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Animal Care and Service Workers Job Outlook

Overall employment of animal care and service workers is projected to grow by 23 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations. However, employment growth will vary by specialty: for example, employment of nonfarm animal caretakers is projected to grow by 28 percent, while employment of animal trainers is projected to grow by 3 percent.  

Animal care and service workers will be needed to keep up with a growing pet population. In addition, many people consider their pets to be a part of their family and are willing to pay more for pet care than owners have in the past. Employment in kennels, grooming shops, pet stores, and veterinary clinics and hospitals is projected to increase to keep up with the growing demand for animal services.

Demand for zookeepers, marine mammal trainers, and horse trainers is projected to grow more slowly. Many work at zoos, shows, and amusement and recreation establishments, none of which is expected to add as many positions as other traditional pet care facilities. Furthermore, the cost of owning and riding horses is still too high for many people, so employment of horse trainers is not expected to grow as fast as employment of those who work with companion pets, such as dogs and cats. 

Job Prospects

Job opportunities should be excellent for most positions. Employment growth and high turnover are expected to lead to many openings for dog trainers, groomers, pet sitters, kennel attendants, and caretakers in shelters and rescue leagues. As the companion animal population grows and the number of pet services increase, more workers will be needed. In addition, entry requirements are low for most animal care occupations, so positions should continue to be available for workers looking to enter the field.  

However, candidates will face strong competition for positions as marine mammal trainers, horse trainers, and zookeepers. The relatively few positions and the popularity of the occupations should result in far more applicants than available positions.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition