Animal Caretaker Certificate and Education Program Options
Animal caretakers are responsible for feeding, bathing, exercising and sometimes training animals in shelters, kennels, pet stores, zoos, animal clinics and more. Different employers have different educational requirements for the position of animal caretaker, but some do require job seekers to have at least a certificate in the field.
Certificate of Animal Care
Many animal shelters, kennels and similar organizations hire high school graduates and provide on-the-job training. However, a certificate in animal care can provide individuals with the educational background and practical skills necessary to open doors in the field. Such a program teaches students how to properly bathe, feed and train different types of animals.
Students enrolled in an animal care certificate program learn about animal nutrition, obedience training, animal behavioral problems, characteristics of different breeds and basic veterinary issues. Many certificate programs in the field also include a clinical practicum that requires students to put their knowledge to practical use with actual animals.
There are little or no educational prerequisites for gaining enrollment in the majority of animal care certificate programs. Some that are offered through community schools do require that students have a high school diploma; however some non-credit certificate programs do not even require that.
A certificate program in animal care is likely to contain a majority of courses that are practical and hands-on in nature. Students are often expected to work directly with animals to build their skills and knowledge in the following areas:
- Veterinary anatomy and physiology
- Animal science
- Animal training techniques
- Animal nutrition
- Laboratory animal care
- Clinical practicum
Popular Career Options
A certificate in animal care can prepare students for a variety of entry-level careers working directly with animals. Some of these include:
- Animal shelter employee
- Humane Society staff
- Animal laboratory research assistant
- Private practice veterinary assistant
- Pet store manager
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, animal care and service workers were projected to see a 23% increase in employment opportunities from 2010-2020. The mean annual wages for nonfarm animal caretakers were $22,370 in May 2012.
There are several organizations offering certification for animal caretakers, depending upon their chosen specialties and vocations. For example, the National Dog Groomers Association of America offers certification for professional dog groomers, while the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters offers a certification program as well. Individuals interested in working in a particular branch of the animal care industry should contact potential employers and inquire as to what certifications, if any, are necessary to gain that particular job.
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