The winning owners of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness or Belmont Stakes couldn't achieve those levels of success without horse trainers. Horse trainers exercise and ride the horses to get them in shape for races, and ensure they get the proper diets, grooming and care. But most horse trainers train horses for stable owners who offer public riding lessons, and for local shows and rodeo events. If you want to become a horse trainer, you'll need to be skilled in horse grooming and nutrition, equine anatomy, diseases and behavior, exercise routines, riding techniques and safety. In return, you can expect an average income of around $30,000 annually.
Salary and Qualifications
The average annual salary of a horse trainer was $34,000 as of May 2013, according to the job website Simply Hired. To qualify for a horse trainer position, you usually need just a high school diploma and basic training from another horse trainer. Horse owners might prefer that you have some knowledge of veterinary science, or understand the basic anatomy of horses. The best experience often comes from riding and caring for horses from an early age. Patience, compassion and physical stamina are also necessary traits for the job.
Salary by State or District
Average annual salaries for horse trainers can vary considerably by state or district. Horse trainers earned some of the highest annual salaries of $54,000 in the District of Columbia, according to Simply Hired. You can also earn relatively high salaries in Massachusetts and New York at $42,000 and $40,000 per year, respectively. And if you live in Ohio or Texas, expect to earn annual incomes closer to the national average for horse trainers -- $33,000 or $32,000 per year, respectively. Horse trainers earned slightly less in North Carolina, Kentucky and Oklahoma -- $31,000, $30,000 and $29,000 per year, respectively.
Horse trainers typically earn higher salaries through experience. Those who work for the same employers can earn annual merit increases. In the racing field, the demand for your services will likely increase if your horses win races. You can then command a higher salary for your services. Geographic location also impacts your salary as a horse trainer. You would earn more in New York or Massachusetts because of higher living costs in those states. Also, larger employers, or those with higher annual revenues, typically have bigger budgets to support the higher salaries.
While jobs for animal care and service workers are expected to increase 23 percent from 2010 to 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, animal trainer jobs will only increase three percent, which is much slower than the 14 percent growth rate for all occupations. Your best chance of breaking into this field might be to take courses in horse training at a community college, and then get a position as an assistant trainer. That will allow you to learn the proper procedures for exercising and caring for horses, until you're qualified to be a horse trainer.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Animal Care and Service Workers: Job Outlook
- The Equinest: Horse Jobs - Trainer
- Bright: Horse Trainer
- Simply Hired: Average Horse Trainer Salaries
- Simply Hired: Average Horse Trainer Salaries in DC
- Simply Hired: Average Horse Trainer Salaries in MA
- Simply Hired: Average Horse Trainer Salaries in NY
- Simply Hired: Average Horse Trainer Salaries in TX
- Simply Hired: Average Horse Trainer Salaries in OH
- Simply Hired: Average Horse Trainer Salaries in NC
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