Dolphins are intelligent animals that respond well to training. Dolphin trainers teach these cetaceans to perform tricks and synchronized movements on the trainer's command. Dolphins are trained for entertainment purposes, and occasionally by the military. Their learned behavior is of interest to biological researchers, and veterinarians, who make physical studies of the animals.
For its May 2010 analysis of employment trends in the United States, the Bureau of Labor Statistics included dolphin trainers within the category animal trainers, alongside practitioners who taught other species, such as dogs and horses. It calculated that the average annual salary across the animal training profession was $31,110. This translates into a monthly income of $2,593 or an average hourly pay rate of $14.96. Earners within the highest 10 percent received an average wage of over $53,580 per annum, while their contemporaries in the bottom 10 percent earned an average lower than $17,240.
Pay by Industry
Of the sectors of the animal care industry listed by the bureau for its survey of animal trainers, the two in which a dolphin trainer is most likely to find work are amusement parks and arcades, and scientific and professional services, such as military animal training. The bureau listed the average annual wage levels within these sectors as $44,970 and $43,430, respectively.
Pay by Geography
Pay analysis website SalaryExpert.com compared salaries for dolphin trainers in some large U.S. cities. As of May 2011, it reported that wages were highest in Los Angeles, California at $29,613, New York, New York State at $25,494 and Orlando, Florida at $25,304. In Atlanta, Georgia, the average was $17,750, while in Phoenix, Arizona, the rate was $15,731. The bureau listed Minnesota and Delaware as the states with the highest average salaries for animal trainers at $41,200 and $40,290, respectively. West Virginia had an average of $28,190.
Vacancies within dolphin training do not occur frequently. The popularity of the profession and the tendency for trainers to remain in their jobs for a long time, mean that employment opportunities for potential trainers will be relatively scarce, even though the bureau predicts a 21 percent growth in employment across the animal care industry as a whole. The keen competition for vacancies also means that wage levels tend to stay reasonably static. To enhance their employment chances, candidates may wish to intern or volunteer at a dolphin training facility.
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