Start getting what experience you can now; your experience with pets is a good start. Animal experience now will look good on your application when you try to apply for an internship later. Keep you volunteer experience documented and if you can also get a letter of recommendation.
Training dogs could count as experience. Is there a trainer near you that does clicker training? You could possible work for, assist, or volunteer with them. The techniques and philosophy of clicker training is still used today for training marine mammals as well as other domestic and exotic animals.
Can clicker training be used with any animal?
Yes. First widely used by dolphin trainers who needed a way to teach behavior without using physical force, operant conditioning (the scientific term for clicker training) can be and has been successfully employed with animals of all sizes and species, both domesticated and wild, young and old; all breeds of dogs and puppies, cats, birds, leopards, rats, rabbits, chinchillas, fish, and more.
Clickers are used at Moorpark's Exotic Animal Training and Management (EATM) Program.
Most zoos do offer some sort of volunteer programs for teens, but the only animal contact you might get is if you work in the petting zoo. But still, any kind of volunteer work at a zoo can be good. For example if they only have a jr camp counselor position, you are still getting experience by entertaining the kids and you will also be working on your public speaking skills. See what your zoo has to offer; if you are able to volunteer there it still might be worth the one and a half hour drive.
What are some other ways to gain animal experience?
Some places to look for volunteer jobs or internships might be:
• Veterinary offices
• Animal training classes (does your dog need obedience training?)
• Local Humane Society
• Local Park Service
• Wildlife rehabilitation centers (like for wolves, bears, big cats, birds of prey, and even bats)
• Animal shelters
• Farms (for domestic animals, or even ostrich, llama, or butterfly farms)
• Pet breeders (those that breed specific kinds of dogs, cats, or horses)
• Horse stables and boarding facilities
• 4-H Clubs
f You're in Secondary School
* Begin preparing for a zoo career by reading about animals, observing them, and associating with "animal" people. (And be sure to check out the suggestions we've listed above for elementary school students -- they could apply to you too.)
* Tell your middle school or high school guidance counselors if you're interested in pursuing an animal-related career. They'll help you choose the right classes to help prepare you for further education in college.
* If you're old enough to get a part-time job, consider working or volunteering at a pet shop, veterinary hospital, animal shelter, livestock farm, horse stable, pet breeder or even a zoo, if possible. This kind of work can help you gain valuable experience that could be helpful in a zoo career. For more information on the Saint Louis Zoo's volunteer opportunities for people 15 years and older, click on Volunteer.
* If you live in the St. Louis area, consider enrolling in our Keeper for a Day program, for students in Grades 2 through 8. Working alongside a keeper in our Children's Zoo, you'll go behind the scenes to help care for some of our zoo animals, and learn what it takes to be a zookeeper.
* When you're considering which colleges or universities to attend, find those that specialize in programs of particular value to professional zoo work. These include general biology, zoology, (including specialty subjects like mammalogy, herpetology, etc.), wildlife and forestry, animal husbandry, ecology, veterinary medicine and ethology (animal behavior).
HOW TO GET EXPERIENCE
To try and see if a career in animal training or animal care is for you, SeaWorld offers a weeklong Career Camp for grades 9-12 during the summer at all three parks. Check online at SWBG-AdventureCamps.com for more information.
Many colleges and universities offer internship opportunities along with the local zoos or aquariums as part of a zoological science or similar type of degree program. Moorpark College in Southern California offers a special Exotic Animal Training and Management program designed for those who want to enter into zoological careers. In Florida, Santa Fe Community College and Pensacola Junior College offer similar programs. Volunteering at a local animal shelter, veterinarian, or wildlife rescue facility is another great way to get experience. In addition, many zoos and aquariums have docent or other volunteer positions available. It is also helpful to gain experience at the park or facility that you’re interested in working for. At SeaWorld, many of our openings for trainer and animal care positions go to applicants that have worked at the park in another department such as education - so this is a great way to get your foot in the door.
Since you will be moving to Florida you could possible attend Santa Fe Community College or Pensacola Junior College.
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How do i become a dolphin trainer?