How To Get Started
There are two main paths that you can take to get started as a pet sitter. First, you can use an established online service to reach potential clients, or you can strike out on your own and find them yourself. There are pluses and minuses to both options.
Online platforms such as Care.com and Rover.com
are some of the most popular. The benefit is that potential customers will easily find you. In addition, these sites verify your identity, credentials and perform a background check so clients know you’re reliable and safe. The downside is that they charge fees.
If you want to start on your own, you might have to put in more work upfront and potentially jump through more hoops to get hired. However, you have the opportunity to keep all of your earnings. You can also set your standards and policies rather than follow those of the company you contract through.
Training and Certifications
There aren’t any official requirements for becoming a pet sitter. That being said, there are some things that you can do to make this path easier and make yourself more appealing to potential clients.
One of the most basic is having experience with pets. Being a pet owner is one of the essential qualifications. Other pet mamas and dads like to know that whoever they leave their pet with understands that bond.
Especially if you don’t have pets of your own, you might want to complete a nationally recognized training course in pet sitting. Two organizations offer these: the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters
and Pet Sitters International
(great if you have dreams of moving your business abroad!).
In addition, if you’re working on your own, you should have a background check conducted and readily available upon request.
Finally, try to get letters of recommendation and references. Start sitting for families you know (friends, neighbors, family) and ask them to vouch for you. While most veterinarians won’t recommend pet sitters directly, you can ask them for a letter verifying that you stay on top of your own pet’s shots, medical care, and needs.
As with many fields, you get out what you put in. If you want to throw yourself into pet sitting full time, you can make a decent living. While you won’t get rich, you have the added benefit of working for yourself.
When you start, you may want to price on the lower side. Check out what other pet sitters in your area charge and match the low end of that. Typically that should range around $10-$15 per hour. Raise your prices as you make a name for yourself and consider charging per service rather than hourly. Don’t sell yourself short!