IAABC Articles and Resources

The goals of the IAABC were to standardize and support the practice of companion
animal behavior consulting, while providing resources for pet owners needing advice.

Animal Behavior Consulting 101 Part 7: Hours of Experience

Jesse Miller on September 15, 2016

IAABC awards skill-based certifications in animal behavior consulting. To determine whether you meet the standards for Certified or Associate Certified designated, we need evidence that you have the skills you need to sucessfully manage, prevent and modify challenging behavior in your chosen species.

But how can you assess if you’re ready to take the exam? To help you determine that, we have recommendations for each level of membership, addressing how many letters of recommendation you should be able to provide and covering the number of hours of education and experience most likely to result in success, including how many hours you have spent as a practicing animal behavior consultant.

The application to become a certified, associate certified or shelter behavior affiliate member is designed to be a rigorous test, covering application and understanding of our core competencies.

It is possible to have studied all of these things in depth while still at the start of your career, and far off our recommended 300 or 500 hours of practice. This doesn’t mean that you can’t apply for certification and be successful, but it does mean that you may be at a disadvantage.

Why recommend hours at all?

We believe that learning our core competencies explicitly, whether in a college classroom, a continuing education course, or through self-study, is a critical element of being a successful animal behavior consultant. However, this education only reaches its true value when it’s fully integrated into how you approach cases in real life. One of the hallmarks of mastery in any profession is being able to access the right knowledge at the right time. Another is being able to assess a situation and identify which elements are the most salient to coming up with a solution.

This is where the number of hours you’ve spent working in behavior modification with horses, dogs, cats, or parrots starts to matter. Synthesizing the information you get throughout your education into a complete whole takes time. Combining this body of knowledge with high-level mechanical skills, intuition, and insight takes even longer.

How long it takes to develop this kind of professional expertise depends on the individual, which is why our recommended hours are only guidelines. Some people can practice for decades and never get there; others have a natural aptitude and a great deal of dedication, and their progress is more rapid. We will never turn anyone away for lack of hours of experience. If you can pass the application, we will welcome you.

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