Information and Resources

Job Skills and Abilities for Animal Trainers

Important Information When Aspiring to Work with Exotic Animals:

  • Knowledge of animals, skill in operant conditioning training, and public speaking
  • Physical Conditioning
  • Animal Husbandry
  • Apprenticeship Programs/Trainer Certification

The three most important aspects of work with exotic animals are: knowledge of the animals, skill in operant conditioning training, especially bridge and target training, and public speaking and presentation expertise. However, there are some other very important job skills that can give you the edge when trying to land that job.

Physical conditioning is an important aspect of work with animals. The jobs are physically demanding, require athleticism and endurance, and are high profile. While most employers would not state physique as a job requirement, the fact is that with thousands of applicants for each position, employers can afford to be picky. If you want to be in the running, be fit and in condition, have very good swimming skills, be comfortable in the water, and consider being certified as a scuba diver.

Other valuable assets are good knowledge of animal nutrition and supplementation, food processing, water quality control and filtration, handling of hazardous chemicals, and proficiency in driving large trucks.

Apprenticeship programs:

Kayce Cover, Syn Alia Training Systems, offers apprenticeship opportunities as well as trainer certification. Also available is the Syn Alia Series: An Introduction to Bridge and Target Training Technique, by Kayce Cover, B.S., Animal Science, edited by Jenifer Zeligs Hurley, Ph.D.