Animal Shelter Manager: Career Profile and Salary Info

Female volunteers petting a dog in animal shelter
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Animal shelter managers are responsible for guaranteeing the humane treatment of animals, overseeing facility maintenance, and supervising shelter staff.


Animal shelter managers supervise all animal shelter employees including animal control officers, kennel workers, pet adoption counselors, humane educators, veterinarians, and volunteers. They also are tasked with ensuring that animals are treated humanely and that the facilities are maintained and upgraded properly.

Routine duties include preparing reports, developing operational procedures, creating budgets, seeking additional sources of funding, promoting adoption events, interacting with donors, ordering supplies, giving tours, and representing the shelter at community events. Animal shelter managers primarily work routine office hours but some evening and weekend hours may be necessary depending on the shelter’s operating schedule.

Though animal shelter managers primarily work in an administrative role, they may also come into direct contact with animals while assisting their staff from time to time. While handling animals, animal shelter staff must be careful to take adequate safety precautions with animals that may be under stress from prior neglect or being in an unfamiliar environment.

Career Options

Animal shelter managers may find positions with animal shelters, humane societies, animal rescues, and other nonprofit animal welfare organizations. They may also leverage their experience as they transition into a variety of other animal management careers.

Education & Training

A college degree in business administration, animal science, or a closely related field is generally desired for most animal shelter manager positions. Experience working with animals (particularly in a shelter environment) is a big plus. Several years of experience in a managerial role is also usually a prerequisite, with this experience ideally being completed through work at an animal nonprofit or rescue organization.

Since they will largely be concerned with administrative duties, animal shelter managers should have solid computer skills including a familiarity with using popular record keeping and word processing programs (Microsoft Word, Excel, and database management software). Communication skills are also important, as shelter managers must interact regularly with staff members and the public. Financial management skills are also a plus, as shelter managers must oversee a budget and plan fundraising initiatives.


The salary that an animal shelter manager earns can vary based on a variety of factors such as their specific responsibilities, their years of experience, their educational background, and the region in which the position is located. Most animal shelter manager positions do not carry particularly high salaries, but those who follow animal rescue career paths tend to be willing to sacrifice some earning potential for the prospect of being able to help animals in need. cited an average salary of $59,000 per year for animal shelter managers in 2015. Several positions on also advertised salaries ranging from $40,000 to $55,000.

Job Outlook

The number of animal shelters, animal rescue groups, and humane societies has steadily increased over the past decade to accommodate the rising number of unwanted or stray pets. According to statistics provided by the National Council on Pet Population, Study and Policy (NCPPSCP), the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) estimates that there are about 5000 community shelters currently operating in the United States. These groups are responsible for taking in 6 to 8 million dogs and cats each year and placing about half of the adoptable animals in new homes.

The NCPPSCP statistics also indicate that about 65 percent of pet owners obtain their pets for free or at a relatively low adoption cost. The American Pet Products Association reports that there are pets in 62 percent of U.S. households. It is expected that more positions will be created for animal shelter managers each year as more shelters are built and populated to serve the needs of various communities.