Top careers for a caring Pet Crematory are not just about finding the right person to fit the job but having the education behind them.  But how do you get the training for an industry that is still growing and doesn’t have many options for educational opportunities?

In the last couple weeks we have dove into the subject matter of educating staff, accreditations and the importance of both not only in many industries but specifically to the pet care and pet aftercare professions. So how does one go about getting more education within these industries? And what resources are out there for people interested in these fields and wanting to make themselves stand out amongst the crowd?

Wanting a job where you help people and pets?

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We will look further into the positions of Crematory Operators and Grief Counselors in the Pet Aftercare industry. These two positions are probably not only the most common in the industry but two of the most important when it comes to having a caring pet crematory and pet memorial business.

Pet Crematory Operator– What’s that?

Let’s first take a look at Crematory Operator. Now you might be saying to yourself, who wants to do that job? Isn’t that depressing? We get that a lot! And the answer isn’t black and white. Of course the job has its difficulties like any other job but the rewards of this position are beyond words. For almost two decades in this industry myself, I have learned each and every job within my company. Crematory Operator was my first and most crucial task to learn for the growth of Eden Memorial. Yes of course it’s not for the faint heart but each beloved pet is placed in their own body bag and placed into the chamber in the most dignified way possible.

Many of us in this profession find ourselves talking to them as we send them on their journey. Now not “crazy “ talk…but more of a caring conversation and send off.

            “It’s ok Buddy…here we go.”

Pet Crematory 101

Now chances are you won’t be signing up for classes at your local college for Pet Crematory Operator 101; but one can only dream! Currently, this position is one where you would not only get on the job training within a reputable pet crematory but there are also certifications you can work toward with certain pet memorial associations. Associations like: IAOPCC, CANA, PLPA are all good places to start.

Most pet crematories, which are well reputable and/or are accredited, will have at least one Certified Pet Crematory Operator on staff.   If you are currently working at a pet crematory and would like to get your certification, let your boss know that this is a goal you have and how important not only to you but to the growth of the company. Any good business should gladly assist in getting you started in a crematory operator program and hopefully have the means to financially support you in this endeavor.

What does a Pet Crematory Operator learn? I assure you it’s not just about the “how tos” but covers everything from technical, legal, ethics and proper procedures and protocol.

“The course is taught using video with small group activities, case studies, videos, whole class discussions and lecture.” — Excerpt from IAOPCC/CANA Program Description

Last year, 2019, I offered the program to both our Head Facility Manager, Jennifer Camsuzou and Head of Crematory Operations, Erika Ricketts.   Each of them pleasantly surprised at all that they learned, even with 1-3 years experience as a trained on site operator.  When Erika was asked what her big take away was from the certification course:

Erika replied: “The information breakdown on how the ovens function”

Pet Bereavement Counselor 101

Another needed and equally important position is one of a Grief Counselor. Now many of you many have heard of Grief Counselors for anyone going through the loss of a loved one—family member, child, spouse. But what about a pet, animal companion, fur-baby?   For many people, pets are their family. Whether you are an empty nesters with a fur baby, a child who grew up with a family pet or anywhere in between pets are important to us. The grief we can experience with losing a BFF (best furry friend) can many times be more devastating than losing a human family member. So why shouldn’t we have help to get us through the grief?

In the more recent decade with the boom in the pet industry has come an increase in all things relating to pets—healthcare, nutrition, products, pet professionals and yes….pet grief counselors!   In San Luis Obispo County, the SLO Hospice has seen such an increase in their monthly Pet Grief Support Group that they have now added another group meeting in Paso Robles.

More than someone to talk to

I cannot stress enough how important it is to find a well-trained facilitator for grief counseling. In my experience through the years most people, after losing a pet, just need someone to talk to, be heard and know they aren’t alone.   I have had many hour-long conversations with clients where we have laughed, cried and hugged just sharing our pet experiences.  But sometimes there is someone who needs more in depth counseling.

A Pet Grief Counselor is a very nice career choice, which requires a very sensitive and well-trained individual. Currently there are online courses you can take i.e. through Course Pride and other online source. Beyond that there are groups to received training through volunteer services like hospice organizations. But to further your education deeper into more extreme psychology you of course will need education from a four-year university and beyond.

If you are someone within the pet care and/or pet aftercare industry seeking to add to your resume, then online certifications are a great place to start. The IAOPCC is releasing soon another online course, which will cater to this side of the business.  Recently, myself and one of my long time employees of Eden Memorial went through an online certification while we are waiting for the IAOPCC organization to announce their new course.   Although with 20 years experience between Laurie Abshire and I, we both still learned a lot; including skills to understand different types of grief.

Laurie says: “The course gave me the tools to help people through the grieving process by being a good listener, helping them with the decision to euthanize and in some cases PTSD.”

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So as in any career, furthering your knowledge and expanding your education is always a good step forward. The difficulty in the Pet Aftercare industry is finding the resources to do so. As this industry grows so will the opportunities but for now you research through the pet aftercare associations and supplement where you can with courses through online. There courses from anything on social media marketing and business development. And more specifically geared toward pet care: Animal Chaplain/Ministry, Bereavement Counseling, Crematory/Cemetery Operations, Funeral Home Management.

Whatever you are interested – there is something for everyone.

We are always here for you…until next time.

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About the Author:  Owner of Eden Memorial Pet Care

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