How to Become an Animal Trainer

Animal Trainer Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year $31,860
Avg. Pay / hour $15.32
Education 1-2 Years
Job Outlook 13%

Pets have quickly become a part of many families.

The perfect pet may have to undergo a few obedience classes before fitting in with a structured family and their routine.

Animal Trainers are the perfect professionals to teach pets some basic obedience manners.

Household pets are not the only types of animals that Trainers may instruct.

Animal Trainers may work with farm animals such as horses.

A small quantity of Animal Trainers may even work with exotic animals such as tigers for entertainment purposes such as the circus or capuchin monkeys for movies.

If you love animals and teaching read the information below to learn more about this profession.

The information below includes education requirements to enter the field, a general job description, salary and wage data and the future job outlook.

Education Requirements to Become an Animal Trainer

Education requirements to become an Animal Trainer will vary depending on the type of animal a candidate will focus their career on.

For example, a Marine Animal Trainer will require much more education than an Animal Trainer working with dogs.

The majority of candidates who want to become an Animal Trainer will need a minimum of a high school diploma or its equivalent.

Students who want to become an Animal Trainer should attend a program or gain on the job experience that will strengthen their ability to work with animals.

Candidates should have the knowledge and experience regarding the following concepts:

  • Obedience teaching
  • Obedience cues
  • Problem solving methods related to animals
  • Safety protocol and precautions
  • Learning theory of animals
  • Basic information regarding the type of animal they will train

Many of these concepts can be learned with prolonged exposure to animals.

For candidates who do not have to ability to spend time with animals such as ho

Candidates with a high school diploma or related certification will still need experience and training in order to enter this field.

Dog Trainers can attend classes or workshops at a community college or a vocational school in order to gain a basic understanding on how to train dogs.

Animal Trainer Job Description

An Animal Trainer will speak with a pet owner to determine the behavior modification they wish to change.

They will then need to meet with the pet and create a behavior modification program to implement.

During their meeting with an animal, Trainers will observe an animal’s capability to learn, behavior and abilities.

Animal Trainers will create and follow a pet behavior modification program in order to create the following results:

  • Obedience
  • Competition
  • For security purposes
  • Entertainment
  • Riding (horses)

Following their behavioral modification program, an Animal Trainer will work with the pet repeatedly until the pet has picked up on the desired behavior change.

During training an Animal Trainer will make sure to observe whether there are any physical conditions that are affecting an animal’s capability to learn new tricks or obedience requests.

Animal Trainers will need to display a lot of patience for animals who are reluctant to change their behavior and may have to work with them through several sessions in order to create the desired results.

Animal Trainer Salary and Career Path

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average annual wage in 2010 for Animal Trainers was approximately $31,000.

The salary range for these professionals during the same year was approximately $17,000 to $53,000 per year.

Exact wages for these professionals will depend on several factors including years of experience, geographical location and the industry an Animal Trainer is employed in.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reports that the projected job growth for Animal Trainers and other related careers will experience fast growth.

Career opportunities for professionals who want to become an Animal Trainer should see a growth of approximately 21 percent through the year 2018, a much higher rate than other careers and occupations in other industries.

Animal Trainers who work specifically with mammals such as horses should expect strong competition from other candidates.

This is due to the high interest in working with these animals which outpaces the number of job opportunities.

Animal Trainers who work with dogs should expect more favorable job prospects especially larger metropolitan areas.

This is due to pet owners’ high interest in teaching their dogs obedience.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
New Hampshire$39,710
New Jersey$43,710
New Mexico$32,840
New York$67,440
North Carolina$32,950
South Carolina$31,490
South Dakota$37,090
West Virginia$38,990

The top earning state in the field is New York, where the average salary is $67,440.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

New York - $67,440
Kansas - $49,550
Alaska - $46,160
New Jersey - $43,710
California - $41,890
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Animal Trainers, OCC Code 39-2011, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an animal trainer?

Animal trainers teach animals how to respond to commands and keep them from exhibiting certain behaviors.

They also use techniques to encourage animals to display certain behaviors.

Most animal trainers work with dogs and horses, but some may specialize in working with marine mammals.

Some animal trainers specialize in training guide dogs, while others train show animals or pets.

Obedience training is one of the most common animal training techniques.

Obedience trainers are most commonly hired by dog owners who want to teach their dog how to answer commands, walk on a leash and how to behave in the house.

Animal trainers need compassion, patience and physical stamina in order to be able to work with animals.

How much does an animal trainer make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual wage for animal trainers was $34,760, as of May 2018.

Salaries vary widely depending on the trainer’s field of expertise and the region; some trainers make less than $20,000 a year while others earn more than $56,000 a year.

Although the profession is not very well paid, working with animals can be a fun and extremely rewarding career.

How much does it cost to become an animal trainer?

Most animal trainers don’t need formal education, but some positions may require a bachelor’s degree.

Although a certificate is not a requirement for pet trainers, it may help you prove your credentials to potential employers.

Courses for dog and horse trainers are available at community colleges and trade schools.

Animal trainers may also learn their skills by working alongside an experienced trainer.

If you want to specialize in training dolphins or other marine mammals, you may need a bachelor’s degree in biology, animal science or a related field.

A four-year bachelor’s degree program in animal science costs, on average, around $180,000.

What is the demand for animal trainers?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for animal trainers is expected to grow 13 percent from 2018 to 2028.

As more people adopt or buy a companion pet, more animal trainers will be needed to teach pets how to behave around the house.

How long does it take to become an animal trainer?

There are no educational requirements if you want to train dogs or horses but if you want to improve your credentials, you can choose to earn a diploma from a community college or vocational school.

Diploma and associate’s degree programs can typically be completed in less than 2 years.

Some dog trainers also learn hands-on by working alongside experienced trainers.

If you want to train marine mammals, you will need a four-year bachelor’s degree in marine biology, animal science or a related field.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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