If you have a passion for animal welfare and a desire to protect both pets and people, becoming a Certified Animal Control Officer in California may be the perfect career for you. As an Animal Control Officer, you will play a critical role in enforcing animal laws, investigating animal cruelty cases, and ensuring the safety of both animals and humans in your community.

Featured Programs and Schools

To become a Certified Animal Control Officer in California, you will need to complete a comprehensive training program that covers a wide range of topics, including animal behavior, laws and regulations, investigative techniques, and humane handling and restraint techniques. This training will not only prepare you for the challenges of the job, but it will also give you the skills and knowledge necessary to provide the best possible care for the animals under your watch.

Should I Become an Animal Cop in California?

  • Education Required
  • Major Requirement
  • Licenses/Certifications
  • Experience/Training
  • Key Skills
  • Annual Mean Salary – US (2022)
  • Job Outlook – US (2020-2030)
  • Annual Mean Salary- California (2020)
  • High school diploma or GED; some students get an associate’s or bachelor’s degree
  • Law enforcement or animal science related field
  • Not Mandatory
  • Required
  • Communication Skills, Decision-making Skills, Writing Skills, Ability to Work with Animals.
  • $43,780 (Animal Control Workers)
  • 9% (Animal Care and Service Workers)
  • $57,410 (Animal Control Workers)

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Some people decide to work as animal cops because they have already been part of an animal shelter, while others are passionate to choose it as a career line. This profession involves fieldwork as well working in an office. The fieldwork of this profession is dangerous and involves multiple physical and health hazards.

Top Certified Animal Control Officer Programs in California

SchoolDegree TypeCourses TaughtDuration


Animal Behavior CollegeCertificateAnimal behavior, laws and regulations, investigative techniques, humane handling and restraint9-12 months
Animal Control AcademyCertificateAnimal law and regulations, humane animal handling, animal behavior, investigative techniques6 months
National Animal Control and Humane Officer AcademyCertificateAnimal behavior, animal control law and regulations, humane animal handling, investigative techniques1-2 years
California Animal Control Directors AssociationCertificateAnimal control law and regulations, animal behavior, leadership and management skills1-2 years
Humane Society UniversityCertificateAnimal welfare, animal behavior, animal cruelty investigations, animal control law1-2 years

Career Outlook

According to O*Net Online, the projected growth for Animal Control Officer jobs in California from 2020-2030 is 9%. This is slightly higher than the national average growth rate for this occupation. As pet ownership continues to rise and animal welfare laws become more stringent, there will likely be an increased demand for Animal Control Officers in the coming years.

Animal Control Officers in California have the opportunity to advance in their careers by taking on leadership roles within their department or pursuing additional training in related fields such as veterinary medicine or law enforcement. Other job opportunities in the field of animal welfare include working as a humane investigator, animal shelter manager, or animal behaviorist.

Steps to Become an Animal Cop in California

Follow this process to become an Animal Cop in California.

Completing Education

To become an animal cop, candidates are generally required to have a high school diploma or GED. However, some students choose to get an associate’s or bachelor’s degree to advance their career. They usually get their degree in animal science or any other related field. Some programs are general, while others allow students to choose a specific area, like wild life and aquatic life, etc.
A few candidates choose to get a degree in law enforcement as it helps them understand law and its procedure. It also allows them to recognize a crime scene and gather evidence.

Get Training

Candidates have to go through the Basic Law Enforcement Training Academy. In some cases, humane societies or Societies to Prevent Cruelty to Animals (SPCAs) hire a prospective candidate and pay for his training, while in other cases they receive the training before getting employed. This training program includes 20 hours of animal care organized by an institute which is approved by the California Veterinary Medical Association, 40 hours of state humane law training given by Stop Huntington Animal Cruelty (SHAC) and 40 hours of peace officer training.
Some organizations require a law enforcement certificate. Even though it is not mandatory, having a basic police academy certificate is also beneficial.

Get Work Experience

Professionals have to gain work experience in their related field to find employment as an animal cop. They can work in zoos, pet stores, horse stables, animal shelters and farms, etc.

Obtain Continuing Education

Animal cops are hired for a period of 3 years and are required to gain 40 hours of continuing education. These hours could be earned by a law enforcement agency, postsecondary institution or SHAC.

How Long Does It Take to Become an Animal Cop in California?

To become a Certified Animal Control Officer in California, candidates must complete a CACO training program, which typically takes 6-12 months to complete. Prior experience working with animals or in law enforcement is preferred.

What Are the Requirements for Becoming an Animal Cop in California?

Following are the requirements to become an animal cop in California:

  • Pass California Department of Justice’s background check.
  • Be of good moral character
  • Have sound mental and physical health
  • The candidate must not have engaged in any felony
  • He/she must be approved by a Superior Court Judge

How Much Can I Make After Becoming an Animal Cop in California?

According to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual mean wage for Animal Control Officers in California in 2022 was $57,410. In addition to competitive salaries, Animal Control Officers may also receive benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, and paid vacation time. Additionally, working in this field provides the opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of animals and the community.