o Brief Description: A service dog instructor or instructor assistant takes part in the training process of service dogs. This training requires not only the training of the dogs, but the training of handlers (volunteers with the organization) and with their future partners (those individuals with disabilities who will obtain the dog). There are several different ways one can get involved as an instructor or service dog trainer. Many programs require the interested individual to take part in an apprenticeship program. Other people are promoted to this position after starting as a volunteer or a kennel assistant. Individual organizations vary.
o Approximate Salary Range: Salary range varies depending on the budget of the organization (most are non-profit organizations). In terms of training careers, the pay here may be lower than as a pet dog trainer with your own clients.
o Education Requirements: A Bachelor’s degree in an animal-related field is required for this position in addition to the completion of an apprenticeship with the organization after being hired. Organizations will look more highly upon those individuals that do have prior experience in dog behavior and training techniques. Additional certifications can be obtained from private training organizations.
o Course Suggestions: Animal behavior and training courses as offered by the department are highly suggested, especially if they focus on dog training. You may also want to consider taking ANSC 305 (Human-Animal Interactions) to get a better understanding of the relationship dynamics between service dogs and the people they serve.
o Internship/Volunteer Opportunities: Spend some time volunteering with the Illini Service Dogs program to get an idea of what is required of these dogs and handlers. You may also want to take on the Animal Behavior internship at the Champaign County Humane Society or with Jodi Vee’s Fun Dog Training to get more experience training and handling a variety of dogs.
o Additional Resources: