If you work as an Animal Caretaker, you likely 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, racehorses, ornamental fish or birds, zoo animals, and mice. You typically work in settings such as kennels, animal shelters, zoos, circuses, and aquariums. As well, you may keep records of feedings, treatments, and animals received or discharged. In addition, you clean, disinfect, and repair cages, pens, or fish tanks. Working in this capacity you may also have the job title of Animal Care Giver, Aquarist, Dog Bather, Dog Groomer, Groomer, Kennel Attendant, Kennel Technician, Pet Groomer, Pet Stylist, Zookeeper.
- Provide food and water for animals.
- Clean equipment and the living spaces of animals.
- Monitor animals and record details of their diet, physical condition, and behavior.
- Examine animals for signs of illness or injury.
- Exercise animals.
- Bathe animals, trim nails, clip hair, and attend to other grooming needs.
- Train animals to obey or to behave in a specific manner.
Median Wage May 2019: approximately $25,000 annually
Employment of animal caretakers is projected to grow 22% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. Therefore, the job outlook is very strong.
Animal caretakers 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. As well, 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.
For more information
- American Kennel Club
- American Paint Horse Association
- Association of Zoos and Aquariums
- International Horsemanship Association
- National Dog Groomers Association of America
- Pet Sitters International
- National Marine Mammal Foundation
- The Association of Professional Dog Trainers
- National Animal Care and Control Association
- International Marine Animal Trainers’ Association
- Dolphin Research Center
- Best Friends Animal Society
- The Society for Marine Mammology
- Animal Sheltering Magazine
- AKC Gazette
- NACA Animal Care and Control Magazine
- Rescue and Animal Care
- NMMF Publications
- The Humane Society – All Animals Magazine
- Pet Sitters International – Free Ebooks
- IMATA Soundings Magazine
- Paint Horses Journal
- Best Friends Magazine
Most animal caretakers learn through on-the-job training. 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.
Overall, there are certificate, associate, and bachelor's degree programs in public and private postsecondary institutions across the country that may help provide a path to your career aspirations as an Animal Caretaker in the following areas:
- Animal Training
- Dog/Pet/Animal Grooming
- Domestic Animal Services
- Marine Biology
Use the link provided below and the ‘Browse for Program’ button to search: