Animal Control Officer Certification Programs

animal control officer petting a dog
••• Les Hirondelles Photography/Getty Images

Animal control officers fill an important role in upholding public and animal safety. Their responsibilities mean they need to be well-trained to handle a wide variety of animals, both domestic and wild. There are several certifications that will enhance the qualifications of animal control officers, along with animal cruelty investigators and humane educators

Animal Control Training Services

Animal Control Training Services (ACTS) offers a variety of training programs for animal control professionals. ACTS trainers travel to the location where the trainees are located, eliminating the need for travel. The three- to four-day training courses cost between $375 and $550 per student. The host agency receives two complimentary registrations for every 10 paid registrations.

East Coast Animal Control Academy

The East Coast Animal Control Academy, presented by Carroll Community College in Maryland, offers a training program for animal control officers. The program is endorsed by the Humane Society of the United States and the Maryland Police & Correctional Training Commission.

Applicants must be employed by an animal shelter, humane society, or police department. The course consists of approximately 84 hours of instruction over an 11-day period. The total cost is under $1,500. Graduates receive a Continuing Education certificate and credit hours.

Florida Animal Control Association

The Florida Animal Control Association (FACA) offers certification programs for animal control officers at four colleges. ACO certification courses run for five days and range from $475 to $595 depending on the hosting institution.

National Animal Control Association

The National Animal Control Association (NACA) offers a certification program through its training academy. The academy is a two-level program with each level offering five days (and 40 hours) of instruction. Animal control officers, police officers, and those interested in careers in animal care or animal control are welcome to attend. Certification (including the required level one and two courses) costs $1,050. Additional levels of curriculum are available. These training academy programs are offered throughout the United States.

National Animal Cruelty Investigations School

The National Animal Cruelty Investigations School, founded in 1990, offers a certification program for animal cruelty investigators, animal control officers, police officers, and other interested members of the community. There are three week-long components (each consisting of 40 hours) that must be completed for certification as a humane investigator. Tuition ranges from $600 to $650 per week. Partial scholarships (of $300) may be available through the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The program has been featured on the Discovery Channel. 

New Jersey Certified Animal Control Officers Association

The New Jersey Certified Animal Control Officers Association (NJCACOA) offers a basic certification course through its Career Development Institute. The class meets once a week for a total of 15 weeks and includes at least 45 hours of instruction. Some colleges also offer the course, whereby graduates can earn three college credit hours. A list of participating colleges is available on the NJCACOA website.

Society of Animal Welfare Administrators

The Society of Animal Welfare Administrators (SAWA) offers a Certified Animal Welfare Administrator (CAWA) certification program to all animal welfare professionals. The program is only available to members of the organization, and the current fees can be found on the SAWA website. Follow-up continuing education credit hours are required for a graduate to maintain certification in the CAWA program.

Texas Academy of Animal Control Officers

The Texas Academy of Animal Control Officers (TAACO) offers a certification course for animal control officers, animal cruelty investigators, and animal care technicians. The four-week (130-hour) course awards two state certifications and 14 certificates of completion in specific aspects of animal control. The cost of the course is under $5,000. The TAACO also offers a Basic Animal Care Tech (BACT) certification, which is an introductory course that covers shelter management and animal care topics. This is a 4.5-day (36-hour) course. A wide variety of continuing education courses are also available.