Dealing with a variety of animals from very small to very large, animal care and service workers have a range of skills including animal behavior and handling knowledge, care and feeding of a range of animals, basic medical skills to deal with injury or illness and a range of other areas. Animal care and service workers may work in kennels, stores, zoos, stables, shelters, veterinary centers and aquariums. They are also often on the move providing mobile grooming, pet sitting services and at competitions and shows. With a strong growth trend, a career in animal care and service has an extremely promising future!
Animal Care & Service Worker Requirements $19,780
Requirements and qualifications vary greatly depending on the particular path chosen to take. Some employers may require prior experience or formal education while others may simply have on the job training. Most will require a minimum of a high school diploma, GED or equivalent training. Working with animals requires compassion, patience, problem-solving skills, stamina, customer service skills and being detail-oriented.
Though a formal education is not always required, most employers will require a minimum of a high school diploma, a GED or equivalent. As an example, if advancement opportunities are desired, a veterinary assistant will require a high school diploma or equivalent, a veterinary technician will need an associate’s degree and becoming a veterinarian requires a doctoral or professional degree. Farm animal and agricultural workers do not require a high school diploma or equivalent, but receive on the job training instead. Farm or ranch managers or animal breeders often require a bachelor’s degree or significant experience in their field. Many independent associations also offer certifications in areas such as grooming and pet sitting, as examples.
Steps to Become an Animal Care & Service Worker
Some employers use on the job training, but most prefer some amount of experience working with animals. If you do not have any experience, there are many good charities that would welcome a volunteer and would provide both basic training, experience and quite possibly a reference. More advanced positions require an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, which can often include an internship which provides both experience and a reference for a resume. On the job training typically starts with basic tasks such as feeding, watering and cleaning and moves into areas requiring more responsibility and experience such as basic veterinary care, grooming, exercising and training.
With additional education or experience, animal care and service workers can become veterinary assistants, veterinary technicians, veterinarians, pet groomers or farm or ranch managers.
There is a large range in the salary of animal care and service workers which are strongly dependent mainly on education. An average non-farm animal caretaker earns an average of $19,550 annually and an animal trainer earns around $26,580. If willing to pursue additional education for career advancement, a veterinary assistant averages $22,040, a veterinary technician $29,710 and a veterinarian averages $82,040. Farm animal and agricultural workers average $18,970 annually and farm or ranch managers average $60,750.
The job outlook for animal care and service workers is great! The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics expects this area of employment to grow 23% between 2010 and 2020, with approximately 80% working in non-farm industries. Similar non-farm jobs are also projected to have much higher than average growth, with veterinary assistants having an average growth f 14%, veterinarians increasing much faster than average at 52% and veterinary technicians increasing an astounding 52%! Agricultural work is projected to have a slight to moderate decline in projected outlook due to automation and centralizing farming operations, with farm workers declining by -3% and farm or ranch managers declining by -8%.