The minimum criteria for a person who wants to become an animal control officer may vary by region and jurisdiction. Some places do not have specific educational requirements, while other places require candidates to have college degrees. Generally, however, a person must be at least 18 years old or older to secure this position and possess at least a high-school diploma or an equivalent credential.
In places in which only a high school diploma is required, a person who wants to become an animal control officer can apply for the job and receive on-the-job training. While not absolutely necessary, it may help to gain some experience as a worker or volunteer in an animal shelter, hospital, or kennel before applying for this job. By doing so, a person can gain valuable firsthand knowledge of animal care and treatment. When up against other job candidates who lack this experience, a person with this background may find it easier to secure a job.
In jurisdictions in which a college degree is required, an individual may seek a bachelor's degree in animal science, law enforcement, or criminal justice. A person may even major in veterinary technology in preparation to become an animal control officer. Even in places that do not require such degrees, earning a bachelor’s, or even associate’s, degree in one of these fields may make a person a more attractive job candidate.
There are certain courses of study that are particularly beneficial for anyone who wants to become an animal control officer, even if the individual doesn’t seek a degree. They include the study of animal control laws and regulations related to animal cruelty. It is also helpful if an aspiring animal control officer has at least a basic knowledge of common diseases that affect animals and how to provide animal first aid. Likewise, learning basic criminal laws and procedures may be beneficial as well.
Besides education and training, a person who wants to become an animal control officer should have a genuine love for animals. Prospective animal control officers also need good communication skills for speaking with other members of the animal control team as well as for creating written reports when necessary. At times, an animal control officer may also have to interact with police or other law enforcement officials who are not used to working with animals. Good communication skills can be important in such cases as well.