Pet Care Certifications 101
How and why to get certified.
You're an animal lover and have plenty of experience with pets (or have owned them yourself)...being a pet sitter might be a great job for you! Maybe you've even begun already as an official dog walker, promoting your new pet care business around town. You know you're qualified and you have clientele. So why should you shell out more money to get certified?
Want to know why: Because certification helps pet owners trust you with their beloved animals. Certification also allows you to gain credibility above and beyond your hands-on training. If you're serious about a part-time or full-time career in animal care, certifications are a no-brainer.
- Where to start
- Pet Sitters International (PSI) offers a well-rounded accreditation program comprising educational coursework and testing. Topics covered include pet care (for all breeds, from domestic to barnyard and exotic), health & nutrition (including first aid and behavioral training overviews), grooming, grief counseling, business procedures, and more. Cost ranges from $79 to $279, which includes testing fees, official credentials, logo licensing for your business cards and marketing materials, and discounts on liability insurance premiums and registration for their annual convention.
- Pet Care Services Association offers three levels of by-mail or online pet care provider education and certification, ranging from $117 to $200 -- the lower end being for basic training at an ABKA member discount. The certifications are: Certified Pet Care Technician (CPCT), a basic self-study course; Certified Advanced Pet Care Technician (CAPCT), an intermediate self-study course; and Certified Kennel Operator (CKO), a professional and managerial course for business owners.
- National Association of Professional Pet Sitters(NAAPS) offers an earned certification program through home study. Cost is $125 for just the certification exam or $230 for the home study course, which includes the exam, handbooks, and accompanying videos. Both certification options include a discount on business insurance through the NAPPS. Currently, only Level I Certification through home-study is offered, but Level II Certification is "in the works."
- National Dog Groomers Association of America (NDGAA) offers National Certified Master Groomer training. Exams test both written and practical skills, and groomers must show proficiency in one breed for each group (sporting, non-sporting, short-legged terriers, and long-legged terriers). Cost is approximately $135 to $220.
- Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) offers seminars, workshops, and a certification exam for pet dog trainers (CPDT). Eligibility requirements include: at least 300 hours of dog training experience within the last 5 years (75%, or 225 hours, of which must be teaching experience); a high school diploma or GED; references from a veterinarian, a client, and a colleague; application; acceptance of the code of ethics; and testing at one of their 19 regional facilities in the US, Canada, or Tokyo, Japan. Certification is $335 for APDT members and $385 for non-members.
The most popular pet care certifications are listed below. For more specialized pet care certification and educational information -- such as working with exotic breeds, marine mammals, farm animals, or specialized pet training -- please contact your local ASPCA or Humane Society for guidance.
Know the laws
In some states, you may be required to have both licensing and insurance in order to provide pet care services. Check with the national organizations for pet care professionals above, the Better Business Bureau, as well as local, state, and federal agencies to see what the minimum requirements are for establishing a pet care business in your area. Providing this information up front also increases your chances of being hired by prospective clients.
Advantages of getting certified
According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, most animal care workers learn their trade through on-the-job training -- by completing an informal apprenticeship, usually lasting 6 to 10 weeks; or by taking an entry-level job with an established pet care business, animal hospital, or shelter. With or without this prior experience -- and for just $100 to $300 -- certification will make you a more confident and more attractive pet care provider.
More Pet Care Resources
Want to start finding more pet care jobs in your area? Search locally on Care.com to find opportunities near you!