Job description

Animal breeders use their knowledge of genetics, conformation and animal science to breed animals for superior offspring. These professionals specialise in certain species such as cats, dogs, pigs, cows or chickens.

Animal breeders select pets and farm animals to produce offspring with desired traits and characteristics, such as chickens that lay more eggs, sheep that have desirable wool, or purebred dogs.

Duties

    • Select breeding stock
    • Keep record of animals’ health, size and weight
    • Track the traits and characteristics of animal offspring
    • Monitor and record amount and quality of animal produce
    • Examine animals for infections, illnesses and diseases
    • Administer drugs and vaccinations to animals
    • Communicate with farmers, ranchers and agricultural managers about livestock
    • Meet, negotiate and consult with other animal breeders
    • Arrange for sales of animals
    • Transfer and sell animal products like eggs and wool
    • Perform artificial insemination
    • Assist with animal births
    • Maintain cages, shelters and kennels
    • Feed, walk and play with animals
    • Participate in animal shows and competitive events

Skills, qualities and knowledge

Dexterity
Physical stamina
Physical strength
Mechanical
Compassion
Observation
Problem-solving
Sales
Attention to detail

Working hours and environment

Average working hours

40hweek

Typical schedule

Unpredictable

Nights, weekends, holidays occasionally

Animal breeders work in their homes, animal shelters, farms, zoos, laboratories and other outdoor settings. Exposure to the outdoors means facing undesirable weather conditions, especially when taking animals for walks, during play time, and when feeding them in their kennels and shelters.

This job can be physically demanding as it involves a lot of lifting, bending and crouching. Animal breeders are also at risk of injury from the animals (including bites and scratches), and can be exposed to diseases and infections. For this reason, they often wear protective gear and stick to health and safety procedures.

Animal breeders are sometimes required to travel when animals are relocated.

Salary

Bottom 10%

$25k

Median

$37k

Top 10%

$67k

Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.

Qualifications and training

Education level

High School

DVM / VMD degree

Study time

1month

Animal breeders usually require a high school diploma to be considered for this role. Although it is not a necessity, they often obtain degrees in fields such as animal science, animal reproduction or biology.

On-the-job training is typically offered, but having previous experience with a particular species can be highly beneficial. This might involve interacting with livestock, competing in breed shows or working on a farm or zoo. Some animal breeders will also require a developed skillset using artificial insemination or live cover breeding techniques.

In some cases, animal breeders require a licence. There is the option to work as self-employed or as an employee of a farm or producer.

Job outlook

Projected growth
The projected growth rate of employment in the US from 2016 to 2026, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme. The national average growth rate for all professions is 7%.

2%

No of new jobs
The number of jobs projected to become available in the US between 2016 and 2026, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme.

200

Automation risk
The probability of computerisation, based on data published in ‘The Future of Employment’, a 2013 working paper by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne.

95%

Career progression

Animal breeders might progress to specialise in other animal species, such as cattle or reptiles. They also have the opportunity to narrow their focus on producing a specific breed within a certain species, like exotic birds or snakes.

Self-employed animal breeders can advance to start their own business, while those employed by companies have the chance to progress to managerial roles.

Some animal breeders might become show judges, or lobbyists and campaigners.