Pet Sitters

How to Become a Certified Professional Pet Sitter

certified pet sitter

Increased competition has motivated experienced dog walkers and pet sitters to differentiate themselves from tech companies. Experienced pet sitters are now using the term “professional” to describe themselves. To reinforce their professionalism, they are earning a certified pet sitter credential.

What does it me to be a certified pet sitter?

To start, a certification is not a license. A license is something required by a government organization in order to perform services. Not too many cities or states require a specialized dog walking license, but many do require one for boarding. The difference between a license and a certification is that one (a license) is required, the other (a certification) is voluntary.

In some industries, having an optional certification can mean increased earning potential. Take, for example, my former profession, accounting. Almost every accounting firm offers bonuses, promotions, and pay increases when someone becomes a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). This is also true in nursing, finance, and automotive repair to name a few.

A certification implies that a person has:

  • Completed educational coursework
  • Taken an exam to prove their knowledge
  • Gained relevant experience under the supervision of an expert.
  • Has completed ongoing education.

What Pet Sitting Certifications are Avaiable?

Obtaining certification as a professional dog walker or pet sitter is a bit of a wild west situation with no clear consensus leader. In our accounting example, certification is facilitated by a single exam, the Uniform CPA Exam issued by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA). This is not the case for dog walkers or pet sitters. There is no single entity for becoming a certified professional pet sitter.

For this article, we’ll look at the 3 most popular organizations for pet sitters and the requirements to obtain their certifications.

Pet Sitters International

Pet Sitters International (PSI) offers the Certified Professional Pet Sitter (CPPS) Certification. In order to obtain this certification, pet sitters must:

  • Be a member of PSI
  • Pass the CPPS Exam (80% or higher score required)
  • Agree to PSI’s Recommended Quality Standards
  • Agree to PSI’s Member Code of Conduct and Ethics
  • Complete 30 hours of continuing education every 3 years

To help facilitate passing the exam, PSI does have study aids available for download. Once a candidate registers for the exam, they have 6 months to take it.

National Association of Professional Pet Sitters

The National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS) offers a certification course and exam for dog walkers and pet sitters. The requirements for certification are:

  • Pass the NAPPS certification exam (75% or higher score required).
  • Complete 30 hours of continuing certification every 3 years or retake the full exam.

The NAPPS course and certification exam are open to both members and non-members; however, members receive reduced pricing. Upon completion of the exam, certificate holders are also eligible for a 15% savings on insurance through Business Insurers of the Carolinas.

Professional Animal Care Certification Council

Perhaps the most rigorous and independent certification program is offered by the Professional Animal Care Certification Council (PACCC). They offer 3 different certifications based on your job responsibilities. The 3 certification programs and their requirements are:

Certified Professional Animal Care Provider (CPACP)

  • 90 days or 500 hours of experience
  • 2 recommendation letters
  • Pass a 125 question exam
  • 20 hours of continuing education every 3 years

Certified Professional Animal Care Manager (CPACM)

  • A minimum level of traditional education (high school diploma)
  • 2 years or 4,000 hours of experience
  • 2 recommendation letters
  • Pass a 150 question exam
  • 30 hours of continuing education every 3 years

Certified Professional Animal Care Operator (CPACO)

  • A minimum level of traditional education (high school diploma)
  • 5 years of experience
  • 1 year as a business owner
  • Membership in a professional organization
  • Ongoing community service participation
  • 3 professional references
  • Pass a 175 question exam
  • 30 hours of continuing education.

PACCC offers a number of study guides including video tutorials. Upon completion of the certification, pet professionals can obtain a listing in their PACCC Certified Directory.

The pet-sitting industry is rapidly changing. More pet sitters are starting businesses and technology companies are creating a challenging business environment. Obtaining professional certification for dog walking and pet sitting is one way to differentiate yourself from the pack and increase the value of your services.

Are you a certified dog walker or pet sitter? Scout would love to hear about your experience in the comments. You can also email us at hello@scoutforpets.com