Are there dolphin training schools? Well, kind of. Let’s take a look at your options in higher education aimed at preparing you for a job working with dolphins and marine mammals.
If you are picturing a world with multiple dolphin training schools, equipped to give you a four year degree…you are sadly mistaken. In our article “How To Become a Dolphin Trainer” we talk about the need to receive a college degree in psychology or one of the animal sciences. Getting a degree in psychology is your best choice for higher education. However, there are three other options for you that focus more on animal training. Dolphin training schools they are not, but they will prepare you for your dream job.
ABC Animal Training
This is closest thing to a dolphin training school you will find. If we ever live in a world with dolphin training schools, they will be modeled after this facility. ABC Animal Training is located in the Mexican Caribbean and houses dolphins and a variety of seals and sea lions. They offer two types of Training Academy; Basic and Advanced. Each one lasts for five days.
Exposure to alternative animal training related career
Behind the scenes access to Dolphin Discovery
This program requires you to have one year of professional animal training experience or completion of the Basic Program.
Here is what you can expect to be doing during the Advanced Program.
Notice the “the trainer in training” is in control of both dolphins. This is indeed an advanced training scenario. Notice that she feeds both dolphins at the same time to avoid aggression and is also using her whistle bridge to let them know they did the correct behavior. Clearly she has learned a lot about working with dolphins during her five day program. Now if she would only take that whistle out of her mouth when she’s talking to the guests!
While these programs are not equivalent in earning a four year degree, in terms of dolphin training schools, this is as good as it gets. It is a great way to get a crash course into this career. You will really see what it is like to work around these animals day in and day out. It gives you a behind the scenes look at the grunt work dolphin trainers must complete each day. Being able to apply the training principles with real marine mammals is also invaluable. You will learn a lot.
Becker College is located in Worcester, Massachusetts with enrollment of 2,000 students per year. Perhaps best known for their School of Animal Studies, Becker College offers an associates degree in Animal Care.
The Animal Care Curriculum covers all major aspects of animal care and animal care management, including; animal nutrition, animal science, canine obedience and grooming, animal breeding, and domestic animal behavior. Again, this is not a dolphin training school, but it does provide knowledge, information, and hands on experience to prepare you for a dolphin training career.
MoorPark College is one of the most popular schools for future animal trainers; including aspiring dolphin trainers. Located in MoorPark, California, their two-year Exotic Animal Training and Management Program (EATM Program) is well respected in the industry and gives their students a thorough education in training and caring for exotic animals. They have numerous species of animals under their care. Their students are responsible for caring and training this collection. No, they do not have any dolphins. Don’t let that deter you! Training experience with any animal will help you when you are ready to start training dolphins or other marine mammals.
Acceptance into the EATM Program is not easy. They have 52 spaces available and receive in upwards of 150 applicants.
It is also is not cheap. For non-California residents you should expect to spend about $20,000/year for tuition, books, room/board, and other living costs. You also should not expect to work an outside job during your tenure here. The hours these students work make it almost impossible to hold down a job. Financial aide is available.
Almost all of your questions regarding MoorPark College and their Exotic Animal Training and Management Program can be answered here.
*Information copied directly from the ABC Animal Training Website.
Kyle Kittleson is a former senior animal trainer at SeaWorld Orlando. Kittleson is author of the book, Wear a Wetsuit at Work, and helps aspiring trainers enter the competitive field of marine mammal training. You can learn more about Kyle Kittleson by visiting his website.