£16,000 Starter - £26,000 Experienced
38 to 40 a week (evenings / weekends / bank holidays on shifts)
Where to start
You can get into this job through
an apprenticeshipworking towards this roleapplying directly
You could do an animal trainer higher apprenticeship.
You'll usually need 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A-Levels, or the equivalent, for a higher or Level 6 (degree) apprenticeship.
You can apply to be a dog handler if you're already working in an organisation like the police, British army or Royal Air Force.
See the appropriate job profiles for more information on career paths in the police or armed services.
You could get voluntary experience with the National Search and Rescue Dog Association before applying to be a dog handler.
You can apply to work with a private security firm as a dog handler. You'll need a Security Industry Authority licence to do this.
You'll have an advantage when you apply for jobs if you've got experience of working with dogs.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- the ability to teach people and animals how to do something
- physical skills like movement, coordination and dexterity
- the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
- patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- the ability to work on your own
- the ability to work well with others
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- excellent verbal communication skills
- to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
Restrictions and Requirements
You'll need to pass enhanced background checks and
have a good level of fitness
What you’ll do
Depending on the service you work for, you could:
- patrol premises and protect property
- search for lost or missing people
- detect drugs, firearms or explosives
- control crowds
- look after your dog in your own home
- attend training courses with your dog
You could work in kennels.
Your working environment may be outdoors in all weathers and physically demanding.
You may need to wear a uniform.
Career path and progression
Promotion opportunities will depend on the service or organisation that you work for. In the police and armed forces, you may have to move out of dog handling to get promoted to the higher ranks.
In security, you could go on to be head of canine services, where you direct teams of dog handlers.
You might also become a trainer, working with organisations like search and rescue, to help train dogs and their handlers.