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Career and Education Opportunities for Animal Trainers in Columbia, Missouri

Animal trainer career and educational opportunities abound in Columbia, Missouri. There are currently 450 working animal trainers in Missouri; this should grow by 12% to 500 working animal trainers in the state by 2016. This is not quite as good as the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for animal trainers are expected to grow by about 20.4%. In general, animal trainers train animals for riding, harness, or obedience, or assisting persons with disabilities.

Income for animal trainers is about $11 per hour or $24,480 annually on average in Missouri. Nationally, their income is about $13 per hour or $27,270 yearly. Compared with people working in the overall category of Animal Care, people working as animal trainers in Missouri earn more. They earn more than people working in the overall category of Animal Care nationally.

There are two schools within twenty-five miles of Columbia where you can study to be an animal trainer, among thirteen schools of higher education total in the Columbia area. The most common level of education for animal trainers is a high school diploma or GED. You can expect to spend only a short time training to become an animal trainer if you already have a high school diploma.


Animal Trainer video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, animal trainers train animals for riding, harness, or obedience, or assisting persons with disabilities. They also accustom animals to human voice and contact; and condition animals to respond to commands.

Animal trainers evaluate animals in order to establish their temperaments and aptitude for training. They also conduct training programs in order to develop desired animal behaviors for competition, entertainment, obedience, and riding. Equally important, animal trainers have to talk to and interact with animals so as to familiarize them to human voices and contact. They are often called upon to observe animals' physical conditions in order to uncover illness or unhealthy conditions requiring medical care. They are expected to feed and exercise animals, and furnish other general care such as cleaning and maintaining holding and performance areas. Finally, animal trainers advise animal owners regarding the purchase of specific animals.

Every day, animal trainers are expected to be able to evaluate problems as they arise. They need to articulate ideas and problems.

It is important for animal trainers to keep records documenting animal health and behavior. They are often called upon to administer prescribed medications to animals. They also cue or signal animals during performances. They are sometimes expected to place tack or harnesses on horses so as to accustom horses to the feel of equipment. Somewhat less frequently, animal trainers are also expected to manage mating of stallions and mares, and assist mares during foaling.

They also have to be able to train horses or other equines for riding or other work, using knowledge of breed characteristics and the peculiarities of each animal and use oral and/or hand commands so as to condition horses to carry riders or to pull horse-drawn equipment. And finally, they sometimes have to retrain horses to break bad habits, such as kicking and resisting bridling and grooming.

Like many other jobs, animal trainers must have exceptional integrity and be reliable.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Columbia include:

  • Residential Life Director. Coordinate activities for residents of boarding schools, college fraternities or sororities, college dormitories, or similar establishments. Order supplies and determine need for maintenance, repairs, and furnishings. May maintain household records and assign rooms. May refer residents to counseling resources if needed.


William Woods University - Fulton, MO

William Woods University, One University Avenue, Fulton, MO 65251-1098. William Woods University is a small university located in Fulton, Missouri. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 2,287 students and an admission rate of 85%. William Woods University has a bachelor's degree program in Equestrian/Equine Studies which graduated thirty-six students in 2008.

Stephens College - Columbia, MO

Stephens College, 1200 E Broadway, Columbia, MO 65215. Stephens College is a small college located in Columbia, Missouri. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 1,147 students and an admission rate of 71%. Stephens College has a bachelor's degree program in Equestrian/Equine Studies which graduated six students in 2008.


Certified Pet Dog Trainer: A trainer who has received the Certified Pet Dog Trainer credential has met eligibility requirements and has successfully demonstrated his or her knowledge by passing the certification exam.

For more information, see the Certification Council For Pet Dog Trainers website.


Columbia, Missouri
Columbia, Missouri photo by Grey_Wanderer

Columbia is situated in Boone County, Missouri. It has a population of over 100,733, which has grown by 19.2% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Columbia, 85, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Columbia are valued at $171,800 on average, which is below the state average. In 2008, three hundred thirty-five new homes were constructed in Columbia, down from six hundred fifty-three the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Columbia are educational services, health care, and accommodation and food services. For men, it is educational services, accommodation and food services, and health care. The average travel time to work is about 15 minutes. More than 50.5% of Columbia residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 24.0%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Columbia is 6.8%, which is less than Missouri's average of 8.9%.

The percentage of Columbia residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 40.9%, is less than both the national and state average. Sugar Grove Church, Fairview Church and Emmanuel Church are among the churches located in Columbia. The most common religious groups are the Southern Baptist Convention, the Catholic Church and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

Columbia is home to the Columbia Country Club and the Columbia Plaza as well as Nickell Park and Stephens Park. Shopping centers in the area include Whitegate Shopping Center, North County Shopping Center and Biscayne Mall. Visitors to Columbia can choose from Churchill's, Columbia Super 8 Motel and Arrow Head Motel LLC for temporary stays in the area.