. Employment in kennels, grooming shops, pet stores, and veterinary clinics and hospitals is projected to increase to keep up with the growing demand for animal services.
In addition, entry requirements are low for most animal care occupations, so positions should continue to be available for workers looking to enter the field. However, candidates will face strong competition for positions as marine mammal trainers, horse trainers, and zookeepers. The relatively few positions and the popularity of the occupations should result in far more applicants than available positions.

Industrial Overview of Animal Care and Service Workers

Animal care and service workers held about 234,900 jobs in 2010. About 81 percent of these workers were non-farm animal caretakers, and 19 percent were animal trainers. Animal care and service workers work in a variety of settings.

For More Information
For career information and information on training, certification, and earnings of a related occupation—animal control officers—contact:
• National Animal Control Association, P.O. Box 480851, Kansas City, MO 64148-0851. Internet:

For information on becoming an advanced pet care technician at a kennel, contact:
• Pet Care Services Association, 2760 N. Academy Blvd., Suite 120, Colorado Springs, CO 80917. Internet:

For general information on pet grooming careers, including workshops and certification information, contact:
• National Dog Groomers Association of America, P.O. Box 101, Clark, PA 16113. Internet:
For information on pet sitting, including certification information, contact:
• National Association of Professional Pet Sitters, 15000 Commerce Parkway, Suite C, Mount Laurel, NJ 08054. Internet:
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