Animal care and service workers held about 241,600 jobs in 2014. About 85 percent of these workers were nonfarm animal caretakers, and 15 percent were animal trainers.
Animal care and service workers are employed in a variety of settings. Many work at kennels; others work at zoos, stables, animal shelters, pet stores, veterinary clinics, and aquariums. Mobile groomers and pet sitters typically travel to customers' homes. Caretakers of show and sports animals must travel to competitions. Nearly 1 in 4 animal care and service workers were self-employed in 2014.
Although most animal care and service workers consider the work enjoyable and rewarding, they may face unpleasant and emotionally distressing situations at times. For example, those who work in shelters may observe abused, injured, or sick animals. Some caretakers may have to help veterinarians euthanize injured or unwanted animals. In addition, a lot the work involves physical tasks, such as moving and cleaning cages, lifting bags of food, and exercising animals.
Injuries and Illnesses
Nonfarm animal caretakers have a higher rate of injuries and illnesses than the national average. Caretakers may be bitten, scratched, or kicked when working with scared or aggressive animals. Injuries may also happen while the caretaker is holding, cleaning, or restraining an animal.
Animals need care around the clock, so many facilities, such as kennels, zoos, animal shelters, and stables operate 24 hours a day. Therefore, caretakers often work irregular hours including evenings, weekends, and holidays. About 1 in 4 animal trainers and about 1 in 3 animal caretakers worked part time in 2014. Self-employed workers often set their own schedule.