Animal Handler

Help Vets and Shelter Workers keep their animals calm and under control.
picture of Animal Handler

Quick Stats


Salary Range
$16,000 – $35,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor


What do Animal Handlers do?

Animal Handlers can work either in a veterinary office or in an animal shelter. Regardless of who employs them though, the duties of an Animal Handler is pretty much the same: handling animals, and keeping them calm and happy.

At a veterinary office, Animal Handlers mainly see the usual pets, like cats and dogs. Depending on the type of Vet you work for, you can also deal with livestock, birds, or small animals, like ferrets or mice.

No matter what you’re handling though, you’re the one in the exam room keeping the pet calm and still while the Vet does the exam. If something big, like surgery or a dental procedure, is needed, you set up the room and prepare the animal. You sterilize tools, and shave the part of the animal that will be operated on.

If you work in an animal shelter, you’re also in charge of keeping animals calm. But in this case, it’s while they’re being put in cages or meeting with potential adopters. As sad as it is, another responsibility of your job is to help put animals down. This responsibility exists whether you work for a Vet’s office or an animal shelter.

Safety is a big part of this job. You tend to deal with animals that are scared, under stress, and see you as a stranger, all of which make them more likely to attack. You wear the necessary safety gear, and learn the proper way to handle and care for animals so you can keep yourself and those around you safe.


Should I be an Animal Handler?

You should have a high school degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.
  • Independent: You enjoy flying solo and doing things your own way.
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.

  • Also known as: Animal Husbandry Manager, Animal Husbandry Worker, Barn Hand, Chicken Handler, Hog Handler, Wage Hand

    How to become an Animal Handler

    Most Animal Handlers have no higher education and get on-the-job training. Think about earning a Certificate to increase your competitiveness in the field. Chart?chd=s:9baaaa&chl=no+college+%2896%25%29|certificate+%283%25%29||||&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,96,96
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