From vets to groomers to dog walkers, there's no shortage of careers for animal-loving people out there, and no shortage of customers who love to pamper their pets. If you have a penchant for dog whispering, the position of dog obedience instructor might suit you. Perhaps because there's no standard education or certification required for this gig, there's also no stock-standard “average” hourly salary. However, reputable research paints a fairly consistent picture of your typical instructor's hourly earnings.
In 2012, the United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics pegged the mean hour wage of animal trainers -- including obedience instructors -- at $14.59 per hour, making for a yearly salary of $30,340. The same report puts the hourly wage of the top 10 percent of instructors at $23.96, with the bottom 10 percent clocking in at $8.45 per hour.
Stats provided by the BLS illustrate a range of hourly pay based on what sort of obedience instructor you are. Trainers in the “personal services” sector -- or those that work with regular dogs belonging the families and individuals, the most common type of obedience instructor -- made an average hourly wage of $15.96 in 2012. In comparison, instructors that worked with competitive or sporting dogs made a more lucrative average of $17 per hour, while those who trained service dogs made roughly $15 hourly.
If you work as an obedience instructor, the sector you work in isn't the only factor that determines your wage -- the state you live in also has a strong influence on your paycheck. According to the BLS, Delawarean instructors made the healthiest hourly wage in 2012, at a solid mean of $19.65 per hour. California and Oregon followed at $18.48 and $18.47 per hour, respectively. In 2013, the Economic Research Institute's SalaryExpert website listed Californians as top earners in the field, followed by New Yorkers.
Hourly earnings often come with a few caveats for dog obedience instructors. Work is plentiful on weekends and evenings, but some trainers may have difficulty filling their schedules during weekdays, when most dog owners are at work. Likewise, the work is typically seasonal. Additionally, self-employed obedience instructors have to worry about rent, insurance, advertising and other expenses. Peggy Pruden of the National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors notes that this can be a “financially draining” position” and advises beginning instructors: “Don't quit your day job!”
- United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2012: 39-2011 Animal Trainers
- SalaryExpert: Obedience Instructor Salaries
- Association of Pet Dog Trainers: So You Want to Be a Dog Trainer!
- National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors: How Do I Become a Dog Trainer and Obedience Instructor?
Dan Ketchum has been a professional writer since 2003, with work appearing online and offline in Word Riot, Bazooka Magazine, Anemone Sidecar, Trails and more. Dan's diverse professional background spans from costume design and screenwriting to mixology, manual labor and video game industry publicity.