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Animal Breeders

At a Glance

  • Work with livestock or pets
  • Sell the animals they raise
  • Know about and understand genetics
  • Usually work in kennels or corrals
  • Sometimes travel to animal shows
  • Train on the job

Career summary

Animal breeders select and breed livestock and pets.

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#4/10/19 lh

Animal breeders raise livestock used to produce products such as milk, wool, and meat. They work to improve selected characteristics in animals. Examples may include a cow that produces more milk or a hog that fattens faster. Breeders also raise animals to develop new breeds or maintain standards of existing breeds.

Animal breeders research the parents of the animals before breeding to make sure the offspring will have the desired characteristics. Breeders keep records of which animals were bred and what their offspring were like. These records are an animal's pedigree.

Breeders spend a lot of time taking care of animals. They examine animals to make sure they are healthy. They may treat sick animals themselves or call a veterinarian. They feed and water their animals and clean their quarters. They also build hutches, pens, and fenced yards for their animals. Breeders who have large businesses may spend less time taking care of animals. Instead, they hire and supervise animal caretakers.

Breeders sell the animals they raise. They exhibit some animals at shows in order to attract buyers. They sell others through auctions, or directly to hospitals, research centers, and pet shops.

In addition to pedigree records, breeders maintain other types of records. They keep track of business expenses and income. Breeders may keep records of an animal's growth rate, what it is fed, and any medicine it receives.

Related careers

This career is part of the Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to animal breeders.

Common work activities

Animal breeders perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, animal breeders:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Animal breeders frequently:

It is important for animal breeders to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for animal breeders to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Animal breeders need to:


Reason and problem solve

Use math and science

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as an animal breeder, you typically need to:

Education after high school

Formal training requirements for this job vary. Animal breeders who primarily breed pets (cats and dogs and other small animals) can enter this field by learning on the job. In some cases, college course work is helpful but not required.

Most breeders of livestock animals have at least a bachelor's degree in animal science. If your degree is in another area, you should take classes in animal science. Recommended courses are animal breeding, reproductive science, and genetics. Some professional-technical schools and two-year colleges offer associate degrees in animal breeding. Most people who do research in this area have a master's degree or higher.

Work experience

Growing up on a farm provides good work experience. It is also helpful if you join clubs such as 4-H or the National FFA Organization while in high school.

Working as an animal caretaker or trainer also can be good preparation.

On-the-job training

Even if you have a degree, most employers provide additional on-the-job training. Training may last up to one month.

Helpful high school courses

You should take a general high school curriculum that meets the state's graduation requirements (external link). You will be required to take both math and science classes to graduate.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups (PDF file) that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Entry requirements vary by employer. Commercial livestock breeding firms require at least a bachelor's degree in animal science.

Employers look for breeders who are comfortable with and knowledgeable about animals. They look for applicants who have previous experience working with animals. Experience showing animals may be an asset.

Independent breeders must meet the standards and regulations of professional breeding societies. Requirements vary by society. Breeders who meet these requirements are allowed to advertise their animals as pure bred or pedigreed.

Costs to workers

Some animal breeders join professional associations which may charge membership fees and annual dues.


Some states require that certain types of animal breeders have a license.

Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


Animal breeders (SOC 45-2021)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $13.89 $20.26 $27.63 $35.97 $45.43
Monthly $2,407 $3,511 $4,788 $6,234 $7,873
Yearly $28,890 $42,130 $57,480 $74,820 $94,500
United States Hourly $12.12 $13.91 $17.82 $25.27 $32.30
Monthly $2,100 $2,411 $3,088 $4,379 $5,598
Yearly $25,220 $28,930 $37,060 $52,550 $67,180

Wages vary by the type of animal bred. Earnings for small animal breeders are limited. For instance, breeders who raise and sell pedigreed puppies may earn only a few hundred dollars per year after expenses. Some breeders supplement their incomes by managing boarding kennels or stables.

Large animal breeders who work for large operations generally earn more than those who work for small operations. Bigger farms can raise animals more efficiently and at a lower cost.

Animal breeders who work full time may receive benefits. Typical benefits include sick leave, paid vacation, and health insurance. 

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook

The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Animal Breeders (SOC 45-2021)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 210 9.5% 16.1% 37
    Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan Counties 51 3.9% 13.4% 8
    Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman Counties 11 9.1% 8.6% 2
    Benton and Franklin Counties 19 15.8% 15.0% 3
    Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties 91 4.4% 14.6% 15
    Kittitas, Klickitat, Skamania, and Yakima Counties 46 13.0% 13.8% 8
United States 8,900 3.4% 5.2% 1,500

National employment

Major employers:

National outlook

Demand for this occupation is growing slowly. The costs of starting an animal breeding business can be high. This limits the number of people who enter this occupation. Some job openings will be in large commercial farms that are trying to improve their animals.

Other resources

AgCareers.com (external link)
Western USA Office
American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (external link)
9190 Crestwyn Hills Drive
Memphis, TN 38125
American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture (external link)
600 Maryland Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20024
American Poultry Association (external link)
PO Box 9
Lucasville, OH 45648
American Society of Animal Science (external link)
PO Box 7410
Champaign, IL 61826-7410
Animal Breeding Careers (external link)
Certified Horsemanship Association (external link)
1795 Alysheba Way, Suite 7102
Lexington, KY 40509
Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (external link)
4420 West Lincoln Way
Ames, IA 50014
National Association of Animal Breeders (external link)
8413 Excelsior Drive, Suite 140
Madison, WI 53717
Washington Business Week (external link)
PO Box 1170
Renton, WA 98057


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupation

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupations

Holland occupational clusters