Animal Behavior Certification Programs

Woman training a pack of Golden Retrievers in the snow
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Like other fields of science and psychology, the study of animal behavior is constantly evolving. Professionals in the field must work hard to keep up and develop their knowledge and practices over time. There are several certificate options available that can enhance a candidate’s professional credentials. Here are some of the best-known certification programs:

American College of Veterinary Behaviorists

The American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (ACVB) is a professional organization comprising veterinarians who have achieved board certification in the specialty of veterinary behavior. Diplomates of the ACVB must be licensed veterinarians and complete at least three additional years of training through a recognized residency program. They must also submit case reports, publish their findings on a research project, and pass a comprehensive two-day examination.

Animal Behavior Institute

The Animal Behavior Institute (ABI) offers nine certificate programs and three specialized certificates available online. The total cost for each certificate program is $5,925 plus some additional fees for books. Many organizations recognize ABI certificates for continuing education credit hours.

Certificate programs offered by ABI include animal-assisted therapy, animal training and enrichment, zoo and aquarium science, wildlife rehabilitation, and laboratory animal behavior. Each certificate program comprises five courses and can be completed in less than a year. Candidates must also complete 40 hours of hands-on fieldwork through employment or volunteering.

Specialized certificates are available for those wishing to focus on a single species (canine, equine, or feline training and behavior). The specialized certificate program consists of three courses and can be completed in six to nine months. Candidates must also complete 40 hours of fieldwork for these programs. The certificates cost $3,555 each, not including textbooks.

Animal Behavior Society

The Animal Behavior Society offers two levels of professional certification: associate certified applied animal behaviorist (ACAAB) and certified applied animal behaviorist (CAAB). ACAAB certification requires a master's degree (including a variety of animal behavior coursework and research), at least two years of experience, and a presentation at an ABS annual meeting. CAAB certification requires a doctoral degree, at least five years of experience, and a presentation at an ABS annual meeting. Certification costs $50 per year (plus a $100 application fee) and is valid for five years.

Association of Animal Behavior Professionals

The Association of Animal Behavior Professionals (AABP) offers several certification options including certified dog behavior consultant (AABP-CDBC), certified parrot behavior consultant (AABP-CPBC), certified cat behavior consultant (AABP-CCBC), and certified animal behavior consultant (AABP-CABC). Certification may be achieved either through formal education or passing the AABP proficiency exam. Candidates must be able to demonstrate their experience through a variety of available options.

Companion Animal Sciences Institute

The Companion Animal Sciences Institute (CASI) offers web-based certification in animal behavior, canine behavior, equine behavior, feline behavior, and parrot behavior. The diploma in animal behavior covers whatever combination of canines, felines, and parrots or, a candidate chooses, or there is an option to specialize in a single-species course. 

The animal behavior science and technology program requires 600 hours of coursework and takes approximately 12 months to complete. Tuition ranges from 2,800 to 3,200 Canadian dollars, depending on the number of animals you choose to include. The species-specific diplomas each require 500 hours of coursework and take approximately 12 months to complete. Tuition is CA$2,600 per program.

The CASI diplomas are approved for continuing education credit hours by several animal behavior organizations including the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants and the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers.

International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants

The International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) offers associate certified and certified membership options to its members. Certification may focus on work with dogs, cats, horses, or parrots. Yearly dues are $95 for associate certified members and $120 for certified members. Both options require at least 36 hours of continuing education every three years to maintain certification.

Associate certified membership requires a candidate to have at least 300 hours of experience in animal behavior consultation, two written case studies, and three letters of recommendation.

Certified membership requires a candidate to have at least 3 years (and 500 hours) of experience in animal behavior consultation, three written case studies, four written case scenarios, and three letters of recommendation.