Nonfarm Animal Caretakers
Nonfarm animal caretakers take care of the everyday needs of animals in a variety of environments such as kennels, shelters and clinics. They perform tasks such as feeding and grooming animals, cleaning their cages and examining animals to make sure they are in good health. They may also exercise animals, bath them and provide companionship. Common job titles are animal keeper, animal attendant and animal care technician.
Kennel attendants clean cages and dog runs, provide food and water, and bathe and exercise animals. Kennel attendants may also perform grooming tasks.
Groomers specialize in maintaining an animal's appearance. Most groomers work with dogs and some groomers work with cats. Employers include kennels, pet supply food stores and veterinary clinics. Some groomers have their own business. Mobile grooming services that make house calls are increasingly popular.
Pet sitters take care of pets while their owners are away. They typically take care of the pet at the owner's house. They take care of tasks such as providing food and water. Pet sitters also exercise pets. Some bathe and groom animals. Most pet sitters take care of dogs.
- Provide food and water to animals
- Clean cages and dog runs
- Examine and monitor animals in order to detect signs of illness
- Provide treatments to injured or sick animals
- Exercise animals
- Unload and store feed and supplies
- Bathe animals
- Groom animals
- Answer customers' questions
Some of the tasks performed by animal caretakers may be unpleasant and physically or emotionally demanding. They also risk being bitten or scratched. However, working with animals can be very rewarding. Animal care technicians may occasionally lift heavy supplies and their work often includes kneeling and bending.
Nonfarm animal caretakers often work irregular hours. Animal care takers and service workers often work during the weekends and holidays. Some animal hospitals and animal shelters have an attendant on duty 24 hours a day.
Employment of animal care and service workers is projected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to grow by 21 percent from 2008 to 2018 which is much faster than average for all occupations. In addition, the median annual earnings for nonfarm animal caretakers in 2008 was $19,360.
Education, Certification, and Licensing
Most animal care and service workers learn by on-the-job-training. Many employers seek applicants that have experience with animals. Animal attendants that are employed at kennels typically learn their skills with on-the-job training.
Pet sitters typically don't need any specific training but are typically required to have some knowledge about the type of animals they are taking care of and some previous experience with animals.
Pet groomers usually acquire their skills by participating in an informal apprenticeship under the supervision of an experienced groomer which usually last from 6 to 10 weeks. There are numerous state licensed grooming schools across the country which provide programs that vary in length for 2 to 18 weeks.
Animal keepers that work in animal shelters are not required to have specialized training, however training programs and workshops are available through the Humane Society of the United States, the National Animal Control Association and the American Humane Association.
The National Dog Groomers Association of America provides certification for master status as a groomer. A home-study certification program is offered by the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters. A home study program is provided by the Pet Care Services Association and those that complete all three stages and pass written and oral examinations become Certified Kennel Operators.
- Pet Care Services Association
- National Dog Groomers Association of America
- National Association of Professional Pet Sitters
The top employers are boarding kennels, animal shelters, animal humane societies, veterinary hospitals, pet stores, rescue leagues and laboratories.
Schools for Nonfarm Animal Caretakers are listed in the Browse Schools Section.