Job description

Non-farm animal caretakers care and service animals by feeding, grooming, exercising and training pets. Whether it is at a boarding kennel or a rescue shelter, they are tasked with providing basic care to every animal, including dogs, cats, birds, horses and marine mammals. Some animal caretakers are also professional pet sitters.


    • Care for animals by providing them with food and water throughout a shift
    • Prepare meals by mixing formulas, researching supplements or administering medication
    • Perform basic hygiene tasks, such as bathing, clipping nails and grooming
    • Monitor and evaluate animals for health issues, behavioural challenges and diets
    • Clean, disinfect and repair animal cages inside veterinary clinics or animal shelters
    • Offer companionship to animals that have been abandoned by their owners
    • Exercise animals to help them lose weight, build up an energy or stimulate happiness
    • Train or condition animals to obey commands and improve their behaviours
    • Work with other professionals to establish a plan to rehabilitate animals
    • Conduct administrative tasks, like record keeping and screening candidates who want to adopt a pet
    • Inoculate animals to ensure they have their latest immunisation shots
    • Maintain inventories of food, vitamins, tools and medical supplies
    • Clean, sterilise and disinfect surgical equipment and tools

Skills and qualities

Physical stamina
Attention to detail
Time management

Job outlook

Projected growth
The projected growth rate of employment in the US from 2018 to 2028, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme. The national average growth rate for all professions is 5%.


New jobs
The number of jobs projected to become available in the US between 2018 and 2028, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme.


Automation risk


Career progression

There is plenty of room to advance in animal caretaking, mostly because more US households are choosing to have pets instead of children.

With the right attitude and dedication, there are many opportunities to grow and even become an industry authority in a diverse array of fields. You could start by volunteering at an animal shelter, for example, which with time could lead you to becoming a charity coordinator or a veterinary technician.

Working conditions

Average hours

40h/ week

Typical schedule

Shift Work

Evenings, weekends, holidays occasionally

Non-farm animal caretakers will have irregular hours depending on where they’re employed. A rescue shelter or a veterinary clinic may operate 24 hours, for example, but a grooming facility may operate during regular business hours.

Someone who is self-employed, on the other hand, can create their own hours, especially if they specialise in pet sitting, walking, training or grooming, and will have clients with irregular hours, too.

As a result, you could work a standard 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday week schedule, or you may need to work evenings, weekends and holidays on occasion.


Bottom 10%




Top 10%


Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.

Qualifications and training

Education level

High school

On-the-job training

Study time

3 months

To become a non-farm animal caretaker, you primarily need on-the-job experience. No formal education beyond high school is a requirement, though it does help to have postsecondary qualifications in specialised or technical fields.

In certain areas, however, you will need certification and licensing, which will vary on the jurisdiction. For example, if one of your main responsibilities is grooming, then you will need to attend a government-accredited grooming school and complete a minimum level of hours.

Last Updated: Wednesday, November 2, 2022

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