How YOU can Become a Professional Pet Sitter

September is Pet Sitter Education Month. Were you aware that the occupation of “Professional Pet Sitter” exists? It does and, since COVID-19 changed our lives, there has become a shortage in this fun and fulfilling field. From 2019 – 2022 the majority of CPPS Certified professionals say that they experienced a 50% decrease in business. People simply did not leave their house and, if they did, they didn’t want strangers in their environment when the COVID was raging. This caused people to flee from the Pet Sitting industry, there just wasn’t demand for the service. However, things are looking up as the country comes out of their homes and moves back to a more normal lifestyle. People are hunting for that perfect pet sitter for everything from date nights, a long week, all the way to someone that will stay with the fur kids while parents are on a week long vacay. Could that be YOU?

The pet sitting industry is seeing a resurgence in popularity and demand. However, like all other service industries in the “post COVID” world… here is a serious lack of qualified and certified individuals to fill the void. In the USA, at the end of 2022, there were just over 45,000 certified pet sitters/walker on record. With 86.9 million homes in this country owning at least one pet (there is one dog or cat for every 2.4 people)… you can see where there might be a shortage of talent in this niche industry. This is where YOU might come into play. Did you ever consider a job in the Pet Sitting industry? Well, now might be the perfect time to act. Let’s explore the world of Professional Pet Sitting.

Who Would I “Sit” in this Occupation?

A survey of over 4,000 professionals indicated that 95% of licensed and certified Pet Sitters only watch dogs or cats (makes sense, you are what you own). 75% indicate they will watch other small animals (ferrets, bunnies, rodents, your friendly indoor skunk), 73% will hang out with your birds to assure they are socialized and fed on their normal schedule (emu’s ostriches, storks are additional cost), 70% will swim with your fishes… or at least feed and care for them (sharks and piranha are negotiable), but less that 60% are willing to buddy up with your reptiles (Godzilla can’t get a babysitter either).

What Does a Professional Pet Sitter Really DO?

There is a laundry list of potential services you could provide. Some provide only a “walking and short term sitting service” where you would show up as a trusted person to enter a clients home, walk a dog, hang out with the family pet while the owners were out and about. Some people who work from home are now hiring a Pet Sitter to come into their environment and keep the fur kids entertained, fed, and occupied while the parent works in their home office. Others provide a “Drop in” service to feed, walk, socialize, and clean up after pets while you are gone from the home for a longer period. There are also engagements where you would stay in the clients home with the animal for a the entire time the owner is gone, including overnight stays for multiple days. It’s really up to the contract negotiated and those terms. The key to growing with the job, and becoming that trusted professional and pet advisor, is consistency and the ability to build a bond with the animals.

What Education do I need to be a Professional Pet Sitter?

You can start without the certification by making yourself available as a Pet Sitter for friends and family (in the industry these folks are called Hobby Sitters). Consider that similar to a teenager who babysits on a part time basis for spending money. Small time jobs for small time money, you can only go so far. However, if you’re planning on a career in the field, having a license or a certification will make you more marketable and popular. There are two types of education you can obtain. You can get a “License” or a “Certification”. These are two different things that require two different educational paths. You can have both if you want to really boost your resume and standing. Let’s look at both paths.

  • License – Awarded by a Government Licensing Agency. Gives LEGAL Authority to work in the Pet Sitting Occupation. Requires that you pass a degree or state administered exam and meet the states predetermined criteria. This is serious stuff someone would do to be a true licensed professional.

  • Certification – Awarded by a professional organization or nongovernmental body. Not legally required to work in the occupation. Shows that you have demonstrated the competency and skills to work in the industry or job, normally proven by passing an exam or certification test.

To determine which your would need, first you need to understand what are the requirements in your city/state to operate as a pet sitting professional. A quick Google search will tell you the details for your area. As a professional you’ll need to be bonded and insured (consider the ramifications if a pet were to die under your care). These two things further your claim to be a “professional” and say that you are serious about the business. The benefits in becoming certified is that it shows you are dedicated and serious about the job, you’ve taken the extra steps to educate and prepare yourself, and it qualifies you to attend conferences/discounted services, and ongoing education. Not to mention the bonus on your resume that could separate yourself from others in the field. Additional certifications in areas like Pet First Aid and Pet CPR make you even more marketable in other areas. There are two main certification options, the National Association of Pet Sitters and Pet Sitters International, both have advantage. You can find more about each organization and their benefits and fees, with a quick web search.

Do I have to Have my Own Business, or are there Companies that Could Hire Me?

There are companies that list professional pet sitters (like an Angie’s list or for people looking for a sitter). You’ll find names like, Petbacker, FETCH!, Pet Care & PSI using this business model. You could also market yourself in your community by using ready made resource apps like CraigsList, Angie, NextDoor, or your own website placed on Google/Yahoo. Social Media also becomes a great tool for a Hobby Sitter. You can create your own business profile, list your qualifications and control your own “spin” with customer reviews and personal qualifications/stories.  The advantage to listing on a platform is that people are routed TO YOU, you don’t have to seek them out. But with these online platforms, they will take a percentage cut of the placement. Either way, you’re going to get your name out there and your success is determined by you and your skills.

How do I know if I’m a Good Fit for a Professional Pet Sitter Job?

You might like to play with animals, you might find that pets are better companions that most people, you may love dogs and cats… but these things alone will not make you a successful pet sitter. To be a true pro in this profession you’ll need a few things more than just a fondness for pets. Parents are looking for…

  • A happy and positive attitude

  • Flexibility

  • Good time manager

  • Compassionate and caring individual

  • Demonstrates responsibility and trustworthiness

  • Has experience with their pets breed or species

  • Is a good communicator (with humans and pets)

  • A hands on person, not afraid to get dirty or involved

  • Project a feeling of calm and confidence

Keep in mind that you’ll be entering an owners home, so you need to present yourself as a confident and qualified professional, willing to listen/speak/interact/answer questions/build a bond with the animals AND people. You need a basic understanding and knowledge of animal behavior for pet owners to feel comfortable leaving their fur kids in your care. Having good knowledge of leash laws, pet safety procedures, neighborhood or city regulations about pet control and access are important. Your ability to verbally communicate with the owners, and non-verbally connect with the animal is key. As you can see “just love dogs” is not enough to win over potential clients and show competency in the position.

How much Can I Expect to Make as a Pet Sitter?

As with everything else, it depends on a lot of factors. Take into consideration your part of the country, supply and demand of pet sitters in your area, your experience level, the total time of each sitting event, and your willingness to take longer sitting jobs, or overnight jobs.  Hobby Sitters make markedly less than certified and licensed Pet Sitting professionals.

A Hobby Sitter can make $12-20 for dog walking, basic visits to a home (30 minutes or less). They can make up to $20 for extended visits lasting up to 60 minutes. Longer visits over 60 minutes can bring up to $30. Overnight stays for as long as 12 hours can net $70. The more experience you have, the more positive reviews and references, the more you can charge.

A Professional Licensed and Certified Independent Pet Sitter with their own business can make $5 to $10 more per base visit than a Hobby Sitter and can make up to $100 for an overnight stay lasting 12 hours. So you can see, there are advantages to the education, extra knowledge, and skills.

A Licensed and Certified Pet Sitter listed with a Professional Company makes from $5 to $10 more per hour than an independent operator. You could charge upwards for $150 for an overnight 12 hour stay. Not bad for sleeping and responding to a pets needs.

Considering an average dog walk is 15 to 30 minutes, imagine how many clients you could fit in during a single day at $15 to $25 a walk. Also, there is normally a surcharge based on the number of animals in the home you’ll care for with extra charges for feeding, administering medication, and multiple walks in a day.  All that money for just caring for and hanging out with animals.

Does this job sound like it’s for you? Remember, there is always a cost to start and maintain any business. A quick search shows that the average cost to launch a Pet Sitting business is somewhere between $60 (Hobby Sitter with no license, insurance, certifications or framework) to $24,000 (Professional Sitter with their own business, supplies, office, insurance, certification, lawyer on retainer and license). On average, the startup cost evens out to right around $12,500 for a Professional Licensed and Certified Pet Sitter using social media and the pay to post sites for leads. Are you going to get rich?  Probably not, at least not at first. But to make money while doing something you really love, help other people in need of your services AND get to spend all your time with animals??? This could be a perfect job for you in an industry that is real need of dedicated and qualified workers. You can get started simply with an online course, designed for Hobby Sitters, in Dog Walking/Pet Sitting at How To Start a Pet Sitting & Dog Walking Business in 7 Days | Udemy

That’s our look at the Pet Sitting industry and you can launch your new career. Worst case, start as a Hobby Sitter and grow from there. Your good work can be your launching pad into a successful full time family business.

We hope this Dog Blog was informational and entertaining. For a more blogs like this on various pet related topics, check out our archives on the Freddie’s Place web home or use this handy link. FREDDIE SEZ – Freddie’s Place (

That’s all from the Fresh Prince of Pekedom for now. Come back next week to find out what #FreddieSez in his next pet related blog. Till then… be safe, be healthy, be good to each other, and above all be pet friendly.