Animal trainers
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Overview
Animal care and service workers provide care for animals. They feed, groom, bathe, and exercise pets and other nonfarm animals.
Predicted employment growth
Over the next decade, jobs for animal trainers are expected to grow by 11%, and should have about 8,200 job openings a year.
Safety from automation
Animal trainers are less likely to be automated than 75% of other careers.
Workforce size
Animal trainers, with 54,900 workers, are near the middle of all careers in the number employed.
Education
Only 27% of animal trainers have a bachelor's degree or higher.
Education attained by animal trainers
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Context: workers with bachelor's degrees
This is near the middle of all careeers' percentages of bachelor's holders.
Salaries
The median (middle) salary for 87% of all other jobs is higher than the middle salary for animal trainers. The graph shows inflation-adjusted salaries for most animal trainers.
This job's median $29KAll jobs' median $39K$28K$38K20142015201620172018$0$10K$20K$30K$40K$50K
Context: Median Salary
Gender
Women account for 53% of animal trainers -- that's a larger percentage than 67% of other jobs.
Gender of animal trainers
Men
Women
Context: Salary inequity
For each career, we compared the median (middle) men's salary to the median women's salary. For animal trainers, the median men's salary was 20% more the median woman's salary.
Race/Origin
About 7% of animal trainers are minority, and 9% are foreign-born.
Race/origin of animal trainers
White
Black
Pacific Islander
Hispanic
Asian
American Indian
Multiracial
Other
Context: Foreign-born workers (9%)
Where are the most jobs?
We ranked the number of jobs in Animal Trainers per thousand workers in each state, DC, and Puerto Rico. The darker the blue, the higher the job density.
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
Job benefits
Employer or union-sponsored pension plans are offered to 18% of animal trainers, and 14% have company-sponsored health insurance (22% have dependents enrolled in their employer's health plan).
Employer-provided health coverage for animal trainers
100% premiums covered
Partial premiums covered
Plan with no cost sharing
No health insurance
The downside
Some jobs are more stressful than others, and some are just plain dangerous. The following list gives the percentages of animal trainers who report hazardous or difficult situations typically occurring at least once a week.
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety (66%)
  • Exposed to Minor Burns, Cuts, Bites, or Stings (47%)
  • Time Pressure (44%)
  • Frequency of Conflict Situations (33%)
SOURCES:24.0 O*NET
Salary and diversity
Salary overview
What do animal trainers earn?

In this section, we want to give you a clear idea of what you can expect to earn in this career. We use two sources of data here: the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which asks employers to classify their workforce and to report salaries using the SOC-specialty level of reporting, and the American Community Survey (ACS), which asks people to classify their jobs using the broad classifications that ididio uses for career profiles, and to self-report their salaries. For some jobs, the differences in survey approaches between BLS and ACS can paint a very different end-picture. Whenever possible, we provide data from both sources.

The BLS-compiled salary data is reported by companies for their employees. This data excludes self-employed workers. We first show the distribution of salaries for animal trainers, and then we show how the middle (median) salary for animal trainers compares to the BLS-computed median salaries of other careers.
Distribution: Salaries for animal trainers (BLS Salary Data)
$29K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Context: Median salaries across careers (BLS Salary Data)
$29K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
We compiled household data from the ACS to determine the salaries that people working at least 35 hours a week report themselves to earn. Unlike the BLS estimates, this data includes self-employed wages. We first show the full salary distribution for all animal trainers, and then we show how the median (middle) salary for animal trainers compares to the median ACS-reported salary of other careers.
Distribution: Salaries for animal trainers (ACS Salary Data)
$28K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Context: Median salaries across careers (ACS Salary Data)
$28K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Employers and salary
A look at employers and corresponding salaries
The donut shares the break-down of workers by employer type, and following we show the salary distributions for these workers based on those employer types. For some careers, the salaries can be vastly different between private, government, and self-employment. As with our salary overview, we view the both the BLS economists' salary profiles and the household-reported salaries from ACS to get a thorough understanding of where animal trainers work and for what salary. We have the great faith in the accuracy of economist-vetted BLS data; however, the BLS restrictions on which employers are surveyed skews the data a bit (read more in the sources), and the ACS responses provide different and useful categorizations of employers and salaries.
Employers of Animal trainers (ACS)
Private for-profit (40.6%)
Private not-for-profit (3.6%)
Local government (0.7%)
State government (0.9%)
Federal government (2.5%)
Self-employed incorporated (15.2%)
Self-employed not incorporated (35.6%)
Working without pay (0.9%)
Distribution: Salaries of animal trainers by type of employer (ACS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type calculated by aggregating individual household survey responses.
$28K$31K$29K$26K$31K$0$20,000$40,000$60,000$80,000Self-employed not incorporatedSelf-employed incorporatedPrivate not-for-profitPrivate for-profitAll
Distribution: Salaries of animal trainers by type of employer (BLS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type as reported by BLS based on large employer-focused surveys. We note that smaller employer categories are not included by BLS.
$29K$32K$29K$0$20,000$40,000$60,000$80,000Local governmentPrivateAll
Age and career advancement
Salary growth for animal trainers

The biggest take-away from the following two charts is the relationship between salary and experience that we can infer from age. Does this job seem to attract especially younger or older workers? Does it reward experience?

Take a minute a look at how much you might expect your salary to increase with each five years' experience, as well as how the numbers working in this career changes. We only provide this data when there are enough consistent ACS survey responses to allow a reasonable margin of error, so for some careers you will see gaps in our reporting of salary by age.

$34K$31K$25K$31K$31K$19K$30K$30K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100KSalary distribution20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64
01K2K3K4K5KNumber employed20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Gender and Equity
Animal trainers and gender

With 53% women, this occupation has a higher percentage of women than 67% of careers.

Context: Women in the workforce
53%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Gender of Animal trainers
Men (47%)
Women (53%)
Distribution: Salaries by gender

As we'll illustrate at the bottom of this section, the median salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 20%. The situation is a little better for animal trainers, with the median salary for men 20% higher than the median salary for women. This chart shows you the salary range for most workers by gender.

$26K$31K$0$20K$40K$60K$80KWomenMen
Context: Salary Inequity

Nationwide there are twenty careers for which men do not have a higher median (middle) salary than women. The chart below shows the salary inequity, the percentage by which the median men's salary is higher than the median women's salary, for most jobs. Animal trainers have one of the higher percentage increases for men's salary, with the increase for the men's median salary over the women's median salary in this job even higher than that for 60% of other jobs.

20%0%20%40%60%80%100%

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Race/Origin
Race and origin of animal trainers

The representation of minority and foreign-born workers is quite different between careers, and the relative pay of those workers also varies significantly between careers. There is a smaller percentage of minority animal trainers than for 98% of other careers. As with minority workers, there is also a smaller percentage of foreign-born workers in this career than in most other careers.

Race/origin of animal trainers
White (91% )
Black (3% )
Other (2% )
Multiracial (2% )
Asian (1% )
Hispanic (1% )
American Indian (0% )
Pacific Islander (0% )
Context: Representation of minorities in the workforce
7%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Context: Representation of foreign-born workers
9%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Distribution: Salaries for animal trainers by race/origin

For some careers, there is a pay disparity depending on race or origin, though this is not prevalent. We calculate standard errors for all of our calculations, and when the error is high we do not show results. Therefore, for some jobs will have omitted race/origin categories.

$26K$29K$0$20K$40K$60K$80KAsianWhite
Distribution: Salaries for animal trainers by nativity
$28K$30K$0$20K$40K$60K$80KAll native citizensAll foreign-born

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Pathways to this career
Education requirements and salary
Education attained by animal trainers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), animal trainers typically hold a high school diploma or equivalent.

Sometimes the typical education identified by the BLS differs a bit from the reality of the how much education current workers actually have. The donut shows the education level held by people currently working as animal trainers as reported in responses to the American Community Survey. Following, we investigate whether education level influences salary for animal trainers.

Education attained by animal trainers
None
High School
Some College
Associate's Degree
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Deg/Doct
Doctorate
Details: Education and training recommended for animal trainers

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.

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 may take courses at community colleges or vocational and private training schools.

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

Details: Licensing and certification recommended for animal trainers

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.

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

Distribution: Salary by education level

What level of education is truly needed for animal trainers? Below we see the distribution of animal trainers salaries based on the education attained. These comparisons are based on all survey responses by those who identified themselves as animal trainers, and are not intended as a statistical analysis of salary differences that would correct for non-educational factors that could contribute to high or low earnings.

$28K$26K$26K$33K$0$20K$40K$60K$80KHigh School (30%)Some College (28%)Associate's Degree (9%)Bachelor's Degree (24%)
Certificate/degree pathways

The Department of Education recommends the following college degree programs as preparation for this career. You can click a program row to learn more about the program and explore a list of schools that offer the program.

Program
Education
Education level of awarded degrees
Less than bachelor's
bachelor's degree
Higher than bachelor's
Gender
Gender of graduates
Men
Women
Race/Origin
Race/origin of graduates
White
Minority
International
Number of degrees awarded in 2017
Equestrian Studies
1,030
Animal Training
82
Switching Careers
Most common new jobs
The most common next careers for animal trainers

What jobs will most animal trainers hold next year?

The data in this chart comes from person interviews for the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. The survey interviews households eight times over a two-year period, allowing us a glimpse into how people move from job to job. You can see more details from the results of the survey in our last tab in this section, and you can read about our methodology in our source descriptions.

Here we see all of the jobs that at least 1% of animal trainers reported holding in their second year's survey. Is your future job on this list?

Animal trainersNonfarm animal caretakersAgricultural ManagersManagers (specialized areas)Agricultural workers (specialized areas)Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance OfficersPersonal care and service workersCashiersTour and travel guidesPolice officersRegistered nursesRetail salespersonsSecretaries and administrative assistantsFinancial managersConstruction laborersSecurities, commodities, and financial services sales agentsAdvertising sales agentsNew accounts clerks
Lateral career moves
Lateral job transitions for animal trainers

A lateral career transition is a move to a job with similar pay and responsibilities. A move to such a job can offer a change of pace without an increase in stress or a decrease in pay. The following table simply identifies all 5 jobs which were held by at least 1% of survey respondents before working as animal trainers as well as 1% of respondents after working as animal trainers. Select a row to investigate the job's full description and determine if it truly offers an opportunity for a lateral transition.

Lateral-move careers for animal trainers
Annual openings
How many openings are expected each year?
Salary
Salary distribution for people in this occupation. Range is 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Gender
Men
Women
Agricultural workers (specialized areas)
129,300
$0$200K$21K
Agricultural Managers
95,600
$0$200K$39K
Managers (specialized areas)
84,000
$0$200K$72K
Nonfarm animal caretakers
48,500
$0$200K$24K
Tour and travel guides
9,700
$0$200K$25K
Full prior and next career listings
Prior and next careers for animal trainers: full listings

What do people typically do before and after they work as animal trainers? Here are the full lists of all jobs that at least 1% of animal trainers surveyed reported as holding a year earlier or later.

Choose which type of transition to view
Prior jobs
Next jobs
Prior careers for animal trainers
Annual openings
How many openings are expected each year?
Salary
Salary distribution for people in this occupation. Range is 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Gender
Men
Women
Percentage Transitioning
What percentage worked in this job the previous year?
Stock clerks and order fillers
269,400
$0$200K$26K
1.1%
Elementary and middle school teachers
164,300
$0$200K$51K
1.5%
First-line supervisors of office and administrative support workers
153,100
$0$200K$48K
1.2%
Agricultural workers (specialized areas)
129,300
$0$200K$21K
3.6%
Restaurant, lounge, and coffee shop hosts and hostesses
97,900
$0$200K$17K
1.4%
Agricultural Managers
95,600
$0$200K$39K
9.9%
Managers (specialized areas)
84,000
$0$200K$72K
1.8%
Electricians
83,100
$0$200K$49K
1.8%
Teachers and instructors (specialized areas)
55,600
$0$200K$43K
1.9%
Nonfarm animal caretakers
48,500
$0$200K$24K
3.2%
Athletes, coaches, umpires, and related workers
48,300
$0$200K$42K
4.6%
Education administrators
45,800
$0$200K$68K
1.3%
Production workers
37,400
$0$200K$32K
1.3%
Computer programmers
15,700
$0$200K$82K
1.3%
Tour and travel guides
9,700
$0$200K$25K
1.3%
First-line supervisors of gaming workers
8,300
$0$200K$44K
2.5%
Animal trainers
8,200
$0$200K$28K
48.9%
No occupation
5.5%
Read about animal trainers
Responsibilities and activities
Responsibilities and activities

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.

The following are types of animal care and service workers:

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 they train animals for a competition or show.

Groomers specialize in maintaining a pet’s appearance. Groomers typically work in kennels, veterinary clinics, or pet supply stores, 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.

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.

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.

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.

Zookeepers care for animals in zoos. They plan diets, feed animals, and monitor the animals’ eating patterns. 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.

Personality and skills
Personality and skills

Can you see yourself in the ranks of animal trainers? Here are the skills and traits that could lead to success.

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 are often responsible for keeping animals on a strict diet, maintaining records, and monitoring changes in animals’ behavior.
Patience
All animal caretakers and animal trainers need to be patient when training or working with animals that do not respond to commands.
Physical stamina
Animal care and service workers often kneel, crawl, bend, and lift 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
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.
Trends in employment
Salary trends
Distribution and trends: Salaries for animal trainers
Choose actual dollars or inflation-adjusted dollars to view
Adjusted for inflation
Historic dollars

In 2018, the median (middle) for 87% of all other jobs were higher than the median (middle) salary for animal trainers. This graphic shows how the salary distribution (adjusted for inflation) has changed for this job over recent years. The gray line, as a comparison, shows the median salary of all US workers.

This job's median $29KAll jobs' median $39K$29K$38K200420052006200720082009201020112012201320142015201620172018$0$10K$20K$30K$40K$50K
Projected versus actual employment
Exploring actual employment trends versus projected trends

Currently, jobs for animal trainers are anticipated to grow by 11% over the next decade; only 23% of jobs are predicted to grow more.

The projected employment for animal trainers is the best guess created by talented economists and statisticians at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, as you look through several careers you'll notice that the projections are heavily influenced by past performance and may miss current trends. No one can tell the future, and as new information and better techniques are developed, actual counts and future projections may change. Here's a glimpse at the actual counts versus the projections over time.

2000201020202030020,00040,00060,00080,000
Employment counts
Actual measured employment
BLS 10-year predictions
Variation by state
Employment
State-by-state employment numbers

Some careers tend to be centered in specific parts of the country. For example, most jobs in fashion are in New York or California. Let's see if your dream job is easy to find in your dream location! We have a few choices for viewing the data that can help you get a full employment picture.

Job density versus job count

Which states hire the most animal trainers? We wonder if that's a fair question since states come in all sizes, so instead let's start with the question of which states have the highest density of people working as animal trainers. You can choose to view the number of jobs per state if you prefer.

BLS vs ACS data

This map defaults to employment information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which provides job totals carefully compiled for accuracy and with a primary focus on how employers describe their workers. The BLS job totals do not count self-employed workers. We've also compiled totals using the Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) which are based on how workers describe themselves. Sometimes ACS results are quite a bit different from the employer-based BLS data.

Choose the metric to review
Jobs per 1000 working
Number of jobs
Use this data source
BLS
Number of Animal Trainers per 1,000 workers (BLS)
Select a state to see local area details
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0.00.10.20.3
Salary
Salaries by state
Let's get a feel for where animal trainers earn the highest salaries. There are several choices for which data we consider and how we view that data, and each can lead to different conclusions, so please read on...
Median salary versus state ratio

We use two methods to compare salaries across states:

  • In-state comparisons: the ratio of median (middle) salaries for animal trainers compared to the median salary for all people working in each state, or
  • Median salary: the unaltered median salaries for animal trainers.

We hope the ratio allows perspective about how salaries may compare to the regional cost-of-living.

BLS vs ACS data

We have two sources for statewide salary information with important distinctions. The BLS data is created by surveying companies, missing individuals who are self-employed or work for smaller companies. The ACS data is compiled from multi-faceted household surveys and may reflect the inconsistencies that people may have in reporting information.

Choose the metric to review
In-state comparisions
Median salary
Use this data source
BLS
Median salary ratio: Animal Trainers to all workers (BLS)
The darkest shading corresponds to states in which animal trainers earn the highest salary when compared to other jobs in the state. We think this ratio might be a better indicator than the actual salary for your buying power as a state resident.
Select a state to see local area details
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
0.00.51.01.5
Compare to similar jobs

If this job interests you, then use the dots below to find other jobs you might like. The dots closer to the top represent jobs that are like Animal trainers (shown with a blue star). Look for the dots to the right to find the best salaries! (We pulled salary data from BLS, and they give a top salary value of just over $200K to protect privacy, so our graph would go much higher if the salaries were not top coded.)

How should the career similarity be computed

There are a number of ways to measure the similarity of jobs, here are a few we provide:

  • Interests: Also known as a Holland Code - Are you a thinker? A helper? What fits your personality?
  • Environment: Are there hazards? Will you be comfortable? Will it be stressful?
  • Knowledge: What do you need to know the most about?
  • Physical Abilities: Do you need to especially strong or coordinated?
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