Research the requirements to become a pet psychologist. Learn about the job description and duties, and read the step-by-step process to start a career as a pet psychologist.
Should I Become a Pet Psychologist?
Pet psychologists, often referred to as veterinary behaviorists or applied animal behaviorists, specialize in companion animal behavior. They provide their services to owners who are having difficulties with their pets by correcting behaviors and looking for triggers for those behaviors.
Some pet psychologists work in schools of veterinary medicine or at veterinary clinics, while others work for private businesses or are self-employed. Pet psychologists may work with animals of all kinds, some of which may demonstrate aggressive behaviors. As a result, there is some risk of injury. Pet psychologists who are self-employed may set their own schedules but will also be responsible for generating business until they can establish a client base and reputation.
Degree Level Master’s degree, Ph.D. or Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
Degree Field Animal behavior or related field
Licensure and Certification Certification is voluntary for applied animal behaviorists through the Animal Behavior Society (ABS); veterinary behaviorists are licensed veterinarians and can choose to earn the title of ACVB Diplomate
Experience Experience with animals is required
Key Skills Decision-making and problem-solving skills; patience and compassion
Salary $105,240 (2018 average for all veterinarians)
Sources: Animal Behavior Society, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (ACVB)
Pet psychologists can earn a master’s degree or Ph.D. or Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree in a field related to animal behavior. Certification is voluntary for applied animal behaviorists through the Animal Behavior Society (ABS). Veterinary behaviorists are licensed veterinarians and can choose to earn the title of ACVB Diplomate. Pet psychologists should have experience with animals and should also be compassionate, patient and possess strong decision-making and problem-solving skills. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for all veterinarians was $105,240 in 2018.
Steps to Becoming a Pet Psychologist
Step 1: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
Step 2: Get an Advanced Degree
Step 3: Become Licensed (For Veterinary Behaviorists)
Step 4: Get Certified (For Applied Animal Behaviorists)
Step 5: Obtain Further Training (For Veterinary Behaviorists)
Pet psychologists can earn an average of $88,490 annually by having experience with animals, earning a bachelor’s degree in an animal behavior, followed by an advanced degree and licensing or certification.