How to become an animal behaviorist

How to become an animal behavioristAn animal behaviorist is a professional that studies animal behavior, including the causes, influential factors and purpose of the behavior. Some animal behaviorists also promote changes in animal behavior through training and behavior analysis. Animal behaviorists can work in colleges and universities researching behavior, in zoos and companies that design and produce products for pets, and in private practices. Becoming an animal behaviorist can be a challenging, yet rewarding decision. The following describes the process for becoming a specialist in animal behavior.

Kaplan University offers a MSPY – Applied Behavior Analysis. Click here to contact Kaplan University and request information about their programs.

Kaplan University offers a Bachelor of Science in Psychology in Applied Behavior Analysis. Click here to contact Kaplan University and request information about their programs.

Education Requirements

According to the Animal Behavior Society, most specialists in the field have an education in ethology, behavioral ecology, anthropology or comparative psychology. The first two specializations are typically related to the biological, zoological, ecological and evolutionary aspects of behavior, while the latter two specializations often focus on the psychological and sociological aspects of behavior.

The type of degree required is dependent on the individual’s career aspirations. Some career choices, such as being an animal trainer for pets, can require only a bachelor’s degree in psychology or animal sciences. This can typically be accomplished in four years. Careers in academia, research or the zoological field typically require a minimum of a master’s degree, with many requiring a Ph.D. or a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. This may take four to eight years, or longer, and require the student to successfully complete supervised internships or clinical rotations, as well as an independent research project.

Certification Requirements

According to the Animal Behavior Society, anyone who works with animals or consults with the public or professionals about animal behavior problems should be certified to do so. There are two levels of certification: Associate Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (ACAAB) and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB). In order to earn an ACAAB certification, one must have a master’s degree in a biological or behavioral science from an accredited college or university. At least 30 semester credits of behavior science, including ethnology, animal behavior, animal learning and psychology should be completed. Applicants should also have at least two years of professional experience in applied animal behavior, as well as have significant supervised and independent practice in the field.

To become a CAAB, the applicant must have earned a doctoral degree in a biological or behavioral science and have five years of professional experience or have a doctorate in veterinary medicine, two years of supervised residency practice and three years of professional experience. In addition, the applicant must have presented or contributed to a talk or poster presentation at the ABS annual meeting. This certification is primarily for individuals who would like to pursue advanced careers as a researcher or expert in the field of behaviorism.

Individuals wishing to work in the field of animal behaviorism should expect to earn at least a bachelor’s degree, with many positions requiring a doctorate or veterinary medical degree. In addition, certification or state licensure may be required, depending on the career field. Once these requirements have been met, individuals can then begin the rewarding and unique career path as an animal behaviorist.

How to become an animal behaviorist

Sergey Ryumin / Getty Images

Like other fields of science and psychology, the study of animal behavior is constantly evolving. Professionals in the field must work hard to keep up and develop their knowledge and practices over time. There are several certificate options available that can enhance a candidate’s professional credentials. Here are some of the best-known certification programs:

American College of Veterinary Behaviorists

The American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (ACVB) is a professional organization comprising veterinarians who have achieved board certification in the specialty of veterinary behavior. Diplomates of the ACVB must be licensed veterinarians and complete at least three additional years of training through a recognized residency program. They must also submit case reports, publish their findings on a research project, and pass a comprehensive two-day examination.

Animal Behavior Institute

The Animal Behavior Institute (ABI) offers nine certificate programs and three specialized certificates available online. The total cost for each certificate program is $5,925 plus some additional fees for books. Many organizations recognize ABI certificates for continuing education credit hours.

Certificate programs offered by ABI include animal-assisted therapy, animal training and enrichment, zoo and aquarium science, wildlife rehabilitation, and laboratory animal behavior. Each certificate program comprises five courses and can be completed in less than a year. Candidates must also complete 40 hours of hands-on fieldwork through employment or volunteering.

Specialized certificates are available for those wishing to focus on a single species (canine, equine, or feline training and behavior). The specialized certificate program consists of three courses and can be completed in six to nine months. Candidates must also complete 40 hours of fieldwork for these programs. The certificates cost $3,555 each, not including textbooks.

Animal Behavior Society

The Animal Behavior Society offers two levels of professional certification: associate certified applied animal behaviorist (ACAAB) and certified applied animal behaviorist (CAAB). ACAAB certification requires a master’s degree (including a variety of animal behavior coursework and research), at least two years of experience, and a presentation at an ABS annual meeting. CAAB certification requires a doctoral degree, at least five years of experience, and a presentation at an ABS annual meeting. Certification costs $50 per year (plus a $100 application fee) and is valid for five years.

Association of Animal Behavior Professionals

The Association of Animal Behavior Professionals (AABP) offers several certification options including certified dog behavior consultant (AABP-CDBC), certified parrot behavior consultant (AABP-CPBC), certified cat behavior consultant (AABP-CCBC), and certified animal behavior consultant (AABP-CABC). Certification may be achieved either through formal education or passing the AABP proficiency exam. Candidates must be able to demonstrate their experience through a variety of available options.

Companion Animal Sciences Institute

The Companion Animal Sciences Institute (CASI) offers web-based certification in animal behavior, canine behavior, equine behavior, feline behavior, and parrot behavior. The diploma in animal behavior covers whatever combination of canines, felines, and parrots or, a candidate chooses, or there is an option to specialize in a single-species course.

The animal behavior science and technology program requires 600 hours of coursework and takes approximately 12 months to complete. Tuition ranges from 2,800 to 3,200 Canadian dollars, depending on the number of animals you choose to include. The species-specific diplomas each require 500 hours of coursework and take approximately 12 months to complete. Tuition is CA$2,600 per program.

The CASI diplomas are approved for continuing education credit hours by several animal behavior organizations including the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants and the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers.

International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants

The International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) offers associate certified and certified membership options to its members. Certification may focus on work with dogs, cats, horses, or parrots. Yearly dues are $95 for associate certified members and $120 for certified members. Both options require at least 36 hours of continuing education every three years to maintain certification.

Associate certified membership requires a candidate to have at least 300 hours of experience in animal behavior consultation, two written case studies, and three letters of recommendation.

Certified membership requires a candidate to have at least 3 years (and 500 hours) of experience in animal behavior consultation, three written case studies, four written case scenarios, and three letters of recommendation.

How to Bring Rescue Dogs From California to Washington

There are a wide range of career opportunities for animal behaviorists. Animal behavioral specialists can be found working in zoos and wild animal parks or helping owners with their pet cats, dogs, horses and parrots.

There are many avenues for becoming an animal behavioral specialist. Each option can start you on a path toward hands-on work with animals; more advanced degrees will ultimately give you more opportunities in the field of animal behavior.

Step 1

Obtain a certificate from a private training program. There are several private programs that will give you hands-on experience and education so you can work with cats and dogs. These programs usually are not accredited by any college association, but they will get you started on a career as a dog or cat trainer who can help owners with their pets.

Step 2

Get an associate’s degree in animal training or zoo keeping. Only a handful of colleges around the country offer this type of program, which trains people for careers in almost any animal field, including as an animal behaviorist. At the Exotic Animal Training and Management program at Moorpark College in California, for example, you can learn basic training and behavior concepts that apply to all animals from dogs to dolphins.

Step 3

Acquire a four-year degree in animal behavior. More colleges are now offering four-year degrees in animal behavior sciences. For example, Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania offers degrees in animal behavior as an interdisciplinary major combining psychology and biology.

Step 4

Become a veterinary behaviorist. Veterinary behaviorists have earned their degree in veterinary medicine with the added training and study of the animal behavior sciences. This allows them to holistically treat animals for their medical and behavioral needs, which are often related.

How to become an animal behaviorist

I can tell you from personal experience that working with animals professionally is one of the absolute most rewarding career experiences one can choose. The delight and excitement they bring to my life everyday remind me all the time that I absolutely made the right career choice.

According to Indiana University Bloomington, “Animal behavior is the scientific study of everything animals do, whether the animals are single-celled organisms, insects, birds, mammals, fish, or humans. The field of animal behavior is concerned with understanding the causes, functions, development, and evolution of behavior.” So, on one hand, psychology is a form of animal behavior. Psychologist study the behavior of humans and humans are animals. You will find that many animal behaviorists have degrees in psychology.

I believe that an animal behaviorist is one that studies the behavior of animals and then uses that knowledge to improve the lives of all animals.

I get asked all the time not only what it’s like to be an animal behaviorist, but also how to become an animal behaviorist. While that is a tough question to answer because no two paths to any career are quite the same, here are a few must-follow steps to becoming successful in this field:

How to become an animal behaviorist

Step 1: You Must Love Animals (DUH!)

I know for some of you this is going to sound ridiculously redundant, but it’s true: to become a successful animal behaviorist you must actually love animals.

This kind of specialized work isn’t easy, and an almost infinite amount of patience is required to properly observe, train, condition, rescue, rehab, release, and cherish these magnificent creatures. In order to be successful, everything you do must be underlined by a love and respect for the animals you’re working with and working for. If you don’t have that, your chances of being successful are slim-to-none.

The “why” is more important than the “what” or “how.” If you love animals and you want to help them, protect them, serve them…if that is your “why” – then you will be an excellent animal behaviorist.

Step 2: Get an Education and Educate Yourself

You’ll notice that there are two parts to this step – and for good reason. Getting a degree in an animal-related field from a degree-granting university can be very beneficial, but is in actuality just part of how to properly prepare for the animal behaviorist career path.

The second critical part is to follow your passions and educate yourself wherever and however you can. This means spending as much time as possible exploring and volunteering at accredited zoos, aquariums, nature sanctuaries, rehab facilities, shelters – anywhere that will give you up-close experience and interaction with animals of all kinds and the professionals who help handle and train them. The experience of actually working in these kinds of situations directly with animals will give you the kind of education that no classroom ever could. Plus, it will give you an idea of what to expect once you make it out into the working world.

Step 3: Find The Career Path You Want and Jump In

Just like there is no exact path to becoming a professional animal behaviorist, there is also no set path for what you should do once you become one. Properly certified behaviorists can work anywhere from research laboratories and aquatic facilities to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) around the world – it all depends on what kind of situation you want to work in and what kind of animals you want to work with.

Though many people tend to view choosing an initial career path as the biggest step they’ll ever make, you shouldn’t be too afraid of making a mistake as you can always try something new. However, it is a good idea to stick with what’s closest to your passions and education when starting out, as several years of experience on your resume before trying to make a career change could be beneficial.

Your veterinarian is the first person you should contact when your pet exhibits problem behavior or your pet’s behavior changes. Changes in behavior or behavior problems can reflect underlying medical conditions, which must be evaluated by your veterinarian. Many underlying medical problems, including pain, can alter your pet’s behavior in ways that are difficult for pet owners to identify. Please call your veterinarian if you note any change, however mild, in your pet’s behavior.

Once medical conditions have been ruled out, we, like you, want the best behavioral care possible for your pet. It is important for you to understand the qualifications of people who use titles that indicate they are behavior professionals. This is difficult since, unlike the titles veterinarian, psychologist and psychiatrist, which are state licensed, the title “animal behaviorist”, or similar titles can be used by anyone, regardless of their background.

Working with you and your petHow to become an animal behaviorist

Do you have a behavior problem with your dog, cat or other pet? Confused about what to do because you’ve received conflicting information? Your veterinarian should be your first resource. After your pet has been examined by your veterinarian, we are here to help you find the BEST solution for you and your dog, cat, or other species of pet.

Whether your pet’s behavior has recently become a concern or you are dealing with long-standing behavior problems, CAABs are uniquely qualified to work with you and your family to find the best solution.

CAABs have supervised graduate training in animal behavior, biology, zoology and learning theory at accredited universities. We publish data based papers in peer-reviewed journals. Some CAABs are veterinarians who have completed a residency in animal behavior. CAABs are full time professionally educated animal behaviorists.

Working with your veterinarian

How to become an animal behaviorist

After your veterinarian determines that your pet does not have a medical problem that is the cause of the behavior symptoms, Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists will continue to work closely with your veterinarian to provide the best behavior care for your pets. Because most CAABs work through veterinary referral, we know the importance of keeping your veterinarian informed of our findings. Because of our training, we know how to provide a useful case summary to veterinarians.

We are the only non-veterinary certified behaviorists with both graduate training in animal behavior and supervised hands-on experience with a wide variety of species.

The information CAABs provide is based not just on personal experience and opinion but on scientific principles of animal behavior. CAABs also know how to find the most in-depth, up to date information available in the scientific literature.

How to become an animal behaviorist


  • What are the Tasks of a Vet Assistant Working in a Wildlife Facility?
  • What Does an Animal Behaviorist Do?
  • How to Become an Exotic Avian Veterinarian
  • The Requirements for Various Animal-Related Careers
  • Equine Nutritionist Salary

Animal behavior therapists study the behavior of domesticated and wild animals. They work to solve behavior problems or help animals acclimate to new surroundings. Many work as independent consultants, helping people train family pets. Others work for educational, conservation or government organizations and teach or conduct research.


A wide range of animal-related or veterinary degree programs are available to prepare you for a career as an animal behavior therapist. Whichever degree program you look into, make sure it is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Some animal behavior therapists start out by becoming registered veterinary technicians, which requires a two-year associate degree program similar to a nursing degree in human medicine. Registered veterinary technicians can provide training to clients of the veterinary hospital where they work. Others pursue degrees in zoology, wildlife biology or veterinary medicine, all of which qualify them for positions at zoos, conservation groups, universities and research facilities. Many also hold board certification. You’ll need a doctorate for most teaching and research positions.

Patience and Compassion

As an animal behavior therapist, you’ll likely work with animals who are scared or confused, and who might act out aggressively. You’ll need to recognize these behaviors as defense mechanisms and respond to them in a way that puts the animal at ease. When training family pets, you might encounter formerly abused animals who fear humans, or dominant pets reluctant to relinquish control to their human companions. When working for zoos, refuges or research facilities, you might work with formerly wild animals unsure how to act in captivity. Training these animals and teaching them to trust humans can be a slow and complicated process.

Communication Skills

Though you’ll spend a good deal of your time interacting with animals, you need excellent people and communication skills as well. If you work with pet owners, you must be skilled in instructing them how to relate to their pets. If you work for a zoo, aquarium or animal refuge, you can also give tours, lead classes or deliver presentations to the public. If you work for a university or research facility, you’ll likely be required to develop teaching plans, instruct students and write reports and academic papers describing your findings.

Physical Fitness

Working with animals is often as demanding physically as it is mentally and emotionally. You’ll spend much of your time standing, walking or running, and may have to pick up large animals or lift heavy pet carriers or cages. You might also have to physically restrain or control an animal while training it. Trying to walk a 100-pound Great Dane on a leash, for example, can cause physical strain if the dog is uncooperative. You’ll also need quick reflexes to respond to unpredictable behavior, whether you’re training someone’s prize show poodle or working with wild elephants at a wildlife refuge.

The Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers

  • Certificant Log In
  • Register
  • Certificant Log In
  • Register
  • Home
  • About Us
    • CCPDT’s History
    • CCPDT Values
    • CCPDT Board
    • Affiliations
    • Test Development
    • Volunteer
    • Public Policies
    • Media Center
    • Job Board
  • Certification
    • Dog Trainer Certification
      • About the Dog Trainer Examination
      • Dog Trainer FAQ
    • Behavior Consultant Certification
      • Behavior Consultant Examination
      • Behavior Consultant FAQ
    • Marketing Your Certification
    • Continuing Education
      • Approved CEU Events
      • Request CEU Approval
      • Reapply CEUs
    • Recertification
  • Referral Partners
  • Dog Owners
    • How to Choose a Professional Dog Trainer or Behavior Consultant
    • How To Become A Dog Trainer
    • Find A Dog Pro
  • Resources
  • Contact
  • Home
  • Certification
  • Behavior Consultant Certification

Why become certified?

  • Personal satisfaction. With a CCPDT certification, you know you have tested yourself against and passed rigorous standards for knowledge and skills in science-based dog training.
  • Continuing education. Maintaining a CCPDT certification is motivation for lifelong learning and demonstrates that you keep current on the science and techniques of the profession.
  • Marketing edge. Independent certification makes a big difference to clients and prospects—if they are informed about it. For help educating your audience, see Marketing Your Certification.
  • Professionalize the field. Certification represents an individual step toward a future when only qualified professionals are allowed to call themselves dog trainers.

“I urge all of my students to become Certified by the CCPDT. It is the only professional certifying organization that requires all of its certified members to pass a knowledge assessment that is a validated instrument in addition to proving experience in the field as a trainer or behavior consultant. The CCPDT also requires its certified members to stay current in skills and information through their continuing education unit requirement. Certification by a reputable organization tells clients or employers that you have put in the time and effort to excel at your profession.”

Cheryl Aguiar, PhD, owner and founder E-Training for Dogs


Certified Behavior Consultant Canine-Knowledge Assessed (CBCC-KA®) is our advanced certification for dog trainers who offer canine behavior modification.

To be eligible for the examination, you have to fulfill a number of requirements. For example:

√ A minimum of 300 hours’ experience in canine behavior consulting (on fear, phobias, compulsive behaviors, anxiety, and aggression) within the previous 3 years.

√ Provide a signed attestation statement from a CCPDT certificant or a veterinarian.

The CBCC-KA exam consists of 180 multiple-choice questions. The exam is given at computer-based testing facilities throughout the U.S. and Canada. Learn more about the examination.

Want to learn more?

  • Download the CBCC-KA Candidate Handbook
  • Click here for the CBCC-KA Candidate Application
  • Download the CBCC-KA Study Objectives
  • Download the CBCC-KA Behavior Log
  • Download the CBCC-KA Sample Behavior Log
  • Download the Attestation Statement
  • Download the Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics
  • Download the Least Intrusive, Minimally Aversive (LIMA) Effective Behavior Intervention

Practice test

Are you out of practice on taking multiple-choice exams? Then we have a solution for you! We offer an online practice test for anyone considering sitting for the CBCC-KA certification exam.

The 50-question practice test will give you a taste of the CBCC-KA exam. It’s a chance to take a computerized exam; experience the content; and learn more about the exam question format, style, and level of difficulty. You have 2 hours to complete the 50 questions and will be scored by testing area.

The instant score report after practice test submission shows test performance in each of the content areas. The score report does not provide correct answers or indicate which questions were answered correctly and incorrectly. Once the practice test is scored, you cannot return to the test to review the questions.

NOTE: The successful completion of a practice test is not required to sit for the certification exam, nor does it guarantee a passing score on the exam. The practice test has been developed by subject matter experts in the profession and is provided for review purposes only. Completion of the practice test does not substantiate a candidate’s readiness to sit for or successfully pass the exam.

The fee to take the practice exam is $99.

To register and take the exam, visit the Professional Testing Corporation.

Let’s learn how would I become an animal behaviorist. The most accurate or helpful solution is served by eHow old.

There are ten answers to this question.

Careers in animal behavior deal with the actions, instincts and biologically driven behaviors of animal.

Peg Robinson at eHow old Mark as irrelevant Marked as irrelevant Undo

What do I need to do to become an animal behaviorist. I have no idea where to go or start but I want to stay in California. How much do they make? And what kind of schooling do I need. Where exactly do I start. I’m most likely going to a community college.

In order to be sufficiently versed in ethology you need to have a postgraduate degree which focuses.

Alyssa Martinez at Yahoo! Answers Mark as irrelevant Marked as irrelevant Undo

i am very interested in becoming and animal behaviorist,i want to work mostly with dogs first, then possibly widden my range with cats, and other animals, but mostly dogs. i live in pheonix, az, in the us, do you know of any good colleges for this career.…… http.

fayt at Yahoo! Answers Mark as irrelevant Marked as irrelevant Undo

how many years? what classes?

Count on 8 or 9 years of College and Grad School. “The general approach in education would be to.

jenkins_. at Yahoo! Answers Mark as irrelevant Marked as irrelevant Undo

Any type of job working in a zoo will probably require that you have at least a 4 year degree. The simple. Mark as irrelevant Marked as irrelevant Undo

Most animal behavior positions require advanced degrees in Ethology and Comparative psychology disciplines.

Anonymous at ChaCha Mark as irrelevant Marked as irrelevant Undo

Know anyone who is in this profession? I would love any information! Thank you very much!

Animal behaviorists typically come from one of two academic disciplines, zoology or psychology. In zoology.

G3QB6QQ27MOL2X74JXRV7XYUOA at Yahoo! Answers Mark as irrelevant Marked as irrelevant Undo

I’m really interested in studying animal behavior with a goal of becoming a professional, licensed equine behaviorist and trainer. I know what kind of school I need to become a . show more

look up a guy called ryan gingrich, he claims to be a equine behaviorist. hes the only one I know of.

X5OG6DJMH34RNKEGONHJE3HW7Q at Yahoo! Answers Mark as irrelevant Marked as irrelevant Undo

Animal behaviorists usually have a Ph.D. in behavioral or biological sciences. Some colleges require.

Anonymous at ChaCha Mark as irrelevant Marked as irrelevant Undo

To be an animal behaviorist, you must be well with animals. Mark as irrelevant Marked as irrelevant Undo

  • How can I become a more aggressive salesperson? Best solution by Quora
  • How do i become a animal control officer? Best solution by Yahoo! Answers
  • How can I become a lawyer if I studied accounting and business? Best solution by Yahoo! Answers
  • How do I become an animal rescuer? Best solution by Yahoo! Answers
  • How do I become a marine animal trainer? Best solution by eHow old

Just Added Q & A:

    How many active mobile subscribers are there in China? Best solution by Quora Best solution by Best solution by Best solution by ChaCha Best solution by Yahoo! Answers