Animal Care Worker Career Description

Summary

Animal care and service workers attend to animals.

 

What they do

Animal care and service workers feed, groom, bathe, and exercise pets and other nonfarm animals.

Animal care and service workers typically do the following:

  • Give food and water to animals
  • Clean equipment and the living spaces of animals
  • Monitor animals and record details of their diet, physical condition, and behavior
  • Examine animals for signs of illness or injury
  • Exercise animals
  • Bathe animals, trim nails, clip hair, and attend to other grooming needs
  • Train animals to obey or to behave in a specific manner

 

Work Environment

Animal care and service workers are employed in a variety of settings. Many work at kennels; others work at zoos, stables, animal shelters, pet stores, veterinary clinics, and aquariums. Their work may involve travel.

Although animal care and service workers may consider their work enjoyable and rewarding, they face unpleasant and emotionally distressing situations at times. For example, those who work in shelters may observe abused, injured, or sick animals. Some caretakers may have to help veterinarians euthanize injured or unwanted animals.

In addition, a lot the work involves physical tasks, such as moving and cleaning cages, lifting bags of food, and exercising animals.

 

How to become an Animal Care and Service Worker

Animal care and service workers typically have a high school diploma or equivalent and learn the occupation on the job. Many employers prefer to hire people who have experience with animals.

Animal care and service workers typically need at least a high school diploma or equivalent.

Although pet groomers typically learn by working under the guidance of an experienced groomer, they can also attend grooming schools.

Animal trainers usually need a high school diploma or equivalent, although some positions may require a bachelor’s degree. For example, marine mammal trainers usually need a bachelor’s degree in marine biology, animal science, biology, or a related field.

Dog trainers and horse trainers may take courses at community colleges or vocational and private training schools.

Most zoos require zookeepers to have a bachelor’s degree in biology, animal science, or a related field.

Most animal care and service workers learn through on-the-job training.

Animal trainers may learn their skills from an experienced trainer. Pet groomers often learn their trade under the guidance of an experienced groomer.

Pay

The median annual wage for animal caretakers was $24,780 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $18,630, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $38,630.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of animal care and service workers is projected to grow 22 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Many people consider their pets to be a part of their family and are willing to pay more for pet care than pet owners have in the past. As more households include companion pets, employment of animal care and service workers in the pet services industry will continue to grow. Employment of animal care and service workers in kennels, grooming shops, and pet stores is projected to increase in order to keep up with the growing demand for animal care.

Similar Job Titles

Animal Care Giver (ACG), Aquarist, Dog Bather, Dog Groomer, Groomer, Kennel Attendant, Kennel Technician (Kennel Tech), Pet Groomer, Pet Stylist, Zookeeper

Related Occupations

Cooks, Fast Food Worker; Food Preparation and Serving Workers; Stock Clerks, Sales Floor; Nursery Worker

 

More Information

The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field.  Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas.  As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.

 

Magazines and Publications

Video Transcript

From animal shelters to zoos, animal care and service workers look after a wide variety of pets and other non-farm animals. They provide food and exercise, and monitor animals for illness or injury. Groomers work at kennels and pet supply stores to bathe, clip nails, and trim fur, mostly for dogs. Some are self-employed. Kennel attendants care for pets —usually dogs— when their owners aren’t able to. Pet sitters do similar work, caring for pets at the owner’s —or their own home. Animal caretakers work for animal shelters to provide basic care for homeless pets, and interact with the public about pet health and adoption. Some help veterinarians with medical care. Grooms look after horses at stables –where they exercise and rub down the horses, and clean stalls. Zookeepers tend animals in zoos —either one species, or many different species. Animal care and service workers sometimes face difficult situations such as caring for abused animals or helping euthanize animals. Tasks like moving and cleaning cages or lifting food bags are physically demanding. Interacting with frightened or aggressive animals contributes to a high injury rate for these workers. Part-time work and irregular hours are common, including evenings, weekends, and holidays. Animal care and service workers typically need a high school diploma and receive on-the-job training. Many employers prefer candidates who have experience with animals, which is often obtained through volunteering and internships. Zookeepers generally need a bachelor’s degree in a related field.

Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistic  www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOneStop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org