Career Opportunities in Animal Care & Control

Working with animals : Career Outlook: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Job Opportunities in Animal Care & Control

Submitted by Laura Lanza, Calcasieu Parish Animal Control and Protection Department, Lake Charles, Louisiana. Laura developed this information to distribute to high school students who participate in career day. If you know someone interested in the challenging field of Animal Control, then read on!

The challenges and rewards of a job in Animal Control are extensive. The field of Animal Control is one of the fastest growing professions in the country. The days of the “dogcatcher” and the “pounds” are quickly disappearing forever! Animal Control Officers and other employees in the field of Animal Control work and strive to serve the public as the frontline of defense to protect the health and safety of humans and animals.

The 5-point focus of an animal control program is:

  1. Public health.
  2. Public safety.
  3. Law enforcement.
  4. Protection of pets and people with education and intervention.
  5. Agency interaction in communication and cooperative endeavors.

The National Animal Care & Control Association sums it up perfectly:

“Animal Control is a program that effectively treats the symptoms while seeking to eliminate the causes by compassionately using the tools of education and enforcement.”

Field Operations:

  • Animal Control Officers
  • Humane Officers
  • Cruelty Investigators
  • Livestock Officers
  • Field Supervisors
  • Rabies Control/Bite Investigators

Shelter Operations:

  • Kennel Master
  • Operations Manager
  • Shelter Manager
  • Animal Care Technicians
  • Animal Care Attendants
  • Euthanasia Technicians
  • Veterinary Technicians
  • Animal Groomers


Community/Office Operations:

  • Clerks I & II
  • Secretaries I – II – III
  • Executive Secretaries
  • Data Processing Clerks
  • Dispatchers
  • Receptionists
  • Adoption Counselors
  • Executive Directors/Managers
  • Public Relations
  • Humane Educators

Salary Ranges:

Minimum wage – up; increases usually available based upon specialized training. (Varies by geographical area. Also depends upon the size of the community and their commitment to modern animal control programs and whether the animal control department is privately run as a humane society with joint service contracts for animal control or a governmentally operated department)

Earning Potential:

Greatest opportunities range in upper-level trained positions (management and investigator levels can earn potentially $50,000 – $85,000 in metropolitan areas; $30,000 – $45,000 in mid-sized communities; $12,000 – $24,000 in small communities).

Educational/Training Requirements:

Minimum high school or GED for entry-level positions; college degree in a field of study related to the nature of the job is preferred (or some experience to compensate). Most positions require ongoing specialized training (i.e.: certified euthanasia technician, certified in chemical capture, National Animal Control Association certification, etc.). Employment usually requires mandatory drug screening, background checks, and a valid driver’s license.

Areas of Academic Interests:

Business, math, science, biology, English, zoology, electives, humanities, sociology, health, psychology, computer sciences, etc.

Advancement Opportunities:

Animal Control is one of the fastest growing professions in the country. This area involves public health and safety (rabies and other zoonotic diseases, animal bites, etc.) and law enforcement (local, state and national laws pertaining to animals).

Smaller communities are usually limited in positions and advancement opportunities. Small cities sometimes operate as one or two-person departments. Mid-sized and larger cities offer the most variety and opportunities for advancement within the Animal Control structure.

Employees entering the Animal Control field in the 90’s, that remain dedicated and committed to professionalism, have the potential to be “administrators” in the future.

Pros and Cons of Working in the Field of Animal Control


The ability to protect pets and people.

There is a joy to adopting animals to loving, responsible people who have planned for the lifetime commitment to a pet.

There are opportunities to rescue animals from cruelty situations and prosecute the individuals who often torture & abuse animals.

It is gratifying to assure that impounded animals are being provided the proper and humane care at the shelter, until the pet owner reclaims them or until they are (hopefully) adopted.

There is an inner peace to know that if no one will care for the surplus, unwanted, diseased, and even vicious animals, your concern will guarantee they are provided a humane and dignified death when there are no other alternatives.

Animal Control work is NEVER dull, and the challenges are never-ending!

Unusual animal calls offer a variety of work and provides an excitement to meet the unexpected challenges.

When good programs are developed to change outdated systems, it feels good to know your efforts made a difference.

There are friendships that develop with people all over the country from your work efforts that can last a lifetime, because you genuinely understand each others jobs.

There is scientific data that has proven pets are beneficial to human health. It is a great feeling to match a perfect pet to the right person.

Animal Control employees in the 90’s have benefited from the efforts of those preceding us; they

professionalized this field of work into careers we can all be proud of!


It’s frustrating to know you often satisfy the person making a complaint but make the pet owner angry when you do your job.

The general public often does not understand the need for animal control enforcement until it is their child that is bitten by a dog or their pet is attacked.

Pets evoke tremendous emotions in people so Animal Control workers often observe otherwise “decent” people, at their very worst in attitudes and conduct when the officer impounds their pet or issues them a citation.

Many people still do not believe, or won’t accept, the realities of pet overpopulation and blame Animal Control for killing animals, instead of those who create the problems.

People want to own animals but often don’t want to accept the personal & financial responsibility of pet ownership, then blame others when there are problems.

Animal Control employees are often expected to do incredible feats and have expert knowledge without receiving adequate training, compensation or recognition.

Animal Control workers suffer tremendous stress from the verbal and physical abuse from citizens, depression from animal euthanasia, and are susceptible to communicable diseases and serious injuries from both animals and humans.

A long-term commitment in Animal Control requires tremendous dedication to the animals and the public.

Some positions require a willingness to work long hours and be “on-call” at night, weekends and holidays to answer emergency calls for service.