Animal Care Specialist Degrees and Careers

Turning the love of animals into a career is possible by completing specialized training. Inside animal care degree programs students can learn to work with animals in a variety of ways. Schools and colleges offer many options for students that want to earn an education in animal care.

Animal care specialist is a broad term that represents different career areas that can be entered. Education prepares students to train, groom, provide companionship, and exercise animals. These primary duties are integrated into different careers where students will employ learned skills to work with animals on their needed care. Other job duties may include cleaning and repairing animal cages. Educational level will change depending on what animal’s students want to work with. Programs that students can enter are typically based on career requirement. Educational options include:

  • On-the-Job Training
  • Certificate Programs
  • Associate’s Degree Programs
  • Bachelor’s Degree Programs

These options coincide with the different career opportunities available to students. On-the-job training and certificate programs prepare students to tackle animal care areas. Education focuses on training students to work in kennels, shelters, pet stores, and grooming salons. A groomer typically completes an informal internship where they work alongside a professional for six to ten weeks. Student’s start by focusing on one area like bathing and gradually learn all grooming procedures from start to finish. Some colleges offer certificate programs in this area as well. Students that want to become caretakers work with animals inside established kennels to learn job responsibilities. Students are trained to bathe, exercise, groom, and feed animals when their owners are out of town. Training programs and certificate programs can have students working in kennels, pet stores, and shelters.

Associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs are typically reserved for students that are learning a more specialized skill. Careers that typically require an associate’s or bachelor’s degree include:

  • Marine Mammal Trainers
  • Zoo Caretakers
  • Technicians

These careers require an undergraduate degree because the type of work conducted requires specialized knowledge. A bachelor’s degree prepares students to work with marine mammals and zoo animals. A marine mammal trainer needs a degree in marine biology, psychology, or a similar field. A zoo caretaker works with the animals on their diets, behavior patterns, and raising procedures. These skills are best learned in a biology or animal science bachelor’s degree program. Technicians usually work with veterinary assistants or veterinarians. Students learn in an associate’s degree to correctly administer examinations and clinical procedures.

Students will find that most career paths do not require formal training unless it’s a specialized area. Many students work through certificate programs to gain the correct knowledge to enter a job. Through the completion of an educational program or job training students are able to work with animals and care for them in numerous ways.

Students should consider their career goals, which will help determine if an accredited training program is right for them. Accreditation is provided by agencies such as the American Veterinary Medical Association ( http://www.avma.org/ ) to schools and colleges that offer the best quality education. Begin this process by exploring the knowledge requirements for different careers.

DISCLAIMER: Above is a GENERIC OUTLINE and may or may not depict precise methods, courses and/or focuses related to ANY ONE specific school(s) that may or may not be advertised at PETAP.org.

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