Guide Dog Foundation

About Us

Apprentice Position Frequently Asked Questions

What is a guide dog training "apprentice?"
What is the apprentice program like?
Who oversees the apprentice program?
Is this a "9 to 5" position?
Do you need a specific background, education, or degree to become an apprentice?
Are there other, special skills that apprentices can or should have?
What does the term "cross training" mean?

What is a guide dog training "apprentice?"

At the Guide Dog Foundation, an apprentice is a full-time, paid position. To become an apprentice, one must apply just as one would apply for any job. Team members who join the staff as apprentices work their way toward becoming a trainer, and then a certified instructor. Members of the training staff work not only with the dogs, but also with our blind and visually impaired consumers.

What is the apprentice program like?

Apprentices gain practical experience by working closely with a senior qualified staff member. During their apprenticeship, they are evaluated while working with the dogs and with our blind students. They have required reading - on subjects ranging from dog breeding to causes of blindness - and must pass written and oral tests to reach the "trainer" level.

Who oversees the apprentice program?

Applicants contact Loretta Quis, Director of Administrative Services. If hired by the Foundation, apprentices report to the Chief Training Officer and the Director of Training.

Is this a "9 to 5" position?

No. This position has a hectic schedule and requires overtime. Apprentices often work weekends and evenings, especially when class is in session.

Do you need a specific background, education, or degree to become an apprentice?

You do not have to be a professional dog trainer to become an apprentice in our program. Ideal candidates have a blend of two talents—the ability to work with dogs, and the ability to work with people who are blind or visually impaired. Both talents are integral to one's success in our program. Having "people skills," especially sensitivity to others with special needs and the desire to help others, is essential. And, of course, apprentices must love to work with dogs!

Are there other, special skills that apprentices can or should have?

It is beneficial for apprentices to be fluent in another language, but that is not a requirement. Knowing a second language, such as Spanish or French, comes into play when we have students from other countries who aren't strong in English.

What does the term "cross training" mean?

Cross training at the Foundation refers to apprentices learning about all of the other aspects of the Guide Dog Foundation prior to starting their assignments with the training department. Once accepted into our program, apprentices spend some time working with the kennel and puppy staffs. They learn first-hand about our procedures in the puppy nursery and in the kennel, and they spend time getting to know Puppy Walkers and how the puppies are raised.

After the apprentice has learned about all of the different aspects of the Foundation, he or she is matched with a qualified training staff member and begins to learn how a dog becomes a guide.