Professional pet sitting organizations and certifications.

Professional Organizations and Certifications for Pet Sitters and Dog Walkers

What is a Professional Organization?

Professional organizations represent a particular field or profession and serve a number of functions regarding that profession, including:

  • Furthering the interests of the profession.
  • Providing legitimacy to the profession and its members.
  • Disseminating information about the profession to the public.
  • Providing business and professional resources for members.
  • Promoting and providing education and professional development for members.
  • Providing knowledge or skill-based certifications for members.
  • Defining standards of conduct for members.

What Professional Organizations for Pet Sitters and Dog Walkers Exist?

There are two major professional pet sitting organizations for owners of pet sitting and dog walking businesses: Pet Sitters International (PSI) and The National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS). Both organizations offer similar resources and tools, and they both cost about the same amount to join.

Overview of Pet Sitters International (PSI)

Pet Sitter’s International was founded in 1994 and reports that it has almost 7,000 members. It costs $140 per year for members in the U.S. and $125 per year for members in Canada. To become a member of PSI you must provide pet sitting in clients’ homes or dog walking services. Businesses or individuals who only provide boarding or pet daycare in their own homes are not eligible to join PSI.

PSI organizes an annual conference, The Pet Sitter World Educational Conference & Expo, which features speakers representing various aspects of pets and pet sitting.

PSI offers the following benefits to its members:

  • Business/website listing on PSI’s pet sitter location tool.
  • Allowed to use PSI member logo on your business website or other marketing materials.
  • Subscription to PSI’s publication, Pet Sitter’s World.
  • Subscription to PSI’s member newsletter, Your Weekly Scoop.
  • Various downloadable forms and other materials you can customize for your business.
  • Access to online courses, ebooks, and webinars related to the pet sitting industry.
  • Discounted rates on bonding, liability, and health insurance through NAPPS’ insurance partner.

PSI also offers a certification called the Certified Professional Pet Sitter (CPPS). You have to be a member of PSI to pursue the CPPS. To earn a CPPS members must pass the CPPS Exam by getting a score of 80% or higher and agree to follow PSI’s Recommended Quality Standards and their Member Code of Conduct and Ethics. To maintain an active certification, members must obtain at least 30 continuing education hours every three years. The application fee for the exam is $275.

Active CPPS holders are allowed to use the CPPS logo on their website and on other marketing materials. Additionally, CPPS holders in the U.S. get a 15% discount on pet-sitter liability insurance through PSI’s insurance partner. Additionally, having a certification gives you a 10% discount to PSI’s annual conference.

Overview of The National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS)

The National Association of Professional Pet Sitters is the only non-profit professional pet sitting association in the US. It was established in 1993 and reports that they have around 2,200 members. It costs $135 per year to become a member. They also have memberships for pet professionals that aren’t in the pet sitting business, such as vets, groomers, boarders, and dog trainers. You also have to agree to abide by their Pledge of Professional Conduct.

NAPPS organizes an annual conference, the Education and Networking Forum, which features presentations by people in the pet care industry.

NAPPS offers the following benefits to its members:

  • Business/website listing on the NAPPS Referral Network.
  • Allowed to use NAPPS member logo on your business website or other marketing materials.
  • Subscription to NAPPS’s publication, The Professional Pet Sitter.
  • Various downloadable forms and other materials you can customize for your business.
  • Access to an online library, courses, and webinars related to the pet sitting industry.
  • Discounted rates on bonding, liability, and health insurance through NAPPS’ insurance partner.

NAPPS also offers a professional certification designated as “NAPPS Certified.” To earn this certification, you have to pass the certification exam with a score of 75% or higher. To maintain an active certification, you must must obtain at least 30 continuing education hours every three years and pay $75. The application fee for the exam is $245.

An active NAPPS certification provides an additional 15% discount on pet-sitter liability insurance through NAPPS’ insurance partner. Also, you are allowed to then use the NAPPS Certified logo on your website and other marketing materials.

Should I Join Pet Sitter’s International (PSI) or The National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS)?

If you’re joining either organization primarily to get your business listed on their pet sitter directory, your money is probably better spent on marketing your pet business in other ways. Some people have reported that they’ve gotten a lot of business through those directories. However, personally, we’ve only received a few inquiries through these directories over the course of years. Also, we’ve never interacted with any other pet sitting professional who has received significant traffic via these pet sitter directories.

It’s doubtful that many potential clients are even aware of either organization, and its unlikely that many people are visiting the PSI or NAPPS websites to find their pet sitter or dog walker. Most people find businesses using search engines or other localized directories, not by visiting professional organization websites.

Most people find business through Google and other search engines.

Potential clients are far more likely to find you using a search engine than through the PSI or NAPPS websites.

People just starting a pet care business might get more out of these organizations than experienced business owners. If you’re just starting out, the various online resources they provide might provide some useful information and help you get started more quickly.

Also, if you like to network, being a member of these organizations can provide avenues for interacting with, and learning from, other professionals in the pet sitting industry. These types of relationships and connections can be fulfilling, educational, and even profitable.

One of the most tangible benefits is probably being able to display your professional membership or certification on your website and other materials. Even if people are not aware of PSI or NAPPS, customers and clients like to see that a business is certified in some manner. It automatically lends an air of professionalism and credibility.

Our own client marketing research repeatedly shows that clients find professional memberships and certifications to be very important to them. (Our most recent marketing poll measured its average importance as 4.46 out of 5). This, in itself, could make the cost of membership worth the price. However, it’s difficult to measure the actual benefit.

At the end of the day, you need to look at all the features and benefits these organizations provide, and determine for yourself whether or not it’s worth it for you and your business. Many successful pet businesses aren’t members of either, and many fly-by-night pet businesses were members. Membership or certification probably isn’t going to make or break your business either way. Like all business decisions, do your research and make an informed decision.

There probably isn’t much advantage in joining both. They offer very similar features and benefits, and cost almost the same, so neither is clearly better than the other. If you do decide to join one, research both thoroughly, and pick which one you feel suits your business better.

Share this Article!
Posted in Professional Pet Business Resources.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *