Average Salary: $25,270
Expected Lifetime Earnings: $1,055,000
The term "animal trainer" can mean anything from a Pet Smart employee who holds puppy training classes and can also tell you where the turtle bedding is (one aisle to the left of rodent accessories, on the right next to iguana lamps) to the highly-paid trainers who work with animal actors and extras on film, TV, and stage sets.
The average salary for an employee who holds dog training workshops and classes for a national or franchised pet store is about $12.50 an hour (or about $26,000 a year). That won't buy a whole lot of doggie Halloween costumes….
If you're interested in training animals for scientific research, the average salary for that position is $47,000 a year. Training dogs or other service animals to assist people with disabilities will bring in an average of $40,000 a year. Now, let's consider those folks in the top echelon who make whopping poop-bags of kibble. (Hmmm. That doesn't sound as good as it probably feels…to them.)
Victoria Stilwell and Cesar Millan are both dog trainers. Both have their own TV shows, books, appearances, Facebook fan pages, Twitter accounts (do they tweet or bark?). Accounts of Ms. Stilwell's net worth vary from $15 million to $100 million, and Millan is rumored to be worth approximately $45 million.
Of course these folks are in the tippity-top percentile of what animal trainers make. Get a TV show, write some books, get on the lecture circuit, and, oh yeah, actually be successful at doing whatever it is you say you do…and maybe you, too, could attain entrance into this high echelon club.