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Occupational Profile

Animal Care Attendant

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

  • Avg. Salary $18,908.00
  • Avg. Wage $13.71
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook Up
Also Known As

Dog Kennel Attendant, Groomer, Kennel Attendant, Pet Shop Attendant, Stable Worker, Wildlife Park Attendant, Zookeeper

NOC & Interest Codes
The Animal Care Attendant is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Pet Groomers and Animal Care Workers
NOC code: 6483
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 Dec 19, 2016

Duties vary depending on the type of animal but, in general, animal care attendants:

  • clean and disinfect enclosures (for example, pens, cages, aquariums, kennels, stalls) by removing feces, soiled bedding and leftover food, and washing floors, walls and windows
  • spread fresh straw, paper, sawdust, gravel or other bedding materials
  • keep cleaning tools (for example, shovels, rakes, garbage cans) clean and in good repair
  • feed and water animals according to a daily schedule
  • observe animals and report any unusual behaviour or health concerns
  • groom, trim, bathe and clip animals to maintain hygiene, comfort and appearance
  • dust, spray or bathe animals to control insect pests
  • help to administer treatments prescribed by veterinarians
  • keep records.

Animal shelter, dog pound and wildlife rehabilitation facility attendants care for stray dogs, cats, other pets and wildlife as well as those surrendered by their owners. In addition to providing general care, they may:

  • answer inquiries from the public
  • contact dog and cat owners to inform them that their pets are at the shelter or dog pound
  • assist in destroying unclaimed and unadoptable animals
  • adopt out unclaimed animals after a specified waiting period or release rehabilitated wildlife.

Aquarists work in aquariums where they:

  • feed and care for fish and other aquatic life
  • clean aquariums and keep them in good working order
  • maintain water quality for a variety of species of aquatic life
  • check the chemical content, oxygen level and temperature of the water in the tanks
  • add appropriate chemicals to the water when required or report their findings to other staff
  • provide information about the aquarium to the public
  • may ship, receive or transport animals.

Grooms and stable workers care for horses at riding stables, horse farms and racetracks. In addition to the general care described above, they:

  • exercise horses
  • assist with basic training, breeding and foaling
  • transport horses from one racetrack or competition to another
  • act as trail guides
  • clean and repair riding, jumping and racing equipment.

Kennel attendants care for dogs, cats and other pets being boarded or bred and sold to the public. In addition to providing general care, they:

  • exercise and play with dogs
  • provide individual attention and affection to animals in their care
  • answer inquiries from the public
  • assist with the breeding and birthing of pedigreed dogs and cats.

Pet shop attendants work in retail stores where they:

  • care for and sell many different species of birds, fish, reptiles, cats, dogs, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils and other animals
  • sell pet supplies, pet accessories and related literature
  • answer questions regarding pet care and pet supplies
  • advise customers regarding choice of pet.

Zookeepers and wildlife park attendants care for animals in zoos and wildlife parks. They usually are assigned to a particular section of the zoo or park where they:

  • assist other workers in transferring, restraining, crating and uncrating animals
  • train animals
  • make minor repairs on cages, settings and living areas
  • watch for births, breeding and unusual behaviour, and record their observations in logbooks
  • develop and implement plans to meet animals' psychological, emotional and physical needs (for example, provide and regularly move ropes to swing on or logs with different odours to sniff)
  • answer visitors' questions and educate them about specific animals and species in general
  • advise people not to feed animals and warn them to be cautious around potentially dangerous animals.
Working Conditions
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Animal care attendants may work entirely indoors in laboratories, animal shelters and 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 unpleasant odours and not mind getting dirty. They may be required to restrain animals as well as lift and carry light or heavy animals and cages that weigh over 20 kilograms. Since attendants frequently handle animals, there is a risk of occasionally being bitten or scratched, or catching a disease that can be transferred from animals to humans. 

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

  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Animal care attendants need the following characteristics:

  • reliable and alert
  • gentle, quiet and patient with animals 
  • able to control animals
  • physically fit and no allergies to animals
  • good observational skills
  • written communication skills
  • the ability to work well as part of a team.

Attendants who have regular public contact should enjoy dealing with people. Pet shop attendants must have an aptitude for sales.

Animal care attendants should enjoy having clear rules and guidelines for their work, and caring for animals.

Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Most employers prefer to hire attendants who have previous animal care experience in a work (or volunteer) situation or with farm animals or pets. Some employers also require related training or post-secondary education.

  • Some aquariums, zoos and wildlife parks require post-secondary education with specific courses in the biological sciences, animal husbandry or a related field.
  • Dog kennel staff must be knowledgeable about behaviours and problems with specific breeds.
  • Dog pounds prefer to hire attendants who have some post-secondary education related to bylaw enforcement. (For more information, see the Bylaw Enforcement Officer occupational profile.)
  • Employers of aquarists may require job candidates to have basic knowledge in the use and handling of hazardous chemicals (for example, chlorine), some knowledge of plumbing and pool filtration systems, or certified scuba skills.

Regardless of whether they require previous experience, formal 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 NW

Robertson College - Edmonton

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

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Above-average occupational growth is expected in Alberta for 2016 to 2020. Job openings are a result of employment turnover and newly created positions.

Employment opportunities for some animal care attendants are limited in Alberta. There are very few employers of aquarists, zookeepers, wildlife park attendants, animal shelter or dog pound attendants in the province. More opportunities exist for grooms, kennel attendants and pet shop attendants.

One way to get started in the field and gain the necessary experience is to do volunteer work or look for short-term employment during busy times such as spring and summer months or holidays periods when many employers of animal care attendants require additional staff.

Advancement possibilities are limited for many animal care attendants. Animal shelter or dog pound attendants, aquarists and zookeepers or wildlife park attendants may advance to supervisory positions. With experience and on-the-job training, grooms may become assistant trainers, trainers, drivers, barn foremen or, possibly, race secretaries or judges. Kennel attendants who learn grooming on the job may become pet groomers (see the Pet Groomer occupational profile). With experience, kennel attendants and pet shop attendants may eventually 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 in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • 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.

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 19, 2016

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

Animal care attendants are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 6563: Pet groomers and animal care workers.

According to the 2015 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Pet groomers and animal care workers occupational group earned on average from $12.31 to $16.36 an hour. The overall average wage was $13.71 an hour. For more information, see the Pet groomers and animal care workers wage profile.

Related High School Subjects
  • Science
    • Biology
  • Natural Resources
    • Agriculture
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Agriculture and Related Technologies
  • Sciences
  • Social, Community and Protective Services

Updated Mar 16, 2015. 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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