All About Being An Animal Trainer

You think about becoming an animal trainer but want more information on this career path before making your final decision?

Great! This article is exactly for you since I will show you everything you need to know about being an animal trainer.

Not only will I show you detailed tables about the salary of animal trainers in every state and at every career level, but I will also show you the overall job prospects in the animal training industry.

Moreover, I also show you how to become an animal trainer and what mistakes you should avoid at all costs.

At the end of this article, I also provide you with an FAQ section where I answer many questions about an animal trainer career.

Without further ado, let’s get right into it!

Table of Contents

What does an Animal Trainer do?

Animal trainers make sure that animals of clients learn skills that are beneficial to their owners and that just make the lives of pet owners much easier.

Animal trainers often have to deal with difficult animals that don’t want to comply with the commands of their owners and have to find ways how to convince those animals to do what their owners want.

Duties of an Animal Trainer

  • Work with a variety of different animals like dogs, dolphins or horses
  • Teach pets useful tricks
  • Learn pets how to comply with commands
  • Make the life of pet owners easier and more efficient
  • Train animals to be useful helpers for disabled people
  • Train pets to find dodgy substances for security reasons
  • Accustom animals to humans
  • Meet hygienic requirements and clean up
  • Take appropriate safety measures for animals
  • Make sure that animals don’t escape
  • Communication with clients
  • Acquisition of new jobs

What a Typical Day looks like as an Animal Trainer?

Animal trainers usually start their workday between 7 and 9 a.m.

After getting to their workplace, the first thing to do is to talk to new clients and to figure out what they want from you and how you can help them.

After talking to clients about their preferences and expectations, it is on you to train those animals in a proper manner.

Depending on the animal, training it can take from a few days to a few months, depending on how well the animal listens to commands in the first place and also on the expectations of the client.

After training animals for a few hours, you will quit your official work with those animals between 5 and 6 p.m. most of the time.

However, this doesn’t mean that your workday is over yet.

You also have to clean up everything and make sure that hygienic requirements are met before you finally leave your workplace.

Animal Trainer Salary 2021

Animal Trainer salary brackets 2021

Salary BracketsSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Top 10 %> $48,000> $23.25
Top 25 %$41,000 – $45,000$20.29 – $22.34
Bottom 25 %$26,000 – $29,000$12.67 – $14.37
Bottom 10 %$18,000 – $24,000$8.93 – $11.73
Range$18,000 – $52,000$8.93 – $25.90
Average$34,000$16.74

Animal Trainer salary 2021 by expert level

Level of ExperienceSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Entry level$18,000 – $24,000$8.93 – $11.47
Junior$21,000 – $26,000$10.37 – $12.83
Professional$27,000 – $34,000$13.53 – $16.72
Senior Professional$31,000 – $42,000$15.38 – $20.68
Expert$36,000 – $44,000$17.53 – $21.79
Top Expert$39,000 – $52,000$19.17 – $25.83

Animal Trainer salary by state 2021 (average)

StateSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Alabama$30,200$14.66
Alaska$27,100$13.58
Arizona$26,600$12.83
Arkansas$28,400$13.92
California$37,800$18.38
Colorado$29,600$14.37
Connecticut$36,200$17.69
Delaware$33,800$16.73
District of Columbia$32,200$15.49
Florida$30,600$14.67
Georgia$30,300$14.39
Hawaii$33,200$16.49
Idaho$27,500$13.48
Illinois$36,100$17.79
Indiana$35,200$32.82
Iowa$27,900$13.47
Kansas$26,300$12.83
Kentucky$39,900$19.38
Louisiana$26,200$12.72
Maine$25,700$12.42
Maryland$26,200$12.69
Massachusetts$36,800$17.82
Michigan$27,800$13.49
Minnesota$34,400$16.58
Mississippi$26,800$13.07
Missouri$28,700$13.78
Montana$26,900$13.11
Nebraska$31,200$15.28
Nevada$29,100$14.43
New Hampshire$33,700$16.32
New Jersey$27,400$13.42
New Mexico$34,100$16.71
New York$38,500$19.02
North Carolina$26,800$13.09
North Dakota$30,100$14.84
Ohio$26,300$12.93
Oklahoma$29,200$14.84
Oregon$27,300$13.42
Pennsylvania$26,800$13.15
Rhode Island$27,900$13.72
South Carolina$37,100$18.32
South Dakota$29,600$14.58
Tennessee$27,200$13.59
Texas$28,700$14.03
Utah$28,200$13.82
Vermont$29,600$14.75
Virginia$31,300$15.38
Washington$39,100$19.27
West Virginia$26,800$13.02
Wisconsin$27,200$13.59
Wyoming$32,900$15.89

Job Security of Animal Trainers

Animal trainers have barely any job security at all.

In fact, many of them don’t have long-term contracts and always have to fear losing their jobs.

Since almost everyone will be able to do this job, there will be fierce competition and you may just get replaced by someone who does the same work for a cheaper price.

Consequently, I don’t suggest you become an animal trainer if job security is really important to you.

Future Job Prospects of Animal Trainers

Not only is the job market for animal trainers pretty poor right now, but it will most likely also continue to be a bad industry to work in in the near future.

Due to artificial intelligence and machine learning, many jobs will vanish in this industry in the future and the few jobs that will still be available might not be carried out by animal trainers but rather by people who just supervise the whole process.

Thus, you should not expect good future job prospects as an animal trainer and should rather do something else if you want to stay competitive in the job market in the long run.

Working Hours of Animal Trainers

Animal trainers don’t have to work long hours.

Instead, they often only work 40 hours per week and have a rather standard workweek.

Some animal trainers also only work part-time and this means that you will have a good work-life balance and lots of leisure in the animal training business.

Job Satisfaction of Animal Trainers

Working as an animal trainer can be great for you if you love to work with many different animals and spending time with animals is also your hobby.

In such a case, you can turn your passion into a job and can spend your time in a nice manner while still making money at the same time.

In fact, most animal trainers work in this industry since they are pretty happy with their jobs, even though they will not make as much money as most other people who work in different jobs instead.

Promotion Opportunities of Animal Trainers

There will be barely any promotion opportunities for animal trainers.

In fact, you will do the same things that you did right at the beginning of your career many years or even decades from now and it can be really frustrating to not seeing any progress in your career, even though you might try everything you can and put lots of effort into your job.

Career Levels of Animal Trainers

  • Junior animal trainer
  • Senior animal trainer
  • Seasoned animal trainer with experience with many different animals
  • Animal training business owner

Fields and Types of Animal Trainers

  • Dog trainer
  • Horse trainer
  • Bird trainer
  • Dolphin trainer
  • Animal trainer in a zoo
  • Animal trainer at the police
  • Animal trainer for rescue purposes

Educational Requirements of Animal Trainers

In most states, you don’t need a degree for becoming an animal trainer.

It will be enough to finish high school and to apply for jobs in the animal training industry.

However, in some cases, you might need a bachelor’s degree in biology or similar fields.

How to become an Animal Trainer

  1. Inform yourself about the advantages and disadvantages of being an animal trainer
  2. Make an internship as an animal trainer
  3. Make connections to animal training businesses
  4. Focus on school to get good grades
  5. Apply at animal training job vacancies
  6. Be flexible regarding where you want to work for your first job
  7. Gain experience in the animal training industry
  8. Become a real expert
  9. Start your own personal brand

Character Traits you need for working as an Animal Trainer

  • Patience
  • Passion for working with animals
  • You need to be flexible as an animal trainer
  • Willingness to deal with difficult clients
  • You should not be afraid to work with animals
  • Strong mindset can be helpful
  • You need to be responsible as an animal trainer
  • Trustworthiness is key in this industry
  • You need to build a strong reputation

Hard Skills for being an Animal Trainer

  • Good knowledge about the behavior of animals
  • Knowledge about laws and regulations in the animal training industry
  • Ability to tell what certain behavioral signs mean
  • You need to see when additional training will not deliver great results anymore
  • It is on you to make the decision to take breaks once animals are tired
  • You need a certain connection with animals to succeed in this job
  • You should be willing to expand your knowledge every day

Soft Skills for being an Animal Trainer

  • Excellent communication skills, both with animals and clients
  • You should be open for new approaches to animal teaching
  • You have to set realistic expectations for pet owners
  • You need the ability to deal with setbacks
  • Animal trainers have to deal with lots of insecurity
  • You need to calm down difficult clients
  • People have to gain trust in you
  • Excellent problem-solving skills required
  • Good physical condition
  • Good listening things
  • You have to watch animals carefully to see patterns
  • Teamworking skills are always needed
  • Good time management is crucial

Exit Options for Animal Trainers

There are barely any exit options for animal trainers.

Instead, most animal trainers will work in their jobs for quite a long time, either since they love their jobs or since they just don’t find companies in the corporate world that would be willing to employ them.

Animal Trainer – Similar Careers

  • Animal tamer
  • Veterinarian
  • Animal breeder
  • Animal control worker
  • Animal caretaker
  • Animal mortician
  • Animal sitter
  • Animal dresser

Animal Trainer Career FAQs

Is working as an animal trainer physically demanding?

Working as an animal trainer can be physically demanding.

While you will not have to stress your body as much as construction workers, roofers or welders, there will still be a physical component that comes along with this job and you should not become an animal trainer if you just want to sit in a chair and stare at a computer screen all day long.

Is working as an animal trainer mentally demanding?

While working as an animal trainer can be mentally demanding, you will still not have to work with your brain as much as in most other office jobs and an animal trainer career will therefore be relatively relaxed in this regard.

Is it dangerous to work as an animal trainer?

Working as an animal trainer may be dangerous in case you work with wild animals.

However, if you work with dogs or other rather calm and domesticated animals, the risk of suffering from serious health issues will be rather low for animal trainers.

Sure, dogs may bite you once in a while.

However, the damage related to this will be rather limited, especially if you get proper vaccinations and don’t have to fear catching a serious disease.

How long do animal trainers stay in their jobs?

Animal trainers often stay in their jobs for quite a long time since there is simply a lack of job alternatives.

Many animal trainers also just love what they do for a living and don’t even consider working in a different field.

Is it easy for animal trainers to find a new job?

It is relatively hard for animal trainers to find a new job.

This is due to the fact that almost everyone can become an animal trainer and therefore, many people apply for a single job.

In turn, chances for getting the rare jobs in this field will be rather low for each individual.

Is it hard to switch from being an animal trainer to another field of work?

It is pretty hard for animal trainers to find a job in a different industry.

Quite often, you will just not learn many skills that are needed in the corporate world right now and may therefore get stuck in the animal training business for years or even decades.

Do animal trainers have a high social status?

Animal trainers don’t have a high social status.

Since you will not save lives or do other important things for society, people will often belittle what you do for a living and you may have to deal with many snarky comments in this regard.

Can you help out your family and friends as an animal trainer?

If you are a specialist in training dogs or other pets your family and friends might keep at home, you can also help out your loved ones quite a lot since you can give them helpful advice on how to train their dogs in an efficient manner while many other people out there will really struggle to keep their dogs under control.

Can animal trainers work remotely?

Animal trainers can’t work from home.

Instead, they have to be present at work in person and will therefore not have the same high level of flexibility as people who can work remotely for at least a few days per month and have an easier time managing their private and their professional life at the same time.

Is it easy to find a partner as an animal trainer?

Since you will not make much money and also don’t have a high social standing, you may also have problems finding a partner as an animal trainer.

In fact, while doctors, lawyers or bankers will have a pretty easy time in this regard, you may really struggle to find a long-term partner as an animal trainer.

Do animal trainers have to work on weekends?

Animal trainers don’t have to work on weekends most of the time.

However, you could still make additional money on the side if you are willing to put in the extra hours and work instead of enjoying your leisure.

Do I have to work at nighttime as an animal trainer?

You don’t have to work in the evening or at nighttime as an animal trainer most of the time.

Instead, you will have a rather standard workday and will often get to work between 7 and 9 a.m. and leave your workplace between 5 and 6 p.m.

Do you have to travel as an animal trainer?

There is no need to travel as an animal trainer.

If you have enough clients in your region, you can work as an animal trainer without the need to travel at all and you can therefore spend more precious time with your loved ones at home.

Are animal trainer pensions good?

Since animal trainers often don’t make much money, also their pensions will be rather poor.

Moreover, since animal trainers will have to spend almost all of their income on basic things, there might not be enough money left to save and invest.

In turn, many animal trainers may also struggle financially once they get older and quit their active careers.

Are animal trainer salaries going up?

Animal trainer salaries have barely gone up over the past years and this trend will likely continue in the future since almost everyone can do this job but there is a rather limited number of jobs in this field.

Consequently, wages are not likely to increase much in the animal training industry.

Can you have a positive effect on society as an animal trainer?

While you can do good for animals, you will not have a real positive effect on society as an animal trainer compared to teachers or other people who work with people and who are able to shape them in a desirable manner.

How long does it take to become an animal trainer?

Since you will not need a degree for working as an animal trainer most of the time, you can become an animal trainer relatively quickly.

In fact, you can start your animal training career right after finishing high school and you may even be able to make money from the beginning while many of your friends may financially struggle to finance their degree.

Is it difficult to become an animal trainer?

Becoming an animal trainer is not that difficult since you often don’t need a degree or any additional qualifications.

However, staying in this field for quite a long time is the thing that’s more difficult since competition is fierce and you might just get replaced by someone else from one day to the other.

Do you need to be smart to work as an animal trainer?

You don’t need to have a high IQ for working as an animal trainer.

What’s much more important is that you care for animals and that you really have a passion for spending time with them.

In fact, your willingness to work hard is much more important in this field than getting a fancy degree on paper.

Do animal trainers have a good work-life balance?

Since animal trainers don’t have to work long hours and have a rather standard workweek, most of them also report a pretty decent work-life balance and some animal trainers would even be willing to work more.

Therefore, becoming an animal trainer can make quite a lot of sense for you in case you want to have enough leisure while still following your passion at the same time.

Do animal trainers have to work on holidays?

Animal trainers don’t have to work on holidays.

However, you could still make additional money if you are willing to work during those days and this gives you a high level of flexibility since you can adjust your working hours to your financial demands, especially in case you work as a self-employed animal trainer.

How many hours do animal trainers have to work?

Animal trainers don’t have to work many hours.

In fact, most animal trainers don’t work more than 40 hours per week and some of them even only work part-time.

Hence, a career as an animal trainer can make quite a lot of sense for you if money is not that important to you but you rather want to have lots of leisure instead.

Do animal trainers have to work many extra hours?

Animal trainers don’t work many extra hours.

Instead, they have a pretty relaxed workweek, at least if they work as a regular employee.

Of course, if you have your own animal training business, you may have to work much more since you will have to do lots of organizational stuff.

How to maximize your chances of becoming an animal trainer?

If you want to maximize your chances of becoming an animal trainer, you should make contacts and build a strong network relatively early.

You can do so by just reaching out to experts and companies in this industry.

You can also volunteer or work as an intern for a few months to gain your first experience in this field and to have better chances for a full-time occupation.

Do animal trainers work indoors or outdoors?

Animal trainers work both indoors and outdoors, depending on the animal you have to train and also on the climatic conditions outdoors.

Hence, you should be willing to also work during times of bad weather outdoors and if this bothers you, you should not become an animal trainer and rather go for a different career instead.

Job alternatives to becoming an animal trainer

If you no longer want to become an animal trainer, you could also aspire to a career as an animal breeder, animal tamer, veterinarian or just open a pet hotel.

What does the workplace of an animal trainer look like?

Since animal trainers will work with many different animals, it is hard to tell what the workplace of an animal trainer looks like.

If you work with a horse, you will spend plenty of time in the horse barn.

However, if you work with a dog, you will rather go for a walk in the park and teach it tricks.

Do you have to look good for working as an animal trainer?

There is no need to look good as an animal trainer.

It is much more important that you have decent knowledge of what you are doing and that people trust in your abilities.

If this is the case, your clients will barely care about your looks at all.

Is an animal trainer career beneficial for your private life?

Since animal trainers have pretty decent work-life balance, this career can be beneficial for your private life since you will have more than enough time to spend with your loved ones and to build a really strong connection with your kids.

Do you need a college degree for becoming an animal trainer?

You don’t need a college degree for working as an animal trainer most of the time.

Getting a high school diploma will often be enough for working in this field and you therefore don’t have to spend lots of time and money on college.

Do you need to be certified to work as an animal trainer?

While certifications and additional courses may help you find a job in the animal training industry, it is not a necessity to do these things.

Instead, you can also work as an animal trainer without getting additional certifications or schooling, especially if you are able to build a strong network of people who can help you find a job in this field.

How much does it cost to become an animal trainer?

Since you will not have to go to college for becoming an animal trainer, you can start working in this field at barely any cost.

In fact, barriers to entry are quite low in this field and almost everyone can start a career as an animal trainer.

Is being an animal trainer a good career?

While working as an animal trainer can be great for you if you love to spend time with animals, you will still not make much money from what you are doing and some animal trainers even have to work in a second job to survive.

Is it easy to start your own business as an animal trainer?

Starting a business in the animal training industry is not that hard since you will not have to make a huge upfront investment.

Instead, you can start out with limited equipment as a one-man show and can expand later once you have build trust with clients.

Can you provide for your family by working as an animal trainer?

Most animal trainers barely make more than the minimum wage.

Hence, it is pretty difficult to provide for your family as an animal trainer and you may therefore have to work in a second job to assure that your loved ones have everything they need.

Will animal trainers suffer from old-age poverty?

Animal trainers are at great risk to suffer from old-age poverty since they will not make much money and will therefore not get a good pension.

Moreover, they will often also not be able to save and invest enough money and many animal trainers therefore struggle once to get to retirement age.

Can you get rich as an animal trainer?

Animal trainers will not get rich at all.

Instead, many of them will even struggle to pay their basic bills and may need a second or even a third job.

In fact, your animal trainer salary will often not be able to cover your expenses, especially if you live in an expensive region.

Do you get continuous training as an animal trainer?

Animal trainers often don’t get continuous training.

Consequently, if you still want to get really good at what you are doing, you have to inform and expand your knowledge in this field yourself instead of relying on your employer in this regard.

Are animal trainers organized in unions?

There are no official big animal trainer unions.

Consequently, wages in this field are quite low and most animal trainers therefore struggle to pay rent and other basic expenses to afford a decent lifestyle.

Do you get paid when you are sick as an animal trainer?

Sick pay is almost non-existent for animal trainers.

In fact, most animal trainers don’t get paid at all in case they don’t work and this means that you would have to get to work sick if you really need the income from your job.

Do animal trainers have a high level of responsibility?

While animal trainers don’t have the same high level of responsibility as doctors whose mistakes could cost human lives, you will still have a decent level of responsibility as an animal trainer since animal owners will entrust you their loved little friends and expect that you care for them well.

Can you work abroad as an animal trainer?

Working abroad is definitely possible as an animal trainer.

However, before you make plans lightly, make sure to inform yourself about the requirements of the country and employers who are offering jobs in the specific country you want to go to.

Is it stressful to work as an animal trainer?

Working as an animal trainer is not that stressful compared to most other jobs out there.

You will also get lots of fresh air and this can be really relaxing, at least compared to working in an artificial office environment.

Is it boring to work as an animal trainer?

Since you will be working with many different animals, you will barely get bored with your job as an animal trainer.

Especially if you have a real passion for what you are doing, working as an animal trainer will never get boring.

Instead, you will be excited to get up in the morning to get to work as soon as possible.

Is being an animal trainer hard?

Working as an animal trainer is not that hard.

Sure, you will have to deal with difficult clients from time to time.

However, if you love working with animals, this can compensate for the annoying things you might also have to do.

Is there a dress code for animal trainers?

There is no dress code for animal trainers.

Instead, you can wear whatever you feel most comfortable in and you will not have to wear suits or conservative costumes as in many other jobs out there.

What kind of animal trainers are paid the most?

As an animal trainer, you get paid the most if you have expertise with animals many people search help for and if you also have rare skills not many other people can offer to their clients.

Hence, make sure to improve your knowledge as best as possible so that you can get paid a wage that is far above average for normal animal trainers.

What percentage of animal trainers are women?

Animal training is an industry that is dominated by women.

In fact, about 80% of all animal trainers are women and only 20% are men.

However, this doesn’t mean that your chances to work in this industry are poor if you are a man. It just means that this job is more popular among women.

Do I need a mentor to succeed in the animal trainer industry?

You don’t need a mentor to succeed in the animal training business.

What’s much more important is that you have decent skills and know what you are doing.

Only then will clients come back to you and also recommend your services to their friends.

Do animal trainers have a high life expectancy?

Since working as an animal trainer is not that dangerous and you will also get lots of fresh air, your overall life expectancy will be pretty high.

You will also not have a high stress level at work and this will lower your risk of suffering from serious cardiovascular diseases that are responsible for a low life expectancy in many other occupations.

Do animal trainers suffer from sleeping problems?

Since animal trainers work during the day and don’t work during nighttime, most animal trainers don’t suffer from sleeping problems and in case they do, it will most often still have nothing to do with their jobs but rather with other issues they might have in life.

What states are best for working as an animal trainer?

California is a great state for working as an animal trainer since you will be able to make one of the highest salaries in the US and will also be able to spend lots of time outdoors to enjoy the nice weather.

What are the pros and cons of working as an animal trainer?

Before you decide for becoming an animal trainer, also make sure to have a look at the pros and cons of an animal trainer career.

Sources

https://www.statista.com/statistics/608289/perceived-quality-training-courses-pet-facilities-in-italy/

https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes392011.htm

Interviews and own research.

About the author

My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people about the different career paths that are possible in our current state of the world. In my opinion, people often make the mistake to choose their profession solely based on how much money they can earn from it instead of doing what makes them really happy.

This is quite sad and I just want to give people a more objective picture of how a fulfilling career could look like. I did the same when I started working in consulting after finishing my Master’s degree in Economics. However, I’ve quit pretty soon after that since I haven’t found true meaning in my job.

Now I can do what I really love to do and I want to enable as many other people as well to go this exciting path towards happiness instead of money.

I conducted various interviews with employees to give you a good impression of what working in different fields will look like and that you can make the best possible decision regarding your future career choice.

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