How To Become a Kennel Technician
Updated June 30, 2023
Kennel technicians care for animals housed in kennel facilities, whether at pet boarding businesses, veterinary offices or animal shelters. If you enjoy working with dogs, cats and other pets, you may want to consider this job option on a full- or part-time basis. By learning about the job's responsibilities and requirements, you can determine whether it suits you.
In this article, we discuss the kennel technician role, including the typical duties and necessary skills, along with steps you can take to pursue this job.
Kennel technicians help veterinarians and veterinary technicians care for animals in environments like animal shelters, vet clinics and pet boarding facilities.
These roles rarely have specific educational or experience requirements, but it can help to get a high school diploma and earn a certification from a professional organization, such as the Professional Animal Care Certification Council.
It can help to show potential employers that you have a history of taking responsibility independently and solving problems, especially when working with animals.
What is a kennel technician?
A kennel technician is responsible for supervising and caring for animals in kennels. They can work at kennels within pet boarding facilities, veterinary clinics and animal shelters. When working at vet offices, they work alongside veterinarians and veterinary technicians, who manage the animals' health needs. Kennel technicians perform numerous animal caretaking tasks, such as taking them on walks, feeding them and administering medications. This job typically involves working with cats and dogs, though they may encounter other domestic pets like rodents or birds. These professionals are sometimes called kennel assistants or attendants.
What does a kennel technician do?
Kennel technicians can work in various environments, so their day-to-day responsibilities may vary according to their employers' needs. Some of their typical job duties include:
Providing food and water to animals according to a set schedule
Taking animals on walks and picking up after them
Playing with or supervising animals in play areas
Cleaning and disinfecting kennel facilities, equipment and other items
Assisting with grooming and bathing activities
Interacting with pet owners' and checking boarded animals in and out
Monitoring pets' conditions and communicating with owners as needed
Keeping records related to pets' physical condition, feedings and other activities while at the kennel
Administering medications to animals, under the direction of veterinarians or veterinary technicians
Assisting veterinary professionals to provide treatments to animals
Necessary skills for kennel technicians
Working as a kennel technician requires a combination of hard and soft skills to perform this job effectively. You can gain hard or technical skills through your relevant education or on-the-job training. These skills may include administering medications or treatments or performing grooming services. Some of the skills that may benefit you in this role include:
As a kennel technician, you interact with colleagues, supervisors and, potentially, customers daily. Strong verbal communication skills help you can speak to these individuals clearly and confidently. For example, you may need to convey messages regarding an animal's conditions to ensure its health and safety. Listening represents another communication skill, and kennel technicians often work under the supervision of others. Being able to listen and follow through on the instructions provided can enable you to build trust with your colleagues.
As mentioned, some kennel technician jobs may require you to interact with customers or clients. Along with communication skills, you can use empathy to establish strong relationships with the people you serve. These skills help you understand the business's customers, helping you perform your job in a way that meets or exceeds their expectations. These individuals may also rely on you to care for their pets, so providing positive or knowledgeable customer interactions can help you develop their trust.
Caring for animals requires a strong sense of responsibility, ensuring that you provide a safe, positive experience for them. You can demonstrate responsibility by performing the tasks asked of you in a timely, efficient and accurate manner. When supervisors recognize that you finish your duties without much supervision or prodding, such as cleaning animals' cages, it can lead them to gain more trust in your abilities. Their trust may lead to career advancement opportunities. This skill also includes being accountable for your actions and taking ownership of any mistakes you make.
While working as a kennel technician, you need to supervise the pets under your care and monitor their well-being. When you identify issues, your relevant animal care knowledge and problem-solving skills can help you develop appropriate solutions. For example, if you notice a dog exhibiting odd behaviors, you can examine them and analyze the situation to determine your next steps. If you cannot come up with or perform a solution yourself, you can seek assistance from a supervisor or colleague.
While you may enjoy working with animals, it can sometimes be challenging. Animals do not communicate or behave like humans, so you may find yourself in frustrating or difficult situations at times. Patience can help you manage these frustrations and continue to provide compassionate care even in high-stress scenarios. Similarly, demonstrating a calmer demeanor can help you create a more comfortable environment for nervous or stressed animals.
Attention to detail
Kennel technicians may need to record information about animals' time spent at kennels and share it with supervisors or clients. Attention to detail ensures that they provide accurate work. They also perform numerous housekeeping activities, so this skill may also help them identify and thoroughly clean all necessary areas and items to provide a sanitary and safe environment. This cleanliness can help maintain high-quality standards and a positive reputation for the business.
How to become a kennel technician
If you want to work as a kennel technician, you can use the following steps as guidance for gaining employment in this field:
1. Obtain a high school education
Kennel technician jobs typically do not have specific educational requirements. However, employers tend to seek candidates who have a high school diploma. While not required, you can take courses related to animal sciences as a high school student to increase your knowledge and understanding of animals. As mentioned, kennel technicians sometimes work for veterinarians, so this knowledge could help you prepare for a career in the veterinary field. If you did not graduate high school, you can get your GED at any point after turning 16.
2. Gain relevant experience
Employers often appreciate candidates who have a passion for animals or relevant experience working with them. You can find numerous opportunities to demonstrate these qualities, whether through volunteer work or jobs. For example, you may work as a dog walker or pet sitter to practice basic animal caretaking skills, such as walking and feeding pets.
You can also find opportunities to volunteer at animal shelters. These volunteer roles often share many of the responsibilities held by kennel technicians, from providing animal care to cleaning up the facilities. Depending on the shelter, you may receive training that prepares you for full- or part-time kennel technician roles. Due to the similarities, working within shelter environments may also help you assess your interest in working as a kennel technician.
3. Review additional education options
While not required by employers, you may pursue additional education or training to further prepare for kennel technician roles. You can research vocational schools or community colleges in your area to identify any certificate or associate's degree programs related to animal care and management. An associate's degree program may take up to two years to complete, while a certificate program can take a year or less.
Try to choose programs that focus on domestic animals when possible, as those skills may offer more relevance to this career. In these programs, you can gain specialized knowledge and skills related to animal care and handling. Depending on the program, you may even learn the procedures for working with ill or injured animals. Some schools have partnerships with local animal care facilities, allowing you to gain relevant, hands-on experience as a student.
4. Consider gaining certification
While not required, certifications can demonstrate to employers that you have the knowledge and skills needed to work as a kennel technician. Taking the additional effort to gain certifications can also prove your interest in the field and passion for it. You can research animal or pet care professional associations to identify potentially relevant certifications.
For example, the Professional Animal Care Certification Council offers a Certified Professional Animal Care Provider designation. While not directly related, the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters and Pet Sitters International both offer pet-sitter certifications that can demonstrate your relevant and transferable pet care skills. The requirements for these certifications vary—depending on the program, you may need to have a particular amount of experience, get letters of recommendation or pass an exam.
5. Apply for kennel technician roles
As mentioned, the minimum requirements for kennel technician jobs include having a high school diploma or GED and relevant experience. Some employers provide on-the-job training, giving you the specific skills and knowledge needed to perform the position's responsibilities even if you do not have prior experience. When applying for jobs, make sure to read the posting carefully to assess the qualifications sought by the employer.
You can highlight how your skills, experiences or interests align with those needs through your resume and job interviews. By including details relevant to the employer, you can demonstrate how you would support and add value to their team. As mentioned, having additional education or certifications can help prove your expertise and interest in the field. It can also differentiate you from other candidates.
Frequently asked questions about kennel technicians
When considering pursuing kennel technician jobs, you may have some questions. Here are some frequently asked questions about this position and their answers to help you assess this role:
What is the work environment like for kennel technicians?
As mentioned, kennel technicians can find employment at kennels within veterinary offices, boarding facilities or animal shelters. Their role requires performing cleaning activities, so they sometimes encounter animal waste or unpleasant odors. Working with large groups of animals can also sometimes be stressful based on their behaviors or noise levels. Kennel technicians must also stay mindful of the animals they work with and protect themselves from diseases, bites or scratches.
In terms of their work schedule, kennel technicians may work full time, at 40 hours per week, or on a part-time basis. To meet animals' needs, they may have to work during evenings, weekends or holidays. This role may also require candidates with physical abilities, such as strength and stamina as they may spend significant time standing or moving and lifting objects.
Are there advancement opportunities for kennel technicians?
If you enjoy working as a kennel technician, you may consider pursuing a career in the veterinary field. Performing this role within a veterinary clinic can help you understand its day-to-day operations and gain relevant experience administering and assisting with treatments.
A veterinary technician, for example, has more responsibilities related to animals' health while still working under the direction of a veterinarian. This role requires obtaining an associate's degree in veterinary technology. It also offers a salary boost, with the average national salary being $16.17 per hour.
What is the average salary for kennel technicians?
Kennel technicians typically earn an hourly wage. The average salary for a kennel technician in the United States is $10.48 per hour. Their salaries can vary based on several factors, including their geographic location or their employer.
What is the job outlook for kennel technicians?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not offer a job outlook specifically for kennel technicians. However, this profession falls under the category of animal care and service workers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the employment of such occupations will grow 22% from 2019 to 2029. This growth rate is considered much faster than the average 4% growth rate for all occupations.
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