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Career profile Animal Caretaker

Also known as Animal Care Giver (ACG), Aquarist, Dog Bather, Dog Groomer, Groomer, Kennel Attendant, Kennel Technician (Kennel Tech), Pet Groomer, Pet Stylist, Zookeeper

Animal Caretaker

Also known as Animal Care Giver (ACG), Aquarist, Dog Bather

Interests Profile
  • Realistic
  • Conventional
  • Social
Pay Range
$19,310 - $40,210 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Monitoring
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Active Listening
Knowledge Areas
  • Customer and Personal Service
  • Administrative
  • Education and Training
Core tasks
  • Feed and water animals according to schedules and feeding instructions.
  • Provide treatment to sick or injured animals, or contact veterinarians to secure treatment.
  • Examine and observe animals to detect signs of illness, disease, or injury.
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What does an Animal Caretaker do?

Animal Caretakers feed, water, groom, bathe, exercise, or otherwise provide care to promote and maintain the well-being of pets and other animals that are not raised for consumption, such as dogs, cats, race horses, ornamental fish or birds, zoo animals, and mice.

In addition, Animal Caretakers

  • work in settings such as kennels, animal shelters, zoos, circuses, and aquariums,
  • may keep records of feedings, treatments, and animals received or discharged,
  • may clean, disinfect, and repair cages, pens, or fish tanks.

What kind of tasks does an Animal Caretaker perform regularly?

Animal Caretakers are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Feed and water animals according to schedules and feeding instructions.
  • Provide treatment to sick or injured animals, or contact veterinarians to secure treatment.
  • Examine and observe animals to detect signs of illness, disease, or injury.
  • Mix food, liquid formulas, medications, or food supplements according to instructions, prescriptions, and knowledge of animal species.
  • Do facility laundry and clean, organize, maintain, and disinfect animal quarters, such as pens and stables, and equipment, such as saddles and bridles.
  • Exercise animals to maintain their physical and mental health.
  • Collect and record animal information, such as weight, size, physical condition, treatments received, medications given, and food intake.
  • Respond to questions from patrons, and provide information about animals, such as behavior, habitat, breeding habits, or facility activities.
  • Answer telephones and schedule appointments.
  • Advise pet owners on how to care for their pets' health.
  • Perform animal grooming duties, such as washing, brushing, clipping, and trimming coats, cutting nails, and cleaning ears.

The above responsibilities are specific to Animal Caretakers. More generally, Animal Caretakers are involved in several broader types of activities:

Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Performing General Physical Activities
Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling materials.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Handling and Moving Objects
Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.

What is an Animal Caretaker salary?

The median salary for an Animal Caretaker is $26,080, and the average salary is $28,380. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Animal Caretaker salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Animal Caretakers earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Animal Caretakers earn less than $19,310 per year, 25% earn less than $22,030, 75% earn less than $31,480, and 90% earn less than $40,210.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Animal Caretakers is expected to change by 34.4%, and there should be roughly 56,400 open positions for Animal Caretakers every year.

Median annual salary
Typical salary range
$19,310 - $40,210
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)

What personality traits are common among Animal Caretakers?


Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as an Animal Caretaker are usually higher in their Realistic and Conventional interests.

Animal Caretakers typically have very strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Also, Animal Caretakers typically have strong Conventional interests. Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.


People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as an Animal Caretaker tend to value Relationships, Support, and Independence.

Most importantly, Animal Caretakers moderately value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Second, Animal Caretakers moderately value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Lastly, Animal Caretakers moderately value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Animal Caretakers must consistently demonstrate qualities such as integrity, dependability, and self-control.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Animal Caretakers, ranked by importance:

Job requires being honest and ethical.
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.

What education and training do Animal Caretakers need?

Working as an Animal Caretaker usually requires a high school diploma.

Animal Caretakers need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with this occupation.

Educational degrees among Animal Caretakers

  • 6.9% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 30.5% completed high school or secondary school
  • 28.2% completed some college coursework
  • 10.0% earned a Associate's degree
  • 20.3% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 3.0% earned a Master's degree
  • 1.0% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Animal Caretakers

Animal Caretakers may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as customer and personal service, administrative, or education and training knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Animal Caretakers might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Knowledge of administrative and office procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and workplace terminology.
Education and Training
Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Administration and Management
Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.

Important Abilities needed by Animal Caretakers

Animal Caretakers must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Animal Caretakers need abilities such as oral comprehension, oral expression, and problem sensitivity in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Animal Caretakers, ranked by their relative importance.

Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
Information Ordering
The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
Static Strength
The ability to exert maximum muscle force to lift, push, pull, or carry objects.

Critical Skills needed by Animal Caretakers

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Animal Caretakers frequently use skills like monitoring, reading comprehension, and active listening to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Animal Caretakers, ranked by their relative importance.

Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
Service Orientation
Actively looking for ways to help people.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.