Army Dog Handler Jobs: Duties, Salary and Career Outlook
Army dog handlers are either enlisted military personnel or U.S. Department of Defense civilians who are in charge of the basic care and training of military working dogs. Military working dogs are generally used for drug interdiction or bomb-sniffing missions.
Duties of Army Dog Handlers
After completing the military working dog program and receiving certification by the 341st Training Squadron at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, army dog handlers are ready to begin their jobs. Daily duties for handlers include the basic care of military working dogs, such as feeding, watering, and grooming. As part of general health maintenance, handlers may exercise dogs regularly to keep them in top physical condition. Handlers may be in charge of cleaning kennels and other assigned kennel duties.
Handlers may also be expected to participate in regular obedience training of their dogs as well as specialized training for the missions to which they are assigned. In addition to regular handler duties, senior handlers might be responsible for supervisory duties, including ensuring that annual certification requirements for handlers are met, seeing that all training is properly handled and guaranteeing that military working dogs are prepared for their missions before being deployed.
Army dog handlers might patrol areas with their dogs. Dogs can be trained to search and attack on command. Civilian contractors may work with the Transportation Security Administration, using dogs to track drugs and explosives at airports. Combat engineers have employed dogs to detect land mines and other ordinance.
Army dog handlers who are military personnel are usually military police, combat engineers, or members of the Special Forces (otherwise known as the Green Berets). Based on a search of Payscale.com in 2013, the middle salary range for police dog handlers ranged between $34,196 and $80,261. It should be noted that, as with all military personnel, salaries for army dog handlers varies according to total years of service and rank.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expected job opportunities to outnumber recruits in all areas of the military from 2010-2020, especially in light of continuing conflicts involving the armed forces (www.bls.gov). However, the position of army dog handler may be limited by the number of missions that necessitate the use of canines.
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