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Animal Care Attendant

Animal care attendants feed, clean, and care for animals in shelters, stables, farms, ranches, kennels, pet shops, veterinary clinics, aquariums, zoos, and wildlife parks.

Also Known As

Animal Care Technician, Aquarist, Dog Kennel Attendant, Farm Hand, Groom, Kennel Attendant, Pet Shop Attendant, Ranch Hand, Stable Worker, Wildlife Park Attendant, Zookeeper

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used.

Here is how this occupation has been classified over time.

2006 NOC

  • 6483: Pet Groomers and Animal Care Workers

2006 NOC-S

  • G923: Pet Groomers and Animal Care Workers

2011 NOC

  • 6563: Pet groomers and animal care workers

2016 NOC

  • 6563: Pet groomers and animal care workers

2021 NOC

  • 65220: Pet groomers and animal care workers

2023 OaSIS

  • 65220.00: Pet groomers and animal care workers
Updated Mar 31, 2024

Duties depend on the type of animal and place of work. In general, animal care attendants:

  • Clean and disinfect equipment and enclosures (such as pens, cages, aquariums, kennels, or stalls) by removing feces, soiled bedding, and food
  • Clean, disinfect, and refill water dishes, buckets, or troughs
  • Spread fresh bedding materials like straw, paper, sawdust, or gravel
  • Wash floors, walls, and windows
  • Clean and repair tools such as shovels, rakes, and garbage cans
  • Feed animals
  • Watch animals and report unusual behaviour and health concerns
  • Groom, trim, bathe, and clip animals
  • Dust, spray, or bathe animals to control insect pests
  • Help give treatments prescribed by veterinarians
  • Keep complete, organized, and up-to-date records (both medical and behavioural)

Animal care attendants at shelters, dog pounds, and wildlife rehabilitation centres care for stray dogs, cats, other pets, and wildlife as well as pets given up or lost by owners. Along with giving general care, they may:

  • Answer public inquiries
  • Contact the owners of found pets
  • Collect payment for adoptions, food, or merchandise
  • Arrange for pre-adoption meetings between animals and prospective owners
  • Providing vaccinations, deworming, or other procedures as needed for animals in care
  • Adopt out unclaimed pets after a waiting period
  • Help euthanize unclaimed or unadoptable animals
  • Release rehabilitated wildlife

Aquarists work at aquariums. They:

  • Feed and care for fish and other aquatic life
  • Clean and maintain aquariums
  • Maintain water quality for a variety of species
  • Check the chemical content, oxygen level, and temperature of tank water
  • Add chemicals to the water when needed
  • Report any findings to other staff
  • Provide the public with information
  • Ship, receive, and transport animals

Grooms and stable workers care for horses at stables, farms, and racetracks. In addition to general care, they:

  • Exercise horses
  • Help train, breed, and foal horses
  • Transport horses to and from racetracks or events
  • Act as trail guides
  • Clean and repair riding equipment

Kennel attendants care for dogs, cats, and other pets that are boarded or bred and sold. In addition to general care, they:

  • Exercise and play with dogs
  • Give attention and affection to animals in their care
  • Answer public inquiries
  • Help breed and birth pedigreed dogs and cats

Pet shop attendants work in retail stores. They:

  • Care for and sell birds, fish, reptiles, cats, dogs, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, and other animals
  • Sell pet supplies, accessories, and related books
  • Answer questions about pet care and supplies
  • Advise customers about choosing a pet

Ranch or farm hands work in rural settings with many species of farm animals. These may include beef or dairy cattle, sheep, goats, chickens, ducks, geese, and other animals. In addition to general care, they:

  • Monitor the health and welfare of animals
  • Maintain pens, fences, or buildings that house animals to ensure their safety
  • Move and transport animals using practices designed to minimize the animals’ stress
  • Perform daily milking, feeding, and cleaning chores as needed
  • Help breed and birth animals as required

Zookeepers and wildlife park attendants work in zoos and wildlife parks. They are usually assigned to a specific section of the zoo or park. They:

  • Help other workers transfer, restrain, crate, and uncrate animals
  • Train animals to accept human care and management
  • Repair enclosures, settings, and living areas
  • Watch for births, breeding, and unusual behaviour and record their observations in logbooks
  • Develop and carry out plans to meet animals’ psychological, emotional, and physical needs (such as by providing and regularly moving ropes for primates to swing on)
  • Answer visitors’ questions
  • Educate visitors about animals and species, and spread awareness of conservation practices and programs
  • Advise people not to feed animals
  • Warn people to be cautious near animals that might be dangerous
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2024
  • Strength Required Lift over 20 kg

Animal care attendants may work indoors in labs, shelters, or pet shops. At kennels, stables, barns, racetracks, aquariums, zoos, or wildlife parks, they may work both indoors and outdoors. Those who work outdoors do so in all kinds of weather. Animal attendants must be able to tolerate strong odours. They should not mind getting dirty. They may need to restrain animals and lift or carry animals and cages. Animals may bite, scratch, or kick. They may also transmit disease. Zoo work is physically demanding, requiring lots of lifting and shovelling. Injuries are common, including back strains, joint problems, cuts, and scrapes.

Animals need daily care. Most attendants work shifts that include weekend and holiday hours.

Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Pet Groomers and Animal Care Workers

2006 NOC: 6483

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group

Interest in comparing information to monitor and document animal behaviour, and to prepare food and feed animals, fish and birds at scheduled intervals


Interest in assisting scientists and researchers in conducting laboratory tests with animals; and in using equipment for grooming animals


Interest in handling and nurturing animals when grooming and when assisting breeders; and in training dogs to obey commands and perform specific duties in response to signals

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 

It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective, and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes for this NOC group is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn About Interests


Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 31, 2024

Animal care attendants need:

  • To be gentle, calm, and patient with animals
  • To be physically fit
  • The ability to control animals
  • Observational skills
  • Mental alertness
  • Communication skills
  • An aptitude for sales, if they work in a pet shop
  • The ability to work well as part of a team
  • To be reliable

They should enjoy:

  • Caring for animals
  • Having clear rules and guidelines for their work
  • Working with people, if their job involves the public

Animal care attendants should have no allergies to the animals they work with.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Pet groomers and animal care workers

2016 NOC: 6563

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 101 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Nov 16, 2021 and May 14, 2024.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Tasks: Nail clipping
Tasks: Ear cleaning
Tasks: Bathing/shampooing
Attention to detail
Construction Specialization: Team player
Tasks: Teeth cleaning
Construction Specialization: Dependability
Construction Specialization: Reliability
Construction Specialization: Effective interpersonal skills
Construction Specialization: Flexibility
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2024
  • Minimum Education Varies

Most employers hire attendants who have previous paid or volunteer experience with farm animals or pets. Some employers require related training or post-secondary education.

Aquariums, zoos, and wildlife parks may require post-secondary education with courses in biology, animal husbandry, or a related field.

Dog kennel staff should know about the behaviours and problems with specific breeds. Dog pounds prefer attendants who have post-secondary education related to bylaw enforcement. (For more information, see the Bylaw Enforcement Officer occupational profile.)

Aquariums may require candidates to know how to safely handle hazardous chemicals like chlorine. They may also require some knowledge of plumbing or pool filtration systems. Some may ask for certified scuba skills.

Whether they require experience, training, or both, employers of animal care attendants usually provide some on-the-job training. Training programs also may be available through related associations.

Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

CDI College of Business, Technology and Health Care - Calgary North
CDI College of Business, Technology and Health Care - Calgary South
Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Reeves College - Edmonton
Robertson College - Calgary
Robertson College - Edmonton

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2024
  • Certification Not Regulated

There is currently no provincial legislation regulating this occupation in Alberta.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2024

Jobs for some types of animal care attendants are limited in Alberta. There are few employers of aquarists, zookeepers, wildlife park attendants, shelter attendants, or dog pound attendants. There are more opportunities for grooms, barn or ranch hands, kennel attendants, and pet shop attendants.

One way to gain experience is to do volunteer work or short-term work, such as during the spring and summer or on holidays. Employers may need more staff at these times.

Chances to advance are limited. Shelter and dog pound attendants, aquarists, zookeepers, and wildlife park attendants may move up to supervisory positions. With experience and training, grooms may become trainers, drivers, barn hands, race secretaries, managers, or judges. Kennel attendants who learn grooming on the job may become pet groomers. (For more information, see the Pet Groomer occupational profile.) With experience, kennel and pet shop attendants may become managers or start their own businesses.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 6563: Pet groomers and animal care workers occupational group, 82.6% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 6563: Pet groomers and animal care workers occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 2.7% from 2021 to 2025. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 61 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2021-2025 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Related Alberta Job Postings
Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2024

Salaries vary widely depending on the type of animal and the employer.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Pet groomers and animal care workers

2016 NOC: 6563
Average Wage
Per Hour
Average Salary
Per Year
Average Hours
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 6563 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production), and other forms of compensation.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $15.00 $23.00 $16.45 $15.32
Overall $15.00 $26.25 $17.83 $16.20
Top $15.00 $31.25 $20.17 $18.00

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

Professional, Scientific & Technical Services
Other Services (Repair, Personal Services and Related)

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
Vacancy Rate
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Agriculture and Related Technologies
  • Sciences
  • Social, Community and Protective Services

Updated Mar 31, 2024. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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