Animal Control Officer Training Program and Certification Information

Animal control officers investigate allegations of animal cruelty, restrain dangerous, abandoned or unattended animals and deliver unclaimed animals to animal shelters. Certificate programs are offered through community colleges, law enforcement training centers and animal control associations. On-the-job training is common for non-managerial animal control officers.

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Certificate Programs for Animal Control Officers

Certificate programs are available for those interested in entering into the animal control profession and for currently practicing animal control professionals. Accelerated certificate programs may take 1-2 weeks to complete. Students are typically required to be 18 years old before enrolling in an animal control certificate program.

Program Coursework

Training consists of intensive courses covering topics such as animal behavior, euthanasia, constitutional law and crime scene documentation. Coursework includes:

  • Animal diseases
  • Blood sports
  • Capture techniques
  • Crisis intervention
  • Evidence collection
  • First aid
  • Investigation
  • Media relations
  • Self-defense against humans
  • Stress management

Employment Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that animal control workers earned a median annual wage of $31,680 in 2012 ( There were 13,890 jobs in this field in the same year. Most of these professionals worked in local government and social advocacy organizations.

Continuing Education Options

Animal control officers may seek to enroll in continuing education and training courses on current and emergent topics, such as in emergency planning. Emergency planning training teaches animal control officers how to get ready for the aftermath of a terrorist attack or a natural disaster. This training includes information on preparing for large-scale animal sheltering, evacuations, disposal of animal remains and protecting humans from animal-borne diseases.

Professional Certification

Though animal control officer training requirements are not nationally standardized, the National Animal Control Association (NACA) offers courses that are recognized by a majority of state credentialing authorities. NACA certification is granted after completing two NACA training courses within 18 months.

Some states have additional requirements for certification; commonly, these requirements include firearms certification and a physical examination. Additionally, some states require continuing education credits every 2-3 years. Check with the local department of health and human services regarding licensure.

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