How to Become a Certified Animal Behaviorist

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Certified animal behaviorists help owners with their pets.
Certified animal behaviorists help owners with their pets. (Image: PhotoObjects.net/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

The Animal Behavior Society has two levels of certification for animal behaviorists: Associate Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists, or ACAAB, and the higher level of Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists, or CAAB. To obtain either of these certifications will take several years of education and experience, making this a highly reputable designation within the animal behavior and training profession. With either of these certifications, you can assure your pet-owning or zoo clients that you have extensive education and experience working with animals and solving behavior problems. To gain certification, you can start with an ACAAB, then work your way up to obtaining your CAAB.

Obtain your master’s degree in a related field of study. The degree should be “a biological or behavioral science with an emphasis in animal behavior…(and)…should include a research based thesis” states the Animal Behavior Society’s website.

Work as a professional animal trainer, in animal behavioral research at a university, with a zookeeper or other animal training and behavior-related field. A minimum of two years of professional experience working with animals is required for an ACAAB, and five years for a CAAB. You can also contact current CAABs to work as an intern to meet this criterion.

Collect endorsements, or letters of recommendations, from three different current Animal Behavior Society members. Both certifications have this requirement.

Earn a doctorate degree in biology, a behavioral science or veterinary medicine to meet the education requirements for the higher level CAAB. You will need to have participated in published research projects.

Obtain liability insurance for your animal training services. This is required for the CAAB designation, but it is a good idea for any animal training business.

Apply for the certification for which you qualify. The application is available at the Animal Behavior Society website.

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