Exam Specifications / Topical Blueprint
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1. Administration

  • Organizational Governance and Management
    1. Administration and management principles, practices, and procedures (e.g., planning, organizing, staffing, directing, controlling, managing risk).
    2. Developing and managing relationships with the governing body (e.g., animal control commission, nonprofit board of directors).
    3. Effective governance policy and practice.
    4. Establishing and maintaining appropriate roles, responsibilities, and relationships of staff, volunteers & governing body.
    5. Organizational policy development and evaluation.
    6. Contract negotiation techniques and principles.
  • Analysis and Planning
    1. Strategic planning techniques and principles.
    2. Project management techniques and principles, including time management and prioritization.
    3. Evaluating and monitoring the performance of the organization.
    4. Planning, implementing, and evaluating programs.
    5. Forecasting trends and future needs.
    6. Basic statistical concepts and methods.
    7. Analyzing and interpreting data.
  • Financial Management
    1. Economic and accounting principles, practices, and procedures.
    2. Preparing and monitoring budgets.
    3. Sound organizational and financial policies and procedures for nonprofit and governmental organizations.
    4. Understanding special tax status ramifications for nonprofit organizations.
    5. Managing financial resources (e.g., investments, financial reporting, non-cash assets, capital financing).

2. Human Resources Management

  1. Human resource principles and practices (e.g., recruitment, selection, training, employee evaluation, compensation and benefits, labor relations and negotiation, HR information systems, employment law).
  2. Principles and techniques to develop staff and volunteers (e.g., motivating, building morale, mentoring, directing, educating, counseling).
  3. Training and coaching others using formal and informal methods.
  4. Evaluating employee and volunteer performance and providing feedback.
  5. Collecting, interpreting and acting upon feedback from employees and volunteers.
  6. Occupational hazards and appropriate safety practices for animal services operations.
  7. Federal, state, local, and other applicable safety requirements and codes.
  8. Supervisory principles, practices, and procedures.
  9. Principles of effective delegation.
  10. Planning, coordinating, and scheduling work flow.
  11. Principles, practices, and issues related to managing volunteers for the organization.

3. Leadership

  1. Promoting cooperation within and between departments.
  2. Resolving conflicts or disagreements.
  3. Ways to build consensus.
  4. Principles of persuasion.
  5. Demonstrating commitment to the mission and objectives of the organization.
  6. Serving ethically, with honesty and integrity.
  7. Working collaboratively with individuals and organizations.

4. Communications, Advocacy, and Development

  1. Principles and methods for promoting the organization’s values, services and programs.
  2. Fund development methods, principles, and practices.
  3. Customer service policies and techniques.
  4. Internal and external communication methods, procedures, and objectives.
  5. Constructive interaction with the public, media, and other stakeholders, including understanding their motivations.
  6. Establishing and maintaining communications with key internal and external stakeholders.
  7. Understanding the community and the agency’s role within the community.
  8. Developing and implementing effective crisis communication strategies.
  9. Preparing reports to communicate organizational performance (e.g., statistical, financial, annual).
  10. Developing and delivering effective presentations.
  11. Effective group facilitation techniques.
  12. Communicating effectively in writing
  13. Explaining complex issues in a way that can be understood by the audience.
  14. Recognizing and effectively using evolving technology (e.g., social media)
  15. Communicating and advocating for your organization’s mission and animal welfare.
  16. Effectively managing and understanding government relations, including lobbying and advocacy.

5. Animal Management

  • Animal Husbandry and Sheltering
    1. Basic animal husbandry and humane treatment principles and practices.
    2. Issues related to shelter facility design.
    3. Principles and practices for animal shelter management and operations, including flow of animals.
    4. Sanitation and animal health care principles and practices, including disease recognition, treatment, and prevention.
    5. Basic animal behavior as it relates to shelter management, stress reduction and animal outcomes.
    6. Animal euthanasia principles, practices and procedures.
  • Programs and Policy
    1. Principles and practices for community animal welfare programs (e.g., spay/neuter, Trap-Neuter-Return [TNR], humane education).
    2. Emerging animal welfare issues and research (e.g., industry publications, veterinary and other research).
    3. Federal, state, and local laws covering animal care and control.
  • Field Services and Public Health
    1. Principles and practices for field services, law enforcement activities, and disaster preparedness and response.
    2. Zoonotic diseases and their ramifications for the health and well-being of animals, staff, volunteers, and the public.


  • 15508 W. Bell Rd

  • Suite 101-613, Surprise, AZ 85374

  • Phone: (888) 600-3648

  • Fax: (866) 299-1311

  • admin@theaawa.org