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Penn Foster High School

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Police Dog Trainer: Salary and Career Facts

Training police dogs involves teaching them to protect their handler, assist in apprehending criminals and detect bombs. Keep reading to discover more job duties of police dog trainers, education requirements and salary information.

What Does a Police Dog Trainer Do?

Police dog trainers may work for training schools, private companies or police departments where they teach dogs basic and advanced skills needed to work with police officers. They may simply train the dogs for police departments or work with dog and handler teams to prepare them for this specialized career. As a police dog trainer, you train dogs in the fundamentals of obedience with and without leashes, as well as basic verbal and hand signal commands, such as stay, sit, heel and come. You also prepare dogs for specific police jobs such as searching buildings or an area, protecting the handler, tracking and catching criminals. Advanced training classes cover specialties in detecting drugs, guns and bombs. Many police dog trainers are also police dog handlers. Additional job duties as a handler may involve living with, working with and training your assigned police dog, as well as assisting with police investigations.

Education Required Experience and specialized training
Key Responsibilities Care for and train dogs
Job Growth (2018-2028)* 13% for all animal trainers
Median Salary (2018)* $29,290 for all animal trainers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Job Requirements?

Job requirements for a police dog trainer vary from state to state, but most require you to have 3-6 years of experience as a police dog handler and 200-1,000 hours of formal training for the career. You may receive this training from a K-9 instructor school or state-approved association. Sometimes these schools are part of a college curriculum; in other cases, they may be schools run or recommended by state or county police agencies. Some police dog trainer positions may require you to have certification. Certification requirements variations depend not only on the employer, but on the specific certification you are shooting for. You may also be required to be a member of a national or regional K-9 association.

How Much Can I Earn?

There are no specific salary statistics for police dog trainer wages; however, according to 2018 data from the BLS, the median salary for all animal trainers was $29,290. Salaries depend on your experience and geographical location, as well as what kinds of specialty certifications you have earned. If you become a private police dog trainer, your income may vary on the number of clients and how much you charge.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you are interested in a similar career, you may want to consider working as veterinary assistant or lab animal caretaker. These positions also only require a high school diploma, though training is typically undertaken on the job. These animal caretakers work under the supervision of veterinarians or scientists to provide routine care for animals, including feeding, exercise and bathing, as well as possible administration of medication. They are responsible for the cleanliness and maintenance of the facility, including cages, equipment and exam rooms. Another animal-related career is a groomer, which involves bathing pets and cutting and cutting their hair and nails. Groomers may also investigate health issues that could require veterinary attention.