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Dolphin Research Center Training Institute

Professional Animal Trainer Program

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The DRC Training Institute offers a Professional Animal Trainer (PAT) Program as continuing education to individuals currently working in the animal training/handling field or those who have at minimum, one year of consecutive training/handling experience within the past two years. While the program’s focus is marine mammals, the courses offered can be applied for trainers who work with both marine and terrestrial animals.

Students who complete the PAT program will have expanded their knowledge and skills to successfully assess animal behavior, adeptly provide appropriate husbandry care and apply positive training techniques for the well-being and enrichment of the animals in their care. Students will also gain skills that further their abilities in applying critical thinking and creative techniques to build stronger relationships.

Program Description

This is a hybrid learning program that consists of 14 weeks of online learning followed by five days onsite at Dolphin Research Center. Students will choose six courses from the 11 offered in order to receive a certificate of completion.  At the completion of the online learning, students will come onsite to Dolphin Research Center for the hands-on portion of the program. 

  • Course Listing:

    • PD001 Furthering Relationships and Enrichment

    • PD002 Basic Behavior Modification and Training (pre-req for PD003, PD004 and PD008)

    • PD003 Advanced Behavior Modification and Training

    • PD004 Training Interactive Programs

    • PD005 Marine Mammal Research

    • PD006 Nutrition for Marine Mammals

    • PD007 Maternity Care for Marine Mammals

    • PD008 Husbandry Care and Training

    • PD009 Public Speaking and Controversy of Animals in Professional Care

    • PD010 Facilitating Positive Social Groups to Increase Welfare

    • PD011 Training and Managing California Sea Lions

Find out if you have the professional requirements to apply for Dolphin Research Center Training Institute's Professional Animal Trainer (PAT) program.

This program will be offered twice a year and will accommodate up to 20 students each time. (See course dates below.) 

2022 Program Dates

Session A: Online learning November 29, 2021 - March 7, 2022 

Session A Onsite: NO ONSITE

Session B: Online learning May 30, 2022 - September 4, 2022  

Session B Onsite: September 5, 2022 - September 9, 2022

Enrollment and Admissions Information

The application period is open year round.  The completed application, fee, and all required documents must be received two weeks prior to the start of the program.

The application deadline for Session A is November 15, 2021.

The application deadline for Session B is May 16, 2022

Application maybe downloaded from the link below.

There is $25.00 non-refundable application fee.

Group classes booked through a marine mammal facility or zoo may be scheduled separately. Please contact for costs if booking through a facility prior to completing any paperwork.


  • Option 1: Online and Onsite: $1850 per student if choosing to come onsite for hands-on work with dolphins at DRC for five days, receiving feedback from instructors. Tuition covers all admissions and lab fees. Travel, lodging and food costs are the student’s responsibility.

  • Option 2: Online Only: $1250 per student if completing the program entirely online. Must be able to video sessions with their animals, with permission from their facility, and have the ability to upload the video to the instructor.

*Application fee and tuition fee(s) are non-refundable or transferable.

Please see links to the continuing education certificate program documents below for more information regarding costs, course descriptions and the application and enrollment processes. You can also email

Meet the DRCTI Professional Animal Trainer course instructors

DRC Training Institute is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) #M072566 and licensed by the State of Florida Commission for Independent Education (CIE) #4766. 

The DRCTI Professional Animal Trainer Program (PAT) does not fall under the purview of ACCSC accreditation or CIE licensing.

The DRCTI Professional Animal Trainer Program (PAT) is an approved provider of continuing education units for the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT). Earn 30 CEUs for Behavior Consultant in our online courses. Earn 30 CEUs for Training in our onsite classes. CCPDT is the leading independent certifying organization for the dog training profession.

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Our Mission - Through education, research and rescue, Dolphin Research Center promotes peaceful coexistence, cooperation and communication between marine mammals, humans and the environment we share with the well being of DRC's animals taking precedence.
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