o Brief Description: A certified animal behaviorist creates a case study of animals that are displaying problematic behaviors. In the companion animal field this can be seen in owned pets as well as in animal sheltering. Other animal behaviorists may be employed in zoos and aquariums, in the agriculture industry, in research settings, and even as professors in universities. This is different from an animal trainer in that an animal behaviorist focuses more on behavior, welfare, and enrichment for animals as opposed to teaching owners to teach specific skills/tricks to animals.
o Approximate Annual Salary: Salary will depend on a variety of factors including an individual’s credibility, education, experience, client base, location, and certifications. Salaries have been seen to range from approximately $36,000 per year to upwards of $74,000 per year.
o Education Requirements: A certified animal behaviorist should have a PhD (a Master’s to become an Associate Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist) in animal behavior and an understanding of animal behavior, welfare, and enrichment. This can be focused on a variety of animals (farmed, laboratory, companion animals, horses, etc.), even if you’re planning to work with companion animals specifically. You must then become certified with The Animal Behavior Society (see additional resources). You will want to look for a graduate program specializing in applied animal behavior, animal behavior/welfare, ethology, or psychology as you continue your studies. You will want to find a faculty adviser who understands what you would like to do with your degrees. Online graduate degrees are currently not recognized by the Animal Behavior Society as acceptable degree programs. Keep this in mind when researching your graduate options.
o Course Suggestions: Courses on animal behavior are good courses to take (consider an ANSC 499 behavior course when offered). Course in ethology or psychology are also good courses to take. ANSC 471 (ANSC Leaders and Entrepreneurship) is a good course to take, especially if an individual is planning on being self-employed.
o Internship and Volunteer Opportunities: The animal behavior internship is a good option for students looking into this career. This is offered each semester through the Champaign County Humane Society. You may also want to look for other internships with zoos, shelters, and other facilities where you will have opportunities to observe animal behavior or work in welfare, enrichment, or behavioral modification.
o Additional Resources: