What Is an Animal Care Specialist?

Training as an animal care specialist can qualify you to work in places ranging from pet shops to animal science laboratories. Read on to find out more about education and employment options for animal care specialists. Schools offering Animal Care degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Defined

Working as an animal care specialist, you might have duties such as training, feeding, and exercising various types of animals as well as keeping them and their living areas clean. You are responsible for providing animals with companionship and watching for any changes in behavior or diet that might indicate a problem. You will not have the same duties in every job, since employment options vary widely.

Important Facts About Animal Care Specialists

Median Salary (2012) $25,770 (for Animal Trainers)
Key Skills Patience; responsibility; animal handling
Work Environment Zoos; stables; kennels; shelters
Job Outlook 15% (for Animal Trainers)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Training and Education

You have several education options for becoming an animal care specialist. Some employers might only require a high school diploma and relevant work experience because they offer on-the-job training to help you meet their specific needs. Postsecondary training is available, however, and required for some employment opportunities.

A certificate or associate's degree program for animal care specialists includes coursework in areas such as animal diet and grooming techniques, breed identification, animal terminology, and training techniques. These programs might also include business courses such as shop management, business finance, and merchandising. You can also choose to pursue more advanced degrees, such as a bachelor's degree in biology or animal science. These degree programs often include more science courses, such as growth biology, animal reproductive health, and microbiology, as well as courses that address a wider range of animals, such as horses, livestock, or poultry.

Career Opportunities

Your employment options as an animal care specialist vary according to your specific interests and training. Most employers prefer to hire individuals who have some experience with animals. Your experience can determine whether you might seek employment at a zoo or marine facility, which include more exotic animals with very specific needs, or a kennel, grooming salon, or animal shelter, where you are more likely to work primarily with cats and dogs. Some veterinary hospitals and clinics might also employ you as an animal care specialist. You should be aware, however, that these employment situations can require you to perform duties that are very different from those of a veterinary assistant, a position that requires extra training.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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