Monday, May 7, 2012

How to Become an Animal Trainer

Many people have an interest in working with animals as a profession. In truth there are many different types of jobs one can consider. Animal related professions include veterinarians, veterinary technicians, zoo keepers, pet store employees, wildlife educators, breeders, wildlife rehabilitation, animal rescue and welfare organizations, groomers, boarding facilities, field biologist, and of course animal trainer!

In the world of animal training there are additional categories. You may have an interest in presenting educational or entertaining shows or training zoo animals for health care. Some people train animals for TV and film. Other animals are trained for search and rescue and for assisting people. Animal training expertise is also required to work as a consultant to help solve animal behavior problems.

Every type of animal related profession requires certain skill sets and some require college degrees. The world of animal training is no exception. The science that is the foundation behind all animal training is called Behavior Analysis. Individuals interested in becoming trainers should invest time in studying this science. There is no secret to animal training, nor is there any whispering involved. Influencing animal behavior is all based on the principles of behavior analysis.

Knowing the science and applying it are two different things. Animal training is all about practical application. This means practice, practice, practice. Ideally you want this to happen with the guidance of an experienced trainer. This will help you improve your technique tremendously. You can learn about the science and how to train by attending animal training lectures and workshops. You can also get your feet wet by watching instructional DVDs.

Getting educated is an important part of being a great trainer. However hands-on experience is also critical. Find ways to spend time with animals. In the beginning it may mean volunteering or accepting the less glamorous jobs working with animals. However any professional animal trainer will tell you, those experiences are worth their weight in gold. There is always something to learn from the time spent caring for animals. Zoos, animal shelters, wildlife rehab facilities and some veterinary facilities will accept volunteers. Take advantage of these opportunities to enhance your hands-on experience. Exceptional volunteers are often the ones who land full time jobs. Treat your volunteer work as an important step towards becoming a professional in the animal world.

If you are looking to hang out with millionaires, keep in mind most animal professions don’t lead to six figure incomes. However working with animals can certainly be rewarding on a personal level. And if you are a positive reinforcement trainer you can bet your work is making a difference in the lives of the animals you train. You also get to be on the receiving end of a lot of love coming right back at you.  If animal training is your dream job, go for it! The world needs more people sharing kind and gentle ways to work with animals.

Barbara Heidenreich
Copyright 2012 Good Bird Inc

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