Although many animal care and service workers require little more than a high school diploma, the same can’t be said for dog trainers — or almost any other animal trainer, for that matter. Most employers ask their canine trainers to hold some sort of certification. Community colleges, vocational schools and private training academies all provide education in training animals. If you’re hoping to become a dog trainer one day, it’s best you get a little education under your belt to improve job prospects and earnings.
In 2011, animal trainers averaged $30,510 a year. Because certain industries – namely motion pictures – pay higher salaries for their trainers, median wage is often used to predict earning potential. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, half of all trainers earned $25,980 a year or less. Both figures, however, fail to differentiate one type of trainer from the next. A dog trainer is paid a much different scale than a horse trainer, for example.
Dog Training Salaries:
While dog trainers can earn as little as $7.76 an hour up to as much as $29.59 an hour, Animal Behavior College estimates the average wage at $20 an hour, as of 2010. However, some trainers earn upward of $150 an hour – especially those with a great deal of experience and in certain areas of the country.
As with any job, location affects salaries, and a dog trainer is no exception. A survey conducted by the Economic Research Institute found that dog trainers earn the most in Los Angeles, California, where salaries average $61,590 a year. Those in New York City also fare better than most, earning an average of $45,617. The same, however, can’t be said for dog trainers in Chicago, where salaries average $29,990. Salaries in Phoenix are also relatively low, with dog trainers earning just over $25,000 a year.
In addition to an hourly wage, it isn’t uncommon for dog trainers to earn bonuses or commissions for their work, increasing their income for the year. Petropolis, an academy for animal grooming and training, shows that dog trainers can earn up to an additional $10,304 a year in bonuses, and anywhere from $2,150 to $9,000 in commissions. Of course, this all depends on the employer.