How Many Years of College to Become an Animal Cop?

Animal control officers restrain and detain stray animals.
Animal control officers restrain and detain stray animals. (Image: Jupiterimages/ Images)

Animal cops, or animal control officers, are police officers who protect the public from stray animals on the loose. The officers also protect pets from inhumane treatment. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the amount of education required to become an animal welfare officer can vary and largely depends on the individual.

Police Education

Most police officers are required to complete a minimum of 60 credit hours or two years of undergraduate college education, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The majority of police officers are not required to have a bachelor's degree, aside from those working at the federal and state levels. Police officers become animal control officers by first becoming an officer and then applying for a position from within the department.

Police Officer Application

The number of years it takes to become an animal control officer goes beyond the two years of education that most police officers obtain. The process of becoming a police officer can itself take about a year. The process generally begins with a written examination and then requires physical fitness tests, psychological and medical evaluations and oral interviews. An extensive background check is typically required as well.


All police officers in cities and larger communities complete required training as a police cadet in a police academy. Police academy training can take anywhere from three to six months, depending on the specific police department and its requirements. Academy training generally consists of a combination of fitness training, legal studies, safety training and weapon control education. Much of the training that animal control officers receive in dealing with animals is through hands-on training once they have been fully commissioned as police officers.


On-the-job training and experience are the final factors that determine the length of time it takes to become an animal control officer. The amount of on-the-job training can vary by police department. The ASPCA notes that additional experience working as a park ranger can make applicants wanting to become animal welfare officers more attractive candidates. The amount of time spent gaining experience can vary. In all, the process of becoming an animal control officer can take as little as two and a half years.

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