Animal Trainers: Salary Overview
As an animal trainer, you will be responsible for training animals for riding, security, performance, harness, obedience, or assisting persons with disabilities.
Animal trainers can work with a variety of animals, including dogs, horses, birds, or marine mammals and their job responsibilities vary depending on the type of animal they work with and the place of employment.
Wages in this field are typically between $20,000 and $59,000 a year, depending on the trainer’s expertise, experience, the industry, and the employer.
Animal Trainer Salary by Industry
Animal trainers can work in industries such as support activities for animal production, personal services, spectator sports, support activities for miscellaneous store retailers or for museums, historical sites, and similar institutions but also for civic and social organizations or in the field of scientific research.
Some animal trainers work for clients who want to train their pets, others work for animal parks, aquariums, movie sets, or train service animals.
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Most commonly animal trainers work with dogs and specialize in teaching pets how to walk on a leash, non-aggression, and how to behave in the home.
Dogs may also be trained for sports, shows or other activities.
Salaries vary depending on the industry of employment and the type of animal they train because depending on the type of animal training they practice, animal trainers need different types of certifications, skills and have to face different risks.
For example, dog trainers who specialize in obedience training are paid differently than trainers who coach horses for contests and other events.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual wage for animal trainers who work for companies that provide support activities for animal production (eg. breeding services, boarding horses, etc.) was $43,700 in May 2019 while those who work for miscellaneous store retailers earned $26,010 a year, on average.
Those who work in the field of spectator sports earned around $45,330 a year while those who work for museums, historical sites, and similar institutions earned, on average, $37,630 a year.
If you want to train animals for personal services, you should know that the mean annual wage for animal trainers who work in this field was $36,080 in May 2019.
The top-paying industry for animal trainers is the one that includes civic and social organizations.
Animal trainers who work in this field earned, on average, $57,060 a year, as of May 2019.
However, although this industry offers higher salaries for animal trainers, job openings in this field are scarce, and having several years of experience and special certification may be required.
Animal Trainer Salary by Compensation Structure
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean hourly wage for animal trainers is $17.43 as of May 2019 but it can be anywhere between less than $10 and more than $28 an hour, based on a wide range of factors.
Animal trainers who have lots of experience and a good reputation can earn even more than $100 per hour of training.
Some animal trainers may be paid hourly while others are paid on a monthly salary, depending on their employer and the industry of employment.
Sometimes an animal trainer’s compensation package may also include medical and dental health benefits.
Also, it isn’t uncommon for animal trainers to earn bonuses if the employer is satisfied with their work which can supplement their earnings with up to several thousands of dollars a year.
Job prospects for animal trainers are expected to be good in the future.
According to BLS, employment for this profession is expected to grow by 13 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all professions.
Although this profession is not very well paid (especially for beginners), we should mention that it can be very emotionally and personally rewarding for people who love animals.
* Based on information from the May 2021 salary report from the BLS. The figures represent accumulated data for all states of employment for Animal Trainers. BLS data represents averages and medians for workers at all levels of education and experience. This data doesn't represent starting salaries.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.