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Become An Animal Care Specialist

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Working As An Animal Care Specialist

  • Handling and Moving Objects
  • Getting Information
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Performing General Physical Activities
  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Repetitive

  • $23,699

    Average Salary

What Does An Animal Care Specialist Do

Animal care and service workers provide care for animals. They feed, groom, bathe, and exercise pets and other nonfarm animals. Job tasks vary by position and place of work.

Duties

Animal care and service workers typically do the following:

  • Give food and water to animals
  • Clean equipment and the living spaces of animals
  • Monitor animals and record details of their diet, physical condition, and behavior
  • Examine animals for signs of illness or injury
  • Exercise animals
  • Bathe animals, trim nails, clip hair, and attend to other grooming needs
  • Train animals to obey or to behave in a specific manner

Animal care and service workers train, feed, groom, and exercise animals. They also clean, disinfect, and repair animal cages. They play with the animals, provide companionship, and observe behavioral changes that could indicate illness or injury.

Boarding kennels, pet stores, animal shelters, rescue leagues, veterinary hospitals and clinics, stables, aquariums and natural aquatic habitats, zoological parks, and many laboratories house animals and employ animal care and service workers.

Nonfarm animal caretakers typically work with cats and dogs in animal shelters or rescue leagues. All caretakers attend to the basic needs of animals, but experienced caretakers may have more responsibilities, such as helping to vaccinate or euthanize animals under the direction of a veterinarian. Caretakers also may have administrative duties, such as keeping records, answering questions from the public, educating visitors about pet health, and screening people who want to adopt an animal.

Animal trainers train animals for obedience, performance, riding, security, or assisting people with disabilities. They familiarize animals with human voices and contact, and they teach animals to respond to commands. Most animal trainers work with dogs and horses, but some work with marine mammals, such as dolphins. Trainers teach a variety of skills. For example, some may train dogs to guide people with disabilities; others teach animals to cooperate with veterinarians or train animals for a competition or show.

Groomers specialize in maintaining a pet’s appearance. Kennels, veterinary clinics, or pet supply stores employ groomers, where they groom mostly dogs, but some cats, too. In addition to cutting, trimming, and styling pets’ fur, groomers clip nails, clean ears, and bathe pets. Groomers also schedule appointments, sell products to pet owners, and identify problems that may require veterinary attention.

Groomers may operate their own business, work in a grooming salon, or run their own mobile grooming service that travels to clients’ homes. Demand for mobile grooming services is growing because these services are convenient for pet owners, allowing the pet to stay in its familiar environment.

Grooms care for horses. Grooms work at stables and are responsible for feeding, grooming, and exercising horses. They saddle and unsaddle horses, give them rubdowns, and cool them off after a ride. In addition, grooms clean stalls, polish saddles, and organize the tack room where they keep harnesses, saddles, and bridles. They also take care of food and supplies for the horses. Experienced grooms sometimes help train horses.

Keepers care for animals in zoos. They plan diets, feed, and monitor the eating patterns of animals. They also clean the animals’ enclosures, monitor their behavior, and watch for signs of illness or injury. Depending on the size of the zoo, they may work with one species or multiple species of animals. Keepers may help raise young animals, and they often spend time answering questions from the public.

Kennel attendants care for pets while their owners are working or traveling. Basic attendant duties include cleaning cages and dog runs, and feeding, exercising, and playing with animals. Experienced attendants also may provide basic healthcare, bathe animals, and attend to other basic grooming needs.

Pet sitters look after animals while their owner is away. Most pet sitters feed, walk, and play with pets daily. They go to the pet owner’s home, allowing the pet to stay in its familiar surroundings and follow its routine. More experienced pet sitters also may bathe, groom, or train pets. Pet sitters typically watch over dogs, but some also take care of cats and other pets.

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How To Become An Animal Care Specialist

Most animal care and service workers have a high school diploma and learn the occupation on the job. Many employers prefer to hire people who have experience with animals.

Education

Most animal care and service worker positions require at least a high school diploma or equivalent.

Although pet groomers typically learn by working under the guidance of an experienced groomer, they can also attend grooming schools. The length of each program varies with the school and the number of advanced skills taught.

Most zoos require keepers to have a bachelor’s degree in biology, animal science, or a related field.

Animal trainers usually need a high school diploma or equivalent, although some positions may require a bachelor’s degree. For example, marine mammal trainers usually need a bachelor’s degree in marine biology, animal science, biology, or a related field.

Dog trainers and horse trainers typically qualify by taking courses at community colleges or vocational and private training schools.

Training

Most animal care and service workers learn through on-the-job training. They begin by performing basic tasks and work up to positions that require more responsibility and experience.

Some animal care and service workers may receive training before they enter their position. For example, caretakers in shelters can attend training programs through the Humane Society of the United States and the American Humane Association. Pet groomers often learn their trade by training under the guidance of an experienced groomer.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Although not required by law, certifications may help workers establish their credentials and enhance their skills. For example, 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-diving.

For self-employed workers, many states require animal care and service workers to have a business license.

Other Experience

For many caretaker positions, it helps to have experience working with animals. Nearly all animal trainer and zookeeper positions require candidates to have experience with animals. Volunteering and internships at zoos and aquariums are excellent ways to gain experience in working with animals.

Important Qualities

Compassion. Animal care and service workers must be compassionate when dealing with animals and their owners. They should like animals and must treat them with kindness.

Customer-service skills. Animal care and service workers should understand pet owners’ needs so they can provide services that leave the owners satisfied. Some workers may need to deal with distraught pet owners. For example, caretakers working in animal shelters may need to reassure owners looking for a lost pet.

Detail oriented. Animal care and service workers must be detail oriented because they are often responsible for keeping animals on a strict diet, maintaining records, and monitoring changes in animals’ behavior.

Patience. Animal caretakers and all animal trainers need to be patient when training or working with animals that do not respond to commands.

Physical stamina. Stamina is important for animal care and service workers because their work often involves kneeling, crawling, bending, and lifting heavy supplies, such as bags of food.

Problem-solving skills. Animal trainers must be able to assess whether the animals are responding to teaching methods and identify which methods are most successful.

Reliability. In order to meet the customer’s needs, animal care and service workers need to care for animals in a scheduled and timely manner.

Trustworthiness. Pet sitters must demonstrate that they can be trusted when caring for animals and properties while the owner is away.

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Animal Care Specialist Jobs

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Animal Care Specialist Career Paths

Animal Care Specialist
Crew Member Operator Office Manager
Administrative Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Animal Technician Security Officer Night Auditor
Assistant General Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Laboratory Technician Specialist Operations Manager
Business Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Barista Chef Director Of Food And Beverage
Club Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Crew Member General Manager Property Manager
Communications Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Animal Technician Facilities Manager Safety Manager
Compliance Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Laboratory Technician Instructor General Manager
Facilities Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Security Officer Operator Foreman
General Contractor
6 Yearsyrs
Veterinary Technician Office Manager Operations Manager
General Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Veterinary Technician Assistant Licensed Veterinary Technician Practice Manager
Hospitality Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Veterinary Technician Assistant Home Health Aid Front Desk Agent
Hotel Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Supervisor Warehouse Manager Director, Inside Sales
Lead Generator
5 Yearsyrs
Research Technician Laboratory Manager Quality Assurance Manager
Operations Director
9 Yearsyrs
VET Assistant Office Manager
Operations Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Research Technician Medical Technologist Office Manager
Practice Manager
9 Yearsyrs
VET Assistant Technician Project Manager
Program Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Security Officer Delivery Driver Direct Support Professional
Residential Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Veterinary Technician Technician Service Technician
Service Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Kennel Attendant Animal Control Officer
Shelter Manager
5 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as an Animal Care Specialist?

Animal Care Specialist Demographics

Gender

Female

71.6%

Male

26.6%

Unknown

1.8%
Ethnicity

White

66.1%

Hispanic or Latino

14.5%

Black or African American

10.4%

Asian

5.5%

Unknown

3.4%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

55.9%

French

11.8%

German

8.8%

Swedish

2.9%

Portuguese

2.9%

Irish

2.9%

Hawaiian

2.9%

Arabic

2.9%

Cree

2.9%

Thai

2.9%

Italian

2.9%
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Animal Care Specialist Education

Schools

Ohio State University

8.4%

Santa Fe College

6.0%

University of Phoenix

6.0%

University of Wisconsin - River Falls

6.0%

Columbia Southern University

4.8%

University of Toledo

4.8%

Valencia College

4.8%

Ashford University

4.8%

Arizona State University

4.8%

Western Illinois University

4.8%

San Juan College

4.8%

Kennesaw State University

4.8%

Southern New Hampshire University

4.8%

Washington State University

4.8%

Northern Virginia Community College

4.8%

Colorado State University

4.8%

Grand Canyon University

4.8%

University of Central Missouri

3.6%

Columbus State Community College

3.6%

University of Rhode Island

3.6%
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Majors

Biology

15.1%

Medical Assisting Services

13.8%

Animal Science

8.4%

Zoology

8.4%

Business

7.4%

Psychology

6.4%

Criminal Justice

5.2%

Environmental Science

4.4%

Ecology, Population Biology, And Epidemiology

4.4%

Nursing

3.7%

Medical Technician

3.2%

Liberal Arts

3.0%

General Studies

2.5%

Education

2.5%

Veterinary Medicine

2.5%

Communication

2.0%

Health Care Administration

2.0%

Fine Arts

1.7%

Photography

1.7%

English

1.7%
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Degrees

Bachelors

41.8%

Other

29.1%

Associate

15.1%

Masters

6.8%

Certificate

4.0%

Diploma

1.7%

Doctorate

1.0%

License

0.5%
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Top Skills for An Animal Care Specialist

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  1. Animal Care
  2. Dog Kennels
  3. Customer Service
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Provided exceptional animal care, maintaining rigorous Safety and Sanitary standards and liaising heavily with potential adopters.
  • Provided exceptional customer service.- Aided in live animal care.- Assisted in anti-theft measures.- Ensured shelves were stocked and faced accordingly.
  • Provided daily care for animals in veterinary treatment, research and development facilities.
  • Developed and implemented quality care of the complete animal collection resulting in animal and guest safety.
  • Assisted veterinarian in surgical procedures and performed euthanasia when instructed by veterinarian.

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Top Animal Care Specialist Employers

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Jobs From Top Animal Care Specialist Employers

Animal Care Specialist Videos

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