Dog trainers work closely with people as well as dogs, so the ideal trainer enjoys human as well as canine interaction. Because dog training is an ongoing, interactive learning process, most dog trainers provide owners and handlers with skills, information and techniques for long-term dog training. A dog trainer's salary depends on several variables, including qualifications, experience, location and types of services offered.
Education and Certification
There is no official license for dog training. Professional associations as well as many state and private trade schools offer certification programs for dog trainers. Research an institution's reputation, history and student reviews before enrolling in a certification program. The Association of Pet Dog Trainers recommends choosing a program that covers topics including the history of dog training, animal learning, dog behaviour and how to design training classes. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an animal health technician degree can serve as an educational foundation for dog trainers.
Experience and Other Qualifications
In addition to certification, dog trainers can attend seminars, participate in workshops and observe training classes to enhance their education. As with most animal-related jobs, hands-on experience is one of the most important qualifications a trainer can have. Consider volunteering with an animal training organisation or working as an apprentice or intern before launching your dog training career.
Types of Training Professions
According to the BLS, about 54 per cent of dog trainers are self-employed. Many dog trainers work with dogs that compete, such as race and show dogs. Others train dogs for specific jobs, such as guide dogs, rescue dogs, military and police service dogs. Some train dogs for the entertainment industry, while others work with individuals to train the family pet. Dog trainers with degrees in animal behaviour may work with a client's veterinarian to determine whether a dog's problems have psychological or physical causes.
The BLS reports that the animal training occupation has a high turnover rate, so new positions open frequently. Another factor in favour of occupational growth is the trend of increased spending on pets and high demand for "luxury animal services." The animal training industry is expected to grow by about 20 per cent by 2018, with the highest concentration of job opportunities available in major metropolitan areas. Private-sector jobs have a better outlook than do positions with government agencies and non-profit organisations.
According to 2009 BLS data, the national average wage for animal trainers is just over £20,150 per year, or £9.70 per hour. The median 50 per cent of animal trainers makes just under £17,550 annually, while the bottom 10 per cent makes about £11,050 and the top 10 per cent makes more than £33,800 annually. The top-paying industries for dog trainers are the entertainment sector, local government organisations and scientific research and development organisations.
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- Association of Pet Dog Trainers: So You Want to Be a Dog Trainer!
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Animal Care and Service Workers
- Animal Humane Society: How Can I Become a Dog Trainer?
- PetFinder: Careers with Animals -- Careers in Dog Behavior
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2009 -- Animal Trainers