Animal Handlers

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 154,350 nonfarm animal caretakers in the United States.

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

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