Is becoming an animal trainer right for me?

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What do animal trainers do?
Career Satisfaction
Are animal trainers happy with their careers?
What are animal trainers like?

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How to become an Animal Trainer

Becoming an animal trainer typically requires a combination of education, experience, and specialized training. Here are some steps you can take if you are interested in becoming an animal trainer:

  • Get a high school diploma: Most animal trainer positions require at least a high school diploma or equivalent. Courses in biology, animal behavior, and psychology can be particularly helpful.
  • Get a college degree: While a degree is not always required, having a bachelor's degree in a related field such as animal sciences, biology, or zoology can be beneficial. A degree can provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to succeed in a career as an animal trainer.
  • Gain experience with animals: Animal trainers often begin their careers by working with animals in a variety of settings, such as zoos, animal shelters, or kennels. Volunteering or interning with these organizations can be a great way to gain valuable experience and build your resume.
  • Get specialized training: Many animal trainers pursue additional training in areas such as animal behavior, training techniques, and positive reinforcement methods. Certification programs offered by organizations such as the Animal Behavior Society or the International Marine Animal Trainers Association can also be beneficial.
  • Build a network: Networking with other animal trainers, veterinarians, and animal welfare professionals can help you learn about job opportunities and build your reputation in the industry.
  • Apply for animal trainer positions: Once you have gained the necessary education and experience, you can begin applying for animal trainer positions in a variety of settings. Remember to tailor your resume and cover letter to each position you apply for, highlighting your skills and experience that are most relevant to the job.

Certifications and Training
The certifications and training required for animal trainers can vary depending on the type of animal they work with and their specific area of expertise. Here are some of the most common certifications and training programs for animal trainers:

  • Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) - The CCPDT is one of the leading certifying bodies for dog trainers. They offer three levels of certification: Knowledge Assessed (KA), Skills Assessed (SA), and the highest level, Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA).
  • International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) - The IAABC is a membership organization for animal behavior consultants and trainers. They offer certifications in various areas of animal training, including dog training, cat behavior consulting, and horse behavior consulting.
  • Karen Pryor Academy - The Karen Pryor Academy offers a comprehensive dog training program that includes online coursework, hands-on training, and mentorship. Graduates of the program earn the title of Certified Training Partner (CTP).
  • Certification in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) - The ABA certification is designed for professionals who work with individuals with autism or other developmental disabilities, but it can also be useful for animal trainers. ABA focuses on the principles of behavior, reinforcement, and behavior change.
  • Certified Professional Bird Trainer (CPBT-KA) - The International Avian Trainers Certification Board (IATCB) offers a certification for bird trainers. This certification requires passing a written exam and demonstrating practical skills in bird training.
  • Marine Mammal Trainer - Marine mammal trainers typically work with dolphins, whales, and seals. They often have a degree in marine biology or a related field and complete specialized training programs offered by facilities such as SeaWorld or the National Marine Mammal Foundation.