The majority of animal trainers work with dogs. However, they can also work with horses or wild animals, such as lions, elephants, dolphins or sea lions.
Dog trainers and dog instructors teach a wide variety of techniques to either domestic or working dogs and their owners and handlers.
Dog training can cover many different areas, including:
Domestic dog trainers may run a series of classes or provide one-to-one support to teach recreational and general obedience skills. This may include:
Police dog trainers are more focused on getting police dogs and their handlers to form a strong partnership. Trainers design, plan and carry out programme's, which are usually delivered residentially in three stages:
Police dog trainers can also be involved in the assessment and purchase of police dogs, liasing with dog breeders, rescue homes and other dog trainers.
Dog trainers who work with service and working dogs usually work around 37 hours each week on a full-time basis. However, this is likely to include some night training. Domestic dog trainers usually run blocks of day, evening and weekend classes. Many work part time.
They may work indoors or outdoors, in a hall or field, depending on the time of year and teaching content. Training is interactive and requires lots of movement.
Many dog trainers work privately, and may make home visits to deliver one-to-one training. A driving licence may be required.
A domestic dog trainer usually charges hourly rates. Working full time, they may earn between £13,500 and £15,000 a year.
A police dog trainer may earn around £21,000 a year.
Highly experienced dog trainers in the police or armed forces may potentially earn £30,000 or more.
Self-employed dog trainers usually have to deduct expenses from their earnings, such as hall rental or equipment costs. Some may supplement their income with another job.
The majority of domestic dog trainers are self-employed. Some may be employed by dog training clubs on a franchise basis, or work within animal rescue centres. Other employers include security organisations, the Royal Air Force (RAF) Police, the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, the police service and HM Revenue and Customs.
There are employment opportunities throughout the UK. The number of jobs is relatively stable, but competition for advertised posts can be high.
It may be possible to find work through personal contacts or by directly approaching training organisations. Vacancies may occasionally be advertised in local newspapers and on websites such as www.animal-job.co.uk.
Entry requirements vary. Whilst there are currently no minimum entry qualifications to become a domestic dog trainer, this is under review and new standards of training and experience are being developed. Experience of handling and training dogs is necessary for starting work and for entry to some courses.
Police dog trainers usually need at least three to five GCSE's (A*-C), including English and maths, and have dog handling and training experience, as well as employment and experience as a serving police officer.
Voluntary work is one way of gaining experience. This may provide a good introduction to working with dogs of different breeds.
A number of relevant courses can be taken before entering this work. These include:
Candidates should check specific entry requirements with individual institutions. Most study options are available on a full- and part-time basis.
It may be possible to enter this career through an appropriate Apprenticeship scheme in animal care.
Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.
Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.
There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The Diploma in environmental and land-based studies may be an advantageous qualification to have achieved prior to further study, an Apprenticeship or employment. Further information can be obtained at www.diplomaelbs.co.uk.
Short study courses are available in dog training and canine behaviour management. These are offered at colleges and training centres throughout the UK. They usually combine practical work and theory.
Membership of a relevant professional body is not essential, but may enhance job prospects. The British Institute of Professional Dog Trainers offers various levels of membership, depending on an individual's qualifications and experience. To join the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, applicants must complete a written, oral and practical assessment.
Dog trainers are expected to undertake continuing professional development (CPD) to maintain their membership with the above organisations.
Oil Drilling Roustabouts and Roughnecks work as part of a small team on offshore oil or gas drilling rigs or production platforms. Roustabouts do unskilled manual labouring jobs on rigs and platforms, and Roughneck is a promotion from roustabout.
Roustabouts do basic tasks to help keep the rig and platform working efficiently and Roughnecks do practical tasks involved in the drilling operation, under the supervision of the driller.
Animal trainers working with dogs should be:
Self-employment is common for domestic dog trainers. With experience, some may join police dog sections as trainers or move into related areas, such as animal behaviour or psychology, or assistance dog training. Entry to some of these roles may require further specialist study.
It may also be possible to become a lecturer on dog training courses.
Army Advice Line: 0845 730 0111
Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT),
PO Box 17, Kempsford GL7 4WZ
Tel: 01285 810811
British Institute of Professional
Dog Trainers (BIPDT)
Tel: 01908 526856
The Kennel Club, 1-5 Clarges Street, Piccadilly, London W1J 8AB
Tel: 0844 463 3980
Royal Air Force Careers
RAF Advice line 0845 605 5555
Additional resources for job seekers and those already in a job.