Education and Training Required to Become an Animal Trainer

Posted in Career Blog

The first step toward becoming an animal trainer is for an individual to identify what type of animals he or she would like to work with. That decision will ultimately affect the steps that are taken in order to reach one’s goals.

High School Animal Trainer Courses
High school classes in biology can help those who want to become animal trainers learn about the anatomy and development of different species. While in high school, it can also be helpful to take classes that teach communications skills. Businesses courses could be useful to an animal trainer since many work as independent contractors or run their own animal training businesses. Teens may also want to seek employment at a pet store, animal shelter or veterinary clinic in order to learn more about the animals they someday hope to train.

Certificate Programs for Dog Training
Dog trainers can become certified by taking a training course offered by many vocational schools. This certification can take up to six months to earn and will focus on things such as canine behavior, dog training basics and effective problem solving techniques. Some time will be spent at a shelter working with abandoned animals. The cost of this training certificate is between $3,400 to $4,100, which includes tuition, fees and related materials.

Equine Training Programs
Equine training programs are a bit more complex and can require between two and four years of college work. Some of the classes that could be required include natural horsemanship, equine nutrition, equine behavior and equine-assisted therapy. Much of this animal trainer training will take place inside stables while performing practical hands-on applications. The cost of one of these degrees can be between $5,300 and $14,800 per year with an annual fee of $1,500 for use of training facilities.

Marine Animal Trainer
In order to become a marine animal trainer, a four-year degree in marine biology is usually required. Some courses that can be required in order to earn this degree include conservation biology, physiology, and marine psychology. In addition, marine animal trainers must be strong swimmers and know how to scuba dive, so training as a lifeguard and diving instructor can also be helpful. The cost of a Bachelor’s degree can be between $11,200 and $28,500 for tuition and housing, with books and fees adding an additional $1,400 to $2,100 to that number. The cost of lifeguard training is approximately $124, while the cost of becoming a certified scuba diver can be between $400 and $600.

Employment and Volunteer Training Opportunities
Those who wish to become animal trainers can sometimes benefit from volunteering at various organizations that handle animals. Those wishing to become dog trainers could work at animal shelters, police canine training facilities or organizations that provide seeing-eye dogs. Aspiring horse trainers could work at boarding facilities or on a farm. Individuals who hope to train marine animals might want to volunteer at a zoo or aquarium in order to gain exposure to these creatures.
Animal trainers can work with many different species, which means the type of animal trainer education they pursue can be different for everyone. It can take anywhere from a few months to a few years to become one.

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