Jesse Miller on August 26, 2016
If you’re an animal trainer — dog, cat, horse, parrot, or anything else — and you’re considering taking on more complex behavior modification cases, you should be working towards certification by a professional body like IAABC.
Certification means that an individual has demonstrated to an industry professional body that they have the knowledge and skills required to work to the standards that the professional body requires.
Getting certified in animal behavior consulting is different from achieving a qualification like a degree or a diploma, because it is awarded retrospectively. An animal behavior consultant will only be certified if they can demonstrate that they have the knowledge and skills needed to successfully treat, manage and prevent behavior problems in their chosen species. To do this, they need to have education and experience, and they have to apply.
There is no single course of study that leads to certification at the end; you can’t go to animal behavior consulting school and come out a fully certified animal behavior consultant, ready to take on your first real case. Animal behavior consultants come from a variety of diverse backgrounds; some may have expertise in human psychology, others come from academia, others from animal training, and more. Certification means all these individuals meet the standards the professional organization sets, but it does not mean all of them have exactly the same type of knowledge or specific experience.
Most professional organizations in animal behavior, including IAABC, require re-certification every three years. This is because skills can lapse, and new research is being published all the time. Certified animal behavior consultants need to show that are committed to continuing their education and professional development, so clients can be sure they are getting someone who is up to date with the latest tools and information.
It’s important to note, however, that certification is not licensure. It is not illegal to work as an animal behavior consultant before you get certified; in fact there are many people doing this work with no qualifications whatsoever. We start to discuss the problems with this in Animal Behavior Consulting 101: Part 3.