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Animal Care Attendant

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

  • Avg. Salary $19,009.00
  • Avg. Wage $14.49
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook above avg
  • Employed 3,400
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

Aquarist, Dog Kennel Attendant, Groom, Kennel Attendant, Pet Shop Attendant, 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: Pet Groomers and Animal Care Workers (6483) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Pet Groomers and Animal Care Workers (G923) 
  • 2011 NOC: Pet groomers and animal care workers (6563) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

20%
20%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift over 20 kg
Interest Codes
The Animal Care Attendant is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Pet Groomers and Animal Care Workers
METHODICAL

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

OBJECTIVE

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

DIRECTIVE

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

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 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 More

Duties
Updated Mar 31, 2019

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

  • Clean and disinfect enclosures (such as pens, cages, aquariums, kennels, or stalls) by removing feces, soiled bedding, and food
  • 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 records

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 by owners. Along with giving general care, they may:

  • Answer public inquiries
  • Contact the owners of found pets
  • Help euthanize unclaimed or unadoptable animals
  • Adopt out unclaimed pets after a waiting period
  • 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 between racetracks or events
  • Act as trail guides
  • Clean and repair riding, jumping, and racing gear

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

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

  • Help other workers transfer, restrain, crate, and uncrate animals
  • Train animals
  • Repair cages, 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 (for example, provide and regularly move ropes to swing on)
  • Answer visitors’ questions
  • Educate visitors about animals and species
  • Advise people not to feed animals
  • Warn people to be cautious near animals that might be dangerous
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Animal care attendants may work indoors in labs, shelters, or pet shops. Or they may work both indoors and outdoors in all weather conditions at kennels, stables, racetracks, aquariums, zoos, or wildlife parks. No matter where they work, attendants must be able to tolerate foul odours. They should not mind getting dirty. They may need to restrain animals and lift or carry animals and cages. There is a risk of being bitten, scratched or catching a 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.

  • Strength Required Lift over 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Animal care attendants need:

  • The ability to be gentle, quiet and patient with animals
  • The ability to control animals
  • Physical fitness
  • 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
  • Reliability

They should enjoy:

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

Animal care attendants should have no animal allergies.

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2019

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 with 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.

Alberta School of Dog Grooming

Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

Robertson College - Calgary

Robertson College - Edmonton

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Certification is not required, as there is currently no legislation regulating this occupation.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2019

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, 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 , race secretaries, 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.

Animal care attendants are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 6563: Pet groomers and animal care workers. In Alberta, 85% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industries listed above
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation

Over 4,300 Albertans are employed in the Pet groomers and animal care workers occupational group. This group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 1.8% from 2016 to 2020. As a result, 77 new positions are forecast to be created each year, in addition to job openings created by employment turnover. Note: As animal care attendants form only a part of this larger occupational group, only some of these newly created positions will be for animal care attendants. 

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

In Alberta, the G923: Pet Groomers and Animal Care Workers occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 1.8% from 2016 to 2020. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 77 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2019

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

Pet groomers and animal care workers

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $12.20 $22.21 $13.47 $12.20
Overall $12.20 $24.65 $14.49 $13.00
Top $13.00 $28.85 $16.54 $15.00

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.

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.


Industry Information
Professional, Scientific & Technical Services
Other Services (Repair, Personal Services and Related)
ALL INDUSTRIES

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

64%
64%

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

20%
20%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

2%
2%

Vacancy Rate

N/A
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Agriculture and Related Technologies
  • Sciences
  • Social, Community and Protective Services

Updated Mar 31, 2019. 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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