Dolphins are known for their intelligence, playfulness and curiosity about human beings. These qualities make them highly trainable and generally the star attraction at an animal theme park or oceanarium. Learning how to train them, however, isn't easy. There aren't many positions available, so competition is fierce. You must also pass rigorous swimming tests, often in very cold water, before you can enter the apprenticeship, which typically lasts one year.
In spite of the training and effort that go into becoming a dolphin trainer, a starting salary of around $10 an hour, or minimum wage, is standard, according to the website Marine Mammal Trainer. Larger facilities such as SeaWorld may begin trainers at $12 an hour. According to the Dolphin Research Center, entry-level trainers average between $18,000 and $20,000 a year, while those with eight to 12 years experience average between $25,000 and $40,000. Trainers at the very top can earn as much as $35 an hour.
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