Animal Caretakers
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Overview
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Feed, water, groom, bathe, exercise, or otherwise provide care to promote and maintain the well-being of pets and other animals that are not raised for consumption, such as dogs, cats, race horses, ornamental fish or birds, zoo animals, and mice. Work in settings such as kennels, animal shelters, zoos, circuses, and aquariums. May keep records of feedings, treatments, and animals received or discharged. May clean, disinfect, and repair cages, pens, or fish tanks.
Titles for this career often contain these words
AnimalDogKennelCarePetKeeperWorkerCaretakerAttendantRaiserSitterGroomerTechnicianFeederCatPoundWalkerAssistantTakerRehabilitatorBirdBatherZooGiverACGServiceHandlerHealthNurseryShelterAquaristAquariumTankTenderCanaryBarberBeauticianBoarderDaycareHairClipperFarrierGroomingHotAideHelperOperatorTechLeadPonyRiderMammalogistMiceMonkeyParakeetSpecialistStylistPoundmasterReptileRingmanStockWildWildlifeZookeeper
Education
Only 20% of animal caretakers have a bachelor's degree or higher.
Education attained by animal caretakers
None
High School
Some College
Associate's/Cert.
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Degree
Doctorate
Context: workers with bachelor's degrees
This is near the middle of all careeers' percentages of bachelor's holders.
Employment
Workforce size
Animal caretakers, with 285,600 workers, form a larger workforce than 82% of careers.
Predicted employment growth
Over the next decade, jobs for animal caretakers are expected to grow by 16%, and should have about 54,500 job openings a year.
Safety from automation
Animal caretakers are more likely to be automated than 62% of other careers.
Salaries
Context: Median Salary
How do salaries for animal caretakers compare to other jobs' salaries?
Distribution: What salary can you expect?
See what most animal caretakers earn.
$25K$0$10K$20K$30K$40K
Gender
Women account for 71% of animal caretakers -- that's a larger percentage than 81% of other jobs.
Gender of animal caretakers
Men
Women
Context: Salary inequity
For each career, we compared the median (middle) men's salary to the median women's salary. For animal caretakers, the median men's salary was 12% more the median woman's salary.
Race/Origin
About 11% of animal caretakers are minority, and 10% are foreign-born.
Race/origin of animal caretakers
White
Black
Pacific Islander
Hispanic
Asian
American Indian
Multiracial
Other
Context: Foreign-born workers (10%)
Where are the most jobs?
We ranked the number of jobs in Animal Caretakers per thousand workers in each state, DC, and Puerto Rico. Blue indicates low density, with lighter shades moving to yellow indicating higher numbers working in this profession.
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Benefits
How do benefits for this career compare to other jobs?
Context: Employer offers health insurance
Context: Employer offers a pension plan
Worker concerns
Some jobs are more stressful than others, and some are just plain dangerous. The following list gives the percentages of animal caretakers who report hazardous or difficult situations typically occurring at least once a week.
  • Exposed to Contaminants (66%)
  • Exposed to Minor Burns, Cuts, Bites, or Stings (64%)
  • Time Pressure (57%)
  • Exposed to Disease or Infections (56%)
  • Consequence of Error (49%)
  • Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People (45%)
  • Frequency of Conflict Situations (44%)
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety (39%)
  • Exposed to Hazardous Conditions (33%)
SOURCES:
Salary and diversity
What do animal caretakers earn?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides company-reported job titles and corresonding salaries. This data excludes self-employed workers.
Distribution: Salaries for animal caretakers (BLS Salary Data)
$25K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Context: Median salaries across careers (BLS Salary Data)
$25K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
The American Community Survey (ACS) asks individuals to report their occupation and salary, and as such includes self-employed workers.
Distribution: Salaries for animal caretakers (ACS Salary Data)
$25K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Context: Median salaries across careers (ACS Salary Data)
$25K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Animal Caretakers: Inflation-adjusted salary trend
This job's median $26KAll jobs' median $45K$27K$44K070809101112131415161718$0$20K$40K$60K
A look at employers and corresponding salaries
The donut shares the break-down of workers by employer type, giving us a picture of what employers most typically hire animal caretakers.
Employers of Animal Caretakers (ACS)
Private for-profit (57.3%)
Private not-for-profit (10.4%)
Local government (2.6%)
State government (1.3%)
Federal government (0.6%)
Self-employed incorporated (7.2%)
Self-employed not incorporated (20.4%)
Working without pay (0.3%)
Distribution: Salaries of animal caretakers by type of employer (ACS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type calculated by aggregating individual household survey responses.
$25K$23K$32K$27K$24K$31K$39K$0$20,000$40,000$60,000$80,000$100,000Self-employed not incorporatedSelf-employed incorporatedFederal governmentLocal governmentPrivate not-for-profitPrivate for-profitAll
Distribution: Salaries of animal caretakers 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.
$25K$0$10,000$20,000$30,000$40,000All

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Salary growth for animal caretakers

Is this a job that rewards experience, or is this job most likely a part of a career ladder? The higher a job's experience quotient, the more experience is rewarded with pay increases. Jobs in the green range have the best rewards with experience.

Take a minute to look at how much you might expect your salary to increase with each five years' experience, as well as how the numbers working at each age change. Does this seem to be a job for the young or the old, or could it be a career offering steady salary growth for many years?

Salary distribution
$29K$25K$29K$29K$19K$27K$26K$28K$31K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64
Number employed
010K20K30K20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Animal caretakers and gender

With 71% women, this occupation has a higher percentage of women than 81% of careers.

Context: Women in the workforce
71%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Gender of Animal caretakers
Men (29%)
Women (71%)
Distribution: Salaries by gender

The median salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 19%. The situation is a little better for animal caretakers, with the median salary for men 12% higher than the median salary for women.

$24K$26K$0$20K$40K$60K$80KWomenMen
Context: Salary Inequity

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 all but about 20 jobs in which women typically earn more than men. Animal caretakers have one of the smaller inequity calculations, with the increase for men's median salary over women's median salary in this job lower than that for 62% of other jobs.

12%0%20%40%60%80%100%

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Race and origin of animal caretakers

Here we check out the diversity of origin in this career. There is a smaller percentage of minority animal caretakers than for 91% 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 caretakers
White (85% )
Black (5% )
Other (5% )
Multiracial (3% )
Asian (2% )
Hispanic (1% )
American Indian (1% )
Pacific Islander (0% )
Context: Representation of minorities in the workforce
11%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Context: Representation of foreign-born workers
10%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Distribution: Salaries for animal caretakers 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.

$23K$23K$25K$25K$31K$0$20K$40K$60K$80KBlackOtherWhiteHispanicAsian
Distribution: Salaries for animal caretakers by nativity
$25K$26K$0$20K$40K$60KAll native citizensAll foreign-born

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Animal caretakers and Part-time/Full-time employment

We've found that somes jobs hava a huge number of part-time workers, and that typically most who are working part-time are doing so because they cannot find full-time work or the job they have cannot provide full-time hours. With 44% part-time workers, this occupation has a higher percentage of part-time workers than 93% of careers.

Context: Part-time workers in the workforce
44%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Why workers are part-time
Full-Time is less than 35 hours a week
Retired/Social Security limit on earnings
Could not find full-time work
Seasonal work
Slack work/business conditions
School/training
Health/medical limitations
Child care problems
Other family/personal obligations
Other reasons
Distribution: Salaries by part-time/full-time status

The salary distributions for full-time and part-time animal caretakers is shown following.

$9K$25K$0$20K$40K$60KPart-time workersFull-time workers
Pathways to this career
Education attained by animal caretakers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), animal caretakers 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 caretakers as reported in responses to the American Community Survey.

Details: Education and training recommended for animal caretakers

Animal care and service workers typically need 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 zookeepers to have a bachelor’s degree in biology, animal science, or a related field.

Details: Licensing and certification recommended for animal caretakers

Although not required, certifications may help workers establish their credentials and enhance their skills. For example, professional associations and 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.

Education attained by animal caretakers
None
High School
Some College
Associate's/Cert.
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Degree
Doctorate
Distribution: Salary by education level

What level of education is truly needed for animal caretakers? Below we see the distribution of animal caretakers salaries based on the education attained.

$22K$24K$23K$26K$28K$26K$0$20K$40K$60K$80KNone (8%)High School (34%)Some College (29%)Associate's/Cert. (10%)Bachelor's Degree (17%)Master's Degree (2%)

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

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

Number of degrees awarded in 2017
Education
Education level of awarded degrees
Associate's degree or certificate
Bachelor's
Graduate
Gender
Gender of graduates
Men
Women
Race/Origin
Race/origin of graduates
White
Minority
International
Switching Careers
The most common next careers for animal caretakers

What jobs will most animal caretakers 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 caretakers reported holding in their second year's survey. Is your future job on this list?

Animal CaretakersHealth Technologists and TechniciansMedical assistants and other healthcare support occupationsFirst-Line Supervisors of Personal Care and Service WorkersRetail SalespersonsCustomer Service Representatives
Lateral job transitions for animal caretakers

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 3 jobs which were held by at least 1% of survey respondents before working as animal caretakers as well as 1% of respondents after working as animal caretakers. Select a row to investigate the job's full description and determine if it truly offers an opportunity for a lateral transition.

Employed
How many people have this job?
Salary
Salary distribution for people in this occupation. Range is 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
No degree
Associate's/Cert.
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate/Professional
Gender
Men
Women
Prior and next careers for animal caretakers: full listings

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

Choose which type of transition to view
Prior jobs
Next jobs
Employed
How many people have this job?
Salary
Salary distribution for people in this occupation. Range is 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
No degree
Associate's/Cert.
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate/Professional
Gender
Men
Women
Percentage Transitioning
What percentage worked in this job the previous year?
Variation by state
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 caretakers? 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 caretakers. 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 Caretakers per 1,000 workers (BLS)
Select a state to see local area details
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0.00.51.01.52.0
Salaries by state
Let's get a feel for where animal caretakers 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 caretakers compared to the median salary for all people working in each state, or
  • Median salary: the unaltered median salaries for animal caretakers.

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
Location-adjusted median salary
Median salary
Use this data source
BLS
Location-adjusted median salary for Animal Caretakers (BLS)
The darkest shading corresponds to states in which animal caretakers 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
AKMEWIVTNHWAIDMTNDMNILMINYMAORUTWYSDIAINOHPANJCTRICANVCONEMOKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
$0$10K$20K$30K
Compare to similar jobs

If this job interests you, then use the tabs and education selector to find other careers that might be a good fit for you.

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?
Choose the similarity measure to compare careers
Interests
Environment
Knowledge
Physical Abilities
Jobs that are similar by Interests with
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