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Top 11 Animal Trainer Certifications

This article provides an overview of the top certifications for animal trainers, including required coursework and examination details.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 17 min read

Certifications are important for animal trainers in the job market because they demonstrate a commitment to the profession and a high level of knowledge and skill. Certifications also provide employers with assurance that the trainer has been trained in an area relevant to their job and can competently handle animals. Having certifications will help animal trainers stand out from other applicants, as employers value professionals who have taken the time to pursue further education and training. Additionally, certifications can lead to higher salaries and better job opportunities.

The purpose of this article is to review the top certifications for Animal Trainers and explain how they can help enhance an animal trainer's career.

What are Animal Trainer Certifications?

Animal trainer certification is a type of professional credential that recognizes individuals who have achieved a certain level of training and expertise in the area of animal behavior. The certification process typically involves passing an exam, meeting certain education requirements, and providing proof of experience working with animals. This certification offers several benefits for both trainers and their clients.

By obtaining animal trainer certification, professionals are able to demonstrate their knowledge and commitment to the field. By having this credential, trainers can increase their credibility among potential employers, as well as build confidence in their services by reassuring clients that they have met the necessary criteria to become certified. Additionally, certification can provide access to resources such as networking opportunities and continuing education classes that may not be available without it.

Overall, animal trainer certification is a valuable tool for those interested in pursuing a career in animal behavior. It provides recognition for professionals while also offering assurance to clients that they are receiving quality services from knowledgeable providers.

Pro Tip: When choosing an animal trainer certification program, look for one that provides hands-on experience and mentorship opportunities. This will give you the opportunity to work with experienced trainers and gain practical experience in the field.

Related: What does an Animal Trainer do?

Top 11 Animal Trainer Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Animal Trainers today.

1. Certified Professional Animal Trainer (CPAT)

Certified Professional Animal Trainer (CPAT) is a certification program designed to recognize individuals who have demonstrated knowledge and skills in the field of animal training. It is offered through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT).

The CPAT program consists of two parts: an online course and an assessment. The online course covers topics such as learning theory, behavior modification, animal husbandry, and safety protocols. The assessment consists of a written exam and a practical skills evaluation.

It typically takes between six months and one year to complete the CPAT program. To get started, you will need to register with the CCPDT and pay a registration fee of $50. After that, you will be able to access the online course materials and take the assessments when you are ready.

The cost of completing the CPAT program varies depending on how long it takes you to complete it. In addition to the registration fee, there is also a fee for each module in the online course ($50 per module) and for each assessment ($100 per assessment).

2. Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB)

A Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB) is a professional who specializes in the scientific study of animal behavior and its application to the welfare of animals. The certification is provided by the Animal Behavior Society (ABS).

To become certified, an individual must have a doctoral degree in animal behavior or a related field from an accredited university, as well as at least three years of experience in applied animal behavior. The certification process also requires that applicants pass both written and oral examinations.

The cost to apply for CAAB certification is $400 USD. This fee covers the cost of processing the application and administering the examinations. Once accepted, applicants must pay an additional fee of $200 USD for their certificate and membership in the ABS.

The entire process typically takes around six months to complete, depending on each applicant’s academic background and experience level.

3. Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC)

A Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC) is a professional who has received specialized training in the science of animal behavior and is certified by the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC). The certification process requires completion of an extensive coursework and passing a rigorous exam. It typically takes between two to three years to complete the certification process.

To become a CDBC, applicants must first complete an approved course such as Applied Animal Behavior Science, Principles of Learning and Cognition, or Canine Behavioral Biology. After completing the required coursework, applicants must pass an exam administered by the IAABC. This exam covers topics such as canine behavior, communication, learning theory, problem-solving techniques, and ethical considerations. Once certified, CDBCs can provide specialized services such as behavioral assessments, consultations with pet owners on how to modify their pet’s behavior, and educational programs for pet owners and professionals.

The cost of becoming a CDBC varies depending on which program you choose to pursue. Generally speaking, it will cost anywhere from $500-$2000 for the required coursework and exam fees.

4. Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT)

A Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) is a professional who has completed a formal program in veterinary technology and has passed the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). The CVT is qualified to provide medical care for animals under the supervision of a veterinarian.

It typically takes two to three years to complete the necessary coursework and clinical rotations required to become a CVT. Most programs are offered at community colleges or technical schools, but some universities also offer accredited programs.

To become a CVT, you must first complete an accredited veterinary technician program. After completing the program, you will need to pass the VTNE exam in order to be certified. Once you have passed the exam, you can apply for state licensure if required by your state.

The cost of becoming a CVT varies depending on the school and program chosen, as well as other factors such as living expenses and books. Generally speaking, it can cost anywhere from $5,000-$20,000 or more depending on these factors.

5. Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT)

Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT) is a certification program offered by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT). It is designed to recognize those individuals who have demonstrated a high level of knowledge and expertise in the field of dog training. The CPDT certification is an internationally recognized credential that validates a professional’s ability to use humane, science-based methods in their work with dogs.

The process of becoming certified as a CPDT involves passing an exam and meeting certain requirements. The exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions covering topics such as animal behavior, learning theory, canine health, nutrition, and safety. To qualify for the exam, applicants must have at least 300 hours of experience working with dogs in a professional setting over the last three years or complete an approved course from an accredited institution.

The cost for the CPDT certification varies depending on where you take the exam and how much preparation you do beforehand. Generally speaking, it can cost between $200-$500 USD to become certified.

Once certified as a CPDT, professionals are required to maintain their credentials by completing continuing education credits every two years. This helps ensure that they remain up-to-date on the latest research and best practices in dog training.

6. Certified Pet Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA)

Certified Pet Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA) is a professional certification program for dog trainers. It is the only internationally recognized certification program for pet dog trainers, and it is administered by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT). The CPDT-KA certification requires that applicants demonstrate knowledge and skills in areas such as learning theory, animal husbandry, canine behavior, teaching methods, and business ethics.

The process of becoming certified typically takes between 6 to 12 months. During this time, applicants must complete a minimum of 300 hours of professional experience working with dogs and their owners. They must also pass an exam consisting of 150 multiple choice questions covering topics such as learning theory, behavior modification, teaching methods, and business ethics. After passing the exam, applicants must submit documentation verifying their experience hours and pay a fee to receive their certification.

The cost of the CPDT-KA certification varies depending on where you live and how much experience you have. Generally speaking, it can cost anywhere from $300-$800 USD to become certified.

7. International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC)

The International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) is a professional organization dedicated to advancing the field of animal behavior consulting. The IAABC was founded in 2004 and is composed of animal behavior consultants from around the world who specialize in helping owners and guardians of companion animals, livestock, and wildlife.

In order to become an IAABC Certified Animal Behavior Consultant (CABC), individuals must have a minimum of 500 hours of documented experience working with animals, complete at least 30 hours of continuing education credits related to animal behavior, pass an exam administered by the IAABC, and adhere to the organization’s Code of Ethics.

The process for becoming an IAABC CABC can take up to two years depending on the individual’s experience level. The first step is to apply for membership by submitting a completed application form along with a fee ($50 for student memberships or $100 for regular memberships). Once accepted as a member, applicants must then complete all required coursework and exams before they can be certified.

The cost for becoming an IAABC CABC varies depending on the type of membership chosen and whether or not any additional courses are taken beyond those required for certification. Generally speaking, it will cost between $500-$1000 to become certified.

8. Karen Pryor Academy for Animal Training and Behavior (KPA-CTP)

Karen Pryor Academy for Animal Training and Behavior (KPA-CTP) is a professional certification program that provides animal trainers and behavior consultants with the knowledge, skills, and experience needed to become successful in their field. The program consists of an online coursework component, an on-site practicum component, and a final exam.

The online coursework component includes six modules covering topics such as learning theory, animal behavior, training methods, safety and welfare, problem solving, and professional development. Each module is composed of video lectures, readings, quizzes, practice problems, and discussion forums. The online coursework can be completed at your own pace within 12 months of enrollment.

The on-site practicum component is designed to give you hands-on experience working with animals in real-world settings. It consists of two weeks of intensive instruction at one of KPA’s approved facilities around the world. During this time you will receive direct instruction from experienced professionals while also observing how they work with animals in different environments.

The final exam is a comprehensive written test that covers all aspects of the program material. It must be taken within 6 months of completing the online coursework or on-site practicum components. Upon passing the exam you will receive your KPA Certified Training Partner (CTP) designation.

To get certified by KPA-CTP you must first enroll in the program by submitting an application form along with payment for tuition fees ($2195). Once accepted into the program you can begin your coursework immediately or wait until a later date if desired. After completing all components of the program you will need to pass the final exam before receiving your CTP certification.

9. American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen Evaluator

The American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen Evaluator (AKC CGC) is a program that evaluates the behavior and temperament of a dog in order to determine if it is suitable for public access. The evaluation consists of 10 different tests that measure a dog’s obedience, manners, and ability to interact with people and other dogs. In order to become an AKC CGC Evaluator, one must attend an approved training seminar or workshop and pass a written exam.

The training seminar typically takes two days to complete and costs around $200. After completing the seminar, the evaluator will be given the opportunity to take the written exam. The exam covers topics such as canine behavior, safety protocols, and evaluation techniques. Once the exam is passed, the individual will receive their official AKC CGC Evaluator certificate.

The cost of becoming an AKC CGC Evaluator varies depending on the training seminar chosen but typically ranges from $200-$400. Additionally, there may be additional expenses associated with attending seminars or workshops such as travel costs or registration fees.

10. Association of Pet Dog Trainers Certification Program

The Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) Certification Program is a comprehensive program designed to recognize the expertise of professional dog trainers. The APDT certification program is based on the organization’s core competencies, which include knowledge and skills related to canine behavior, learning theory, and training techniques.

In order to become certified by the APDT, applicants must first complete an online application and submit a fee. Once accepted into the program, applicants must take a series of courses that cover topics such as canine behavior, learning theory, and training techniques. After completing all required coursework, applicants must pass an exam in order to receive their certification.

The entire process typically takes about 3-4 months to complete depending on how quickly the applicant completes their coursework. The cost for the APDT Certification Program is $395 USD for members or $595 USD for non-members.

11. National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors Certification Program

The National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors (NADOI) Certification Program is designed to provide dog owners and professionals with the highest quality of instruction in dog obedience training. The program is recognized by many organizations and provides a standard for instructors to demonstrate their knowledge, experience, and expertise in the field.

The NADOI certification process involves three steps: an application, an examination, and a practical evaluation. The application requires applicants to provide proof of experience as well as references from other professionals. After submitting the application, applicants must pass a written exam that covers topics such as canine behavior, training methods, safety protocols, and more. Finally, applicants must demonstrate their skills in a practical evaluation conducted by an approved NADOI evaluator.

The entire certification process typically takes between six months and one year to complete. Applicants are responsible for all associated costs including the application fee ($50), exam fee ($150), travel expenses for the practical evaluation (if required), and any additional fees charged by evaluators or trainers.

Once certified, NADOI instructors are expected to adhere to a strict code of ethics and conduct while teaching classes or providing private lessons. They must also maintain their certification by attending continuing education courses every two years.

Do You Really Need a Animal Trainer Certificate?

The short answer to this question is “it depends.” Whether or not you need an animal trainer certificate depends on a variety of factors, such as what kind of animals you plan to work with and the type of training you intend to do.

If you are looking to train companion animals like dogs and cats, then most likely an animal trainer certificate is not necessary. Most people who train these types of animals do so without any formal credentials. However, if you would like to become a professional trainer for zoos, aquariums, or other animal-related businesses, then having an animal trainer certificate is almost always a requirement.

In addition, if you plan on teaching classes or workshops about training animals, then having an animal trainer certificate may be beneficial in order to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise in the field. Having the certification can also give potential employers confidence that you have the skills and experience needed for the job.

At the end of the day, it really depends on your individual situation and goals when it comes to deciding whether or not an animal trainer certificate is necessary for your career path. If you’re unsure about whether or not it’s right for you, it might be worth talking to someone who already has experience in the field or researching different programs online before making a decision.

Related: Animal Trainer Resume Examples

FAQs About Animal Trainer Certifications

1. What is an animal trainer certification?

Answer: An animal trainer certification is a professional credential that demonstrates a person's knowledge and proficiency in the field of animal training. The certification is typically earned through completion of an approved course or program, passing a written and/or practical exam, and meeting any additional requirements set by the certifying organization.

2. How do I become certified as an animal trainer?

Answer: The process for becoming certified as an animal trainer varies depending on the certifying organization, but generally includes completing an approved course or program, passing a written and/or practical exam, and meeting any additional requirements set by the certifying organization.

3. What type of courses are required to obtain a certification in animal training?

Answer: The specific courses required to obtain a certification in animal training vary depending on the certifying organization; however, some common topics include basic principles of behavior modification, health and nutrition for animals, safety practices for working with animals, understanding learning theory, and teaching basic obedience commands.

4. Is there an age requirement to become certified as an animal trainer?

Answer: Generally speaking, most certifying organizations do not have age requirements; however, it is important to note that some may require applicants to be at least 18 years old before they are eligible to take the certification exam.

5. How long does it take to earn an animal trainer certification?

Answer: The amount of time it takes to earn an animal trainer certification varies depending on factors such as the individual's existing experience level and how quickly they move through their coursework or program; however, most programs can be completed within 6 months to 1 year.