Kennel Manager Job Description and Career Profile
Kennel managers are responsible for the daily care of the dogs kept under their supervision. They must oversee the dogs kept in their kennels to ensure that they are cared for properly. Some duties might include scheduling boarding appointments, cleaning cages and runs, grooming, bathing, feeding, exercising, meditating, and monitoring the behavior of boarded dogs.
Kennel managers must also have excellent public relations skills so that they can interact with owners as they drop off and pick up their pets. They also are responsible for creating work schedules and supervising staff members in larger kennel facilities.
In boarding kennels that operate as a part of a veterinary clinic, the kennel manager may be responsible for helping handle and restrain dogs for procedures performed by the vet during their stay. Some kennels also may offer dog training services while dogs are being boarded, so managers may be involved with performing or supervising training activities.
Things to Consider
Kennel managers may be required to work irregular hours that can include evenings and weekends. They must also be available when “on call” for emergencies that might arise after hours or on holidays, and fill in when employees call in sick or must miss work. The kennel manager has the ultimate responsibility for making sure all duties are completed each day.
As with any animal-related career, there is potential for injury while working with animals that have been brought into unfamiliar surroundings. Kennel workers must use caution when administering medication, feeding, and exercising boarded dogs to minimize the risk of bites or scratches.
Kennel managers can work in a variety of settings including boarding kennels, show dog breeding facilities, veterinary clinics, animal rescue facilities, and doggie daycares. A kennel manager may work for an established kennel or open their own facility.
Some kennels also offer boarding services for cats, rabbits, exotic birds, or other pets.
Education and Training
While no degree or formal training is required to secure a position as a kennel manager, many managers have a college degree in an animal-related field such as animal science or biology. These degrees can involve a variety of coursework in anatomy, physiology, behavior, veterinary science, production, and other relevant topics.
Most successful applicants have a solid background working with dogs professionally before they advance to the position of kennel manager. Useful prior experience may include work as a veterinary technician, dog show handler, dog groomer, dog walker, or dog trainer. Taking a job as a kennel assistant and working up to a management role is also a frequent pathway to achieving a management position.
The salary that a kennel manager earns can vary based on the manager’s level of experience, the size of the kennel, and the type of kennel facility (whether it operates as part of a breeding, boarding, or veterinary operation).
SimplyHired.com cited an average salary of $35,000 for kennel managers in 2015. PayScale.com data showed a similar average salary of $32,000 in 2015, with top managers earning as much as $41,602 per year. Experienced kennel managers working for top breeders or large boarding kennels can earn higher end salaries.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not separate out kennel manager salaries from the category of animal care and service workers, so this skews their earnings estimate a bit lower than the previous two sources. The BLS survey indicated that the salary for all animal care and service workers ranges from $16,750 for the lowest 10 percent to more than $33,880 for the top 10 percent.
The 2011 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) survey projected that job opportunities for animal care and service workers would increase by 11 percent from 2014 to 2024, a rate slightly faster than the average for all careers.
A survey by the American Pet Products Association (APPA) projected that grooming and boarding services in the U.S. would bring in $5.24 billion in revenue for 2015, up from previous grooming and boarding revenues of $4.84 billion the year before. The population of pets kept in American households was also projected to show a steady increase.
There should be ample opportunities for job seekers to pursue kennel management positions as more facilities will be opened to accommodate the increasing population of pets. Kennel positions also have a higher turnover rate than many other animal-related careers, which should also translate to more opportunities for those seeking to enter the kennel management field.