Animal Handlers

Horse Handler and USDA rep

Anybody who works directly with animals, from the caretaker of your local park's petting zoo to the wildlife biologist who reintroduces wild animals to national parks, is an animal handler. Animal handlers care for, train, and study animals in such places as zoos, parks, research laboratories, animal breeding facilities, rodeos, and museums. An animal handler's job involves feeding the animals, cleaning their living and sleeping areas, preparing medications, and other aspects of basic care. A handler may also be actively involved in an animal's training, and in presenting animals to the public in shows and parks. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there are about 161,820 nonfarm animal caretakers in the United States.

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Quick Facts
Alternate Title(s) None
Duties Care for (feed, clean, provide medications, etc.), train, and study animals
Salary Range Below $25,000 to $75,000
Work Environment Indoors/Outdoors
Best Geographical Location(s) Opportunities are available throughout the country
Minimum Education Level
  • High School Diploma
  • Some Postsecondary Training
School Subjects
  • Agriculture
  • Biology
Experience Part time, volunteer
Personality Traits
  • Athletic
  • Hands On
  • Realistic
  • Business Management
  • Coaching/Physical Training
  • Organizational
Certification or Licensing Recommended
Special Requirements None
Employment Prospects Good
Advancement Prospects Fair
Outlook Faster than the Average
Career Ladder
  • Zookeeper or Zoo Curator
  • Experienced Animal Handler
  • Entry-Level Animal Handler