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Career Profile: Animal Caretakers

Feed, water, groom, bathe, exercise, or otherwise provide care to promote and maintain the well-being of pets and other animals that are not raised for consumption, such as dogs, cats, race horses, ornamental fish or birds, zoo animals, and mice. Work in settings such as kennels, animal shelters, zoos, circuses, and aquariums. May keep records of feedings, treatments, and animals received or discharged. May clean, disinfect, and repair cages, pens, or fish tanks.

Salary and Outlook

According to the US Department of Labor, there are 272,400 people employed as animal caretakers in the United States. The median annual salary is $26,100. Entry level employees earn approximately $19,310 per year and senior employees earn approximately $40,210 per year.

Estimates do not include other potential benefits such as health insurance, overtime pay, or retirement benefits that may be offered by employers.

Job Duties

  • Collect and record animal information, such as weight, size, physical condition, treatments received, medications given, and food intake.
  • Respond to questions from patrons, and provide information about animals, such as behavior, habitat, breeding habits, or facility activities.
  • Answer telephones and schedule appointments.
  • Advise pet owners on how to care for their pets' health.
  • Perform animal grooming duties, such as washing, brushing, clipping, and trimming coats, cutting nails, and cleaning ears.
  • Observe and caution children petting and feeding animals in designated areas to ensure the safety of humans and animals.
  • Clean and disinfect surgical equipment.
  • Find homes for stray or unwanted animals.
  • Discuss with clients their pets' grooming needs.
  • Transfer animals between enclosures to facilitate breeding, birthing, shipping, or rearrangement of exhibits.
  • Adjust controls to regulate specified temperature and humidity of animal quarters, nurseries, or exhibit areas.
  • Do facility laundry and clean, organize, maintain, and disinfect animal quarters, such as pens and stables, and equipment, such as saddles and bridles.
  • Exercise animals to maintain their physical and mental health.
  • Feed and water animals according to schedules and feeding instructions.
  • Provide treatment to sick or injured animals, or contact veterinarians to secure treatment.
  • Examine and observe animals to detect signs of illness, disease, or injury.
  • Mix food, liquid formulas, medications, or food supplements according to instructions, prescriptions, and knowledge of animal species.
  • Train animals to perform certain tasks.
  • Order, unload, and store feed and supplies.
  • Sell pet food and supplies.
  • Anesthetize and inoculate animals, according to instructions.
  • Install, maintain, and repair animal care facility equipment, such as infrared lights, feeding devices, and cages.

Career List

Job Outlook


Total Current Jobs:
272,400
Annual Openings:
56,400
Increase in Openings by 2030:
34%
Annual Salary Range:
$19,310 - $40,210
Education Requirements:
High school diploma