Animal Breeder: Information About Starting a Career As an Animal Breeder
Learn about a career as an animal breeder. Read the job description, duties, education requirements, salary and employment outlook to decide if this is the right career for you.
The title of animal breeder may apply to a wide range of more specific occupations. Animal breeders may breed purebred cats or dogs to be sold as pets or to show professionally. When this is the case, animal breeders strive to meet specific standards in their animals as set by organizations such as the American Kennel Club. An animal breeder may assist with the breeding of large animals, such as prize-winning race horses or animals in a zoo. Often, the job title of animal breeder refers to an animal scientist who develops more efficient ways to produce the meat and other animal products that people eat.
Regardless of the specific type of worker, animal breeders work closely and daily with their specialty animals, providing them with food, water, shelter and medical care. Breeders are familiar with the genetics of their animals and understand how to encourage procreation among them, taking into account genealogy, characteristics and insemination techniques to achieve the best results. Breeders are also responsible for keeping records of genealogy, health and birth intervals, as well as business records for sold animals.
Small and domestic animal breeders do not require any formal training, but they should familiarize themselves with the desired and standard characteristics of the breed they work with. Those wishing to breed animals in a more exotic environment such as a zoo will need to first earn a bachelor's degree in veterinary science and perhaps specialize in graduate and/or postgraduate studies in zoology. To breed agricultural animals, a 4-year degree in agricultural science should be adequate for most entry-level positions. According to O*Net Online in 2010, 36% of breeders held a high school diploma or equivalent, and 30% completed some college education, but did not hold degrees.
O*Net Online reported that animal breeders should hold the following qualities:
- Compassion for and a genuine interest in improving the lives of animals, even if they are being bred for the marketplace
- Willingness to share research and work as a team member for the betterment of a species
- Knowledge of science and/or veterinary medicine
- Hand-steadiness, a calm demeanor and physical stamina when dealing with animals
Employment and Salary Outlook
Earnings vary widely due to the spectrum of activities represented by the job title. Even within the small and domestic animal breeding category, the earning potential depends on the type of animal bred and whether or not that breeder has produced any verifiable champions. However, the BLS reported that animal breeders earned an average annual salary of $37,230 in May 2012. States with the highest number of professional animal breeders in the same year included Kentucky, Wisconsin and California, per the BLS.
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