Search and rescue dog training is a highly specialized skill. The job market for search and rescue dog training is not large. The reasons are because many of the people who train these dogs work on a volunteer basis and many of the handlers train their own dogs. When a paying position opens up in this small community, it is normally filled by someone already volunteering as a dog trainer.
If you are interested in making a career as a search and rescue dog trainer there are several things that you can do to make yourself an attractive candidate for the job. Following these steps will help prepare you so that when one of these rare job openings becomes available, you are a strong candidate for the position. It will take some time and dedication to find a paying job in the field, so a strong interest and dedication to the field is necessary.
The first step toward preparing for a job in search and rescue dog training is to learn how to train a dog for this job. You can find your local search and rescue group by contacting the emergency services office in your area. Contact the search and rescue group and ask what you need to do before participating in the training. If you have a dog that you are interested in training, that’s great, if not, most groups are always in need of volunteers.
Show up regularly for the search and rescue dog training sessions, whether you have a dog to train or not. It is important that you learn as much as possible about the search process. While there are a variety of books on the topic available, it is hard to replace field knowledge.
While you volunteer with the local search and rescue group, continue your education. Emergency medicine, for both humans and dogs, are important skills. Other tasks you must master are map reading, use of a compass and wilderness survival skills. While some search and rescue groups will train you in these skills, others expect you to receive this training on your own.
Finally, don’t overlook the importance of a college degree. While it may be hard to determine what the relevant degree is, for some search and rescue job openings, a college degree is highly recommended or even required. If you don’t have a degree yet, an emphasis in healthcare, such as nursing or veterinary technician, can be a good choice.