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Kennel Assistant Training and Education

Find out how you can obtain a position as a kennel assistant, including which type of education and training can be most helpful. For information on formal education options and training topics, read on.

What You Need to Know

Kennel assistants care for dogs and other animals that stay overnight in kennels at vet clinics, shelters, or doggy day cares. The most important training for this career is hands-on experience. Relatively few educational programs focus solely on kennel assistant training. You might consider degree or non-degree programs in animal care, animal management or veterinary technology, which can lead to employment in veterinary hospitals or boarding kennels.

Education No postsecondary education required; relevant certificate or associate degree programs in animal care and management available
Training Short term, on-the-job training; For certificate or degree (and depending on the program), you will learn how to care for, handle, and restrain animals, safety procedures, animal behavior, laboratory techniques, dog obedience, grooming, etc.
Responsibilities Safe animal handling, socializing and comforting the animals, teaching the animals, monitoring behavior, feeding and walking, having good customer service and communication skills

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, PAWS.org

Are There Formal Training Requirements for Kennel Assistants?

No formal education is required for a kennel assistant position; most people learn on the job. However, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employers hiring animal care and service workers generally favor applicants with experience working with animals (www.bls.gov). If you have no experience, you may consider volunteering with an animal rescue agency or shelter.

Are Relevant Educational Programs Available?

Although no postsecondary education is required of kennel assistants, some schools offer relevant certificate or associate degree programs in animal care and management. The only prerequisite is usually a high school diploma or GED. Such programs are generally not available online.

Certificate and associate degree programs seek to prepare students for a variety of jobs working with animals, and emphasis in terms of this varies from school to school. Some programs focus more on handling domestic pets in a veterinary clinic or kennel setting, while others are geared toward work with zoo or farm animals.

How Long Will It Take to Complete an Educational Program?

While many certificate programs can be completed in one year, an associate degree program in animal care is about twice the length, requiring around 60 credit hours; to earn an associate degree, you'll be required to take some general education courses in areas such as math, the social sciences and liberal arts.

What Will I Learn in a Training Program?

In either a certificate or an associate degree program, you can expect to receive training in how to restrain, handle and care for animals, along with basic safety procedures working with ill or injured animals. You'll also be introduced to laboratory equipment and sterilization techniques. Courses may cover the following:

  • Animal science
  • Zoology
  • Animal handling
  • Canine and feline nutrition

Some schools have partnerships with local animal hospitals and clinics to provide hands-on experience working with animals, and others have kennels, veterinary clinics and grooming rooms on site. You'll learn about kennel management procedures, animal behavior, grooming techniques and nutritional practices.

Will I Need To Be Licensed or Certified to Be a Kennel Assistant?

There are no state-regulated licensing or certification requirements for kennel assistants; however, there are some voluntary certifications that can be pursued. For instance, the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS) and Pet Sitters International offer certifications that can show employers you possess the skills necessary to work as a kennel assistant.