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Dog handler

Alternative titles for this job include Police dog handler, detection dog handler, security dog handler

Dog handlers work with specially trained dogs to help detect and prevent crime, find lost or missing people and protect property.

Average salary (a year)

£16,000 Starter


£30,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

38 to 40 a week

You could work

evenings / weekends / bank holidays on shifts

How to become

Explore the different ways to get into this role.

How to become Dog handler

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
  • applying directly


You could take a course that will increase your knowledge and skills to handle and work with animals like a:

  • Level 2 or 3 Diploma in Animal Care or Animal Management
  • T Level in Animal Care and Management

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths for a T Level

More Information


You could do an animal trainer higher apprenticeship.

Some employers may expect you to have previous experience of working with animals.

Entry requirements

Employers will set their own entry requirements.

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship

More Information


You can train to be a dog handler if you work or have worked in the uniformed services.

Check the entry requirements for applying to be a dog handler in the:


You can gain confidence with dogs and develop your training skills through volunteering.

Organisations like the National Search and Rescue Dog Association and dog rescue charities may be useful places to search for opportunities.

Direct Application

You can apply to work with a private security firm as a dog handler. You'll need a Security Industry Authority licence to do this.

You'll have an advantage when you apply for jobs if you've got experience of working with dogs.

More Information

Further information

You can find out more about becoming a dog handler from the College of Animal Welfare.

What it takes

Find out what skills you’ll use in this role.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • the ability to teach pupils how to do something
  • physical skills like movement, coordination, dexterity and grace
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • the ability to work on your own
  • the ability to work well with others
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

Restrictions and Requirements

You'll need to:

What you’ll do

Discover the day to day tasks you’ll do in this role.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

Depending on the service you work for, you could:

  • patrol premises and protect property
  • search for lost or missing people
  • detect drugs, firearms or explosives
  • control crowds
  • look after your dog in your own home
  • attend training courses with your dog

Working environment

You could work in kennels.

Your working environment may be outdoors in all weathers and physically demanding.

You may need to wear a uniform.

Career path and progression

Look at progression in this role and similar opportunities.

Career path and progression

Promotion opportunities will depend on the service or organisation that you work for. In the police and armed forces, you may have to move out of dog handling to get promoted to the higher ranks.

In security, you could go on to be head of canine services, where you lead teams of dog handlers.

You might also become a trainer, working with organisations like search and rescue, to help train dogs and their handlers.

Current opportunities

Find apprenticeships, courses and jobs available near you.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

We can't find any apprenticeship vacancies in England for a Dog handler right now.

The Find an apprenticeship service can help you with your search, send alerts when new apprenticeships become available and has advice on how to apply.

Courses In England

T Level in Animal Care and Management

  • Start date: 03 September 2024
  • Location: NANTWICH

T Level in Animal Care and Management

  • Start date: 02 September 2024
  • Location: Shipley

Jobs In the United Kingdom

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