How To Become An Animal Trainer

  • Average Annual Salary: $25,720
  • Expected Lifetime Earnings: $1,088,000

While some jobs for animal trainers are requiring not more than a high school diploma or GED, some other applicants need to have a bachelor’s degree in an academic area that is related to training that specific type of animal. Most animal trainers typically don’t train family pets, as they work with animals towards particular professional goals or train animals for the completion of certain tasks. To see if this career is for you, take one of our career & personality quizzes.

A dog trainer, for example, may be specialized in training dogs for law enforcement tasks, or to become therapy animals or companion pets for persons with illnesses or disabilities. Horse trainers often work to enhance the performances of animals in horse shows, but they may also train horses to turn them into therapy animals for disabled or injured children, or for entertainment purposes.

Many animal trainers specialize via specific professional certification, and following these voluntary courses will definitely have a positive effect on their income potential.

What do they do?

Animal trainers are in the business of training animals for obedience purposes, or for security, riding, performance, harness purposes, or to assist individuals with disabilities. They train animals to ensure they are accustomed to human contact and voice, and they will be conditioning animals to become responsive to commands by humans. Animal trainers will educate animals in accordance with set and documented standards for competition or show, and they may train various animals to be carrying pack loads or to let them work in pack teams.

Where do the work?

Animal trainers may be working with a variety of animals in all sorts of settings, and some common situations are where they train horses for various competition purposes, or where they train dogs for police assistance or guiding services. There are also quite a few pet store workers, and professional circus workers, or professionals who are training marine animals, such as dolphins, in theme parks.

Job outlook and earning potential

According to the BLS, in 2014 there were some 46,000 professional animal trainers employed in the U.S. and the expected employment growth over the next decade, is very modest. Applicants for entry-level jobs won’t have that much trouble finding employment, and applicants for jobs in the dog training world will see fine openings as well, but those seeking positions as trainers in the worlds of horses and big sea mammals, will be facing strong competition.

In 2014, the median hourly wage for animal trainers was around $16.50, and they made, on average, an annual income of around $25,700. Their earnings, though, were differing considerably by their specific employment sector, and the top ten percent reported earnings of over $50,000, whereas the bottom ten percent was making less than $17,500 per year.

Geographical differences

Income potential varies enormously across the country. The highest-paying regions were found in Florida and California, where the Fremont-Hayward-Oakland area was the best-paying. Here, animal trainers reportedly made an annual salary of nearly $60,000. In the Glendale-Long Beach-Los Angeles region of California, we saw median earnings of around $52,000 per year, while in Florida’s Clearwater-Saint Petersburg-Tampa area the average yearly income for animal trainers was some $47,000. You can take a free career quiz right here to see if this professional direction may be your ticket!


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