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Career Profile: Animal Trainers

Train animals for riding, harness, security, performance, or obedience, or for assisting persons with disabilities. Accustom animals to human voice and contact, and condition animals to respond to commands. Train animals according to prescribed standards for show or competition. May train animals to carry pack loads or work as part of pack team.

Salary and Outlook

According to the US Department of Labor, there are 60,200 people employed as animal trainers in the United States. The median annual salary is $31,500. Entry level employees earn approximately $21,550 per year and senior employees earn approximately $62,040 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

  • Train horses or other equines for riding, harness, show, racing, or other work, using knowledge of breed characteristics, training methods, performance standards, and the peculiarities of each animal.
  • Use oral, spur, rein, or hand commands to condition horses to carry riders or to pull horse-drawn equipment.
  • Retrain horses to break bad habits, such as kicking, bolting, or resisting bridling or grooming.
  • Train dogs in human assistance or property protection duties.
  • Train dogs to work as guides for the visually impaired.
  • Place tack or harnesses on horses to accustom horses to the feel of equipment.
  • Train and rehearse animals, according to scripts, for motion picture, television, film, stage, or circus performances.
  • Organize or conduct animal shows.
  • Instruct jockeys in handling specific horses during races.
  • Cue or signal animals during performances.
  • Talk to or interact with animals to familiarize them to human voices or contact.
  • Conduct training programs to develop or maintain desired animal behaviors for competition, entertainment, obedience, security, riding, or related purposes.
  • Feed or exercise animals or provide other general care, such as cleaning or maintaining holding or performance areas.
  • Observe animals' physical conditions to detect illness or unhealthy conditions requiring medical care.
  • Evaluate animals to determine their temperaments, abilities, or aptitude for training.
  • Administer prescribed medications to animals.
  • Keep records documenting animal health, diet, or behavior.
  • Evaluate animals for trainability and ability to perform.
  • Advise animal owners regarding the purchase of specific animals.

Career List

Job Outlook


Total Current Jobs:
60,200
Annual Openings:
9,900
Increase in Openings by 2030:
29%
Annual Salary Range:
$21,550 - $62,040
Education Requirements:
High school diploma