How to Become a Dog/Pet Groomer

Thinking about becoming a dog groomer, or a pet groomer in general?

Then good news!

This is a rewarding, dynamic, and profitable career path.

But that’s not all.

Becoming a dog groomer is simpler compared to most careers.

Keep reading this guide to get all the information you’ll need.

Let’s dive in.


What Does a Dog Groomer Do?

a dog that's been dressed to impress

A dog groomer is someone who helps make the dogs as attractive as they can be.

They work in a variety of places, such as:

  • Kennels
  • Pet shops
  • Veterinary clinics
  • Mobile units

They also educate owners on how to care for their pets’ coats properly.

Duties

A lot of people think that a dog groomer just makes a dog look good.

But they do more than that.

They are to:

  • Maintain the dog’s physical appearance
  • Brush and cut fur
  • Clip nails
  • Clean ears
  • Bathe
  • Dry the fur and style it
  • Sanitize shears and combs
  • Schedule appointments
  • Report assessments or issues to owners

How Much Does a Dog Groomer Make?

A dog groomer’s income will depend on several factors.

These are:

  • The groomer’s experience
  • What kind of grooming they are doing
  • Their state of residence
  • Where they are working

For instance, a groomer who styles dogs for dog shows makes more than a groomer in an animal shelter.

But usually, a dog groomer can make an average of $30,053 per year.

Average National Salary: $30,054

$25K
10%
$28K
25%
$30K
50%
$37K
75%
$42K
90%
*Salary information last updated 2022

Average Annual Salary by State

State Avg. Annual Salary
Alabama $31,642
Alaska $37,851
Arizona $33,327
Arkansas $31,259
California $38,038
Colorado $34,013
Connecticut $36,996
Delaware $35,927
Florida $32,783
Georgia $33,125
Hawaii $34,830
Idaho $31,911
Illinois $35,827
Indiana $32,701
Iowa $32,321
Kansas $33,059
Kentucky $31,716
Louisiana $33,389
Maine $34,440
Maryland $37,410
Massachusetts $38,258
Michigan $35,303
Minnesota $35,819
Mississippi $31,660
Missouri $33,059
Montana $33,095
Nebraska $32,674
Nevada $34,978
New Hampshire $36,458
New Jersey $40,696
New Mexico $31,783
New York $40,696
North Carolina $33,229
North Dakota $31,420
Ohio $33,465
Oklahoma $33,139
Oregon $35,153
Pennsylvania $38,192
Rhode Island $36,099
South Carolina $33,105
South Dakota $30,916
Tennessee $31,817
Texas $34,474
Utah $34,474
Vermont $35,018
Virginia $37,410
Washington $36,907
West Virginia $34,921
Wisconsin $35,517
Wyoming $31,705

Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming a Dog/Pet Groomer

Step 1 Get Your High School Diploma or GED

Before you become a dog groomer, you will need your high school diploma or your GED.

This is something employers will look for when you are seeking either:

  • An apprenticeship
  • Formal training on dog grooming

Step 2 Familiarize Yourself with the Job

You should know that dog groomers aren’t just there to brush dogs’ fur.

This job is very physical, challenging, and dirty.

It’s not always that you will be working with healthy, well-taken care of dogs.

You’ll also be dealing with ones that have skin conditions and matted fur.

Step 3 Try Grooming a Dog

Chances are, you have a friend or family member who has a pet dog.

You can ask them if you can groom their dog to gain some experience.

This allows you to get a small taste of what it will be like to work as a dog groomer.

But keep this in mind:

Grooming a dog that knows you is a lot different than grooming one that doesn’t.

So it’s best if you try to groom other dogs that are unfamiliar with you as well.

This way, you’ll be able to learn how to handle grooming dogs with different personalities.

Step 4 Volunteer at a Shelter

a puppy in need of tender loving care

Shelter animals had a rough life.

So the one thing they really need is someone to take care of them.

Someone who sees to their basic needs.

By volunteering here, not only will you be able to give them affection but you can also gain some benefits.

You can:

  • Get some experience with different breeds of dogs
  • Receive advice on dealing with large, sick, or aggressive dogs
  • Help with bathing and grooming dogs
  • Have a better idea of whether this line of work is for you

Step 5 Become a Groomer’s Assistant

When you assist another groomer, you’ll get hands-on experience about what it’s like to be a groomer.

You can try applying at pet stores as they are regularly in need of grooming assistants.

These stores, however, often hire assistants who’ll eventually enroll in training programs in the future.

As an assistant, you’ll mostly do the bathing work.

The trimming, cutting, and fine cleaning will be left for the store’s groomer.

But you can observe them to learn the know-hows, especially proper techniques in dog grooming.

Or if you know a dog groomer, you can directly ask them if they can mentor you.

Step 6 Attend a Dog Grooming School

Enrolling in a formal training program has its advantages career-wise.

So if you seriously want to become a dog groomer, a program with 400 to 650 hours is a good bet.

Not only is the program accredited, but you can learn hands-on grooming sessions in class.

On the other hand, if your locality has no program available, you can enroll online.

But note that you may not have hands-on training there.

So it may not be worth it.

Step 7 Learn Styles and Trims Suitable for Different Breeds

This is going to be a big part of the training program.

You will learn the different styles suitable for each dog breed.

Some basic styles and trims are:

  • Kennel cut
  • Teddy bear trim
  • Show groom
  • Full coat
  • Exotic

The American Kennel Club (AKC) has created a standard for the grooming profiles of different dog breeds.

These profiles often change, so make sure to stay up-to-date on their latest standards.

Despite that, owners are still the ones who make the ultimate stylistic decision.

Step 8 Learn How to Spot Warning Signs

A dog groomer is usually the first person to spot things when something is wrong with a dog’s well-being.

Below are some things to watch out for:

  • Signs of illness or injury such as cuts, swelling, thrush
  • Itching due to parasites like ticks
  • Changes in activity level or temperament
  • Indications of abuse or mistreatment
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Education Needed to Become a Dog/Pet Groomer

There isn’t a standard formal education when it comes to becoming a dog groomer.

Instead, you can do an apprenticeship with an experienced groomer.

This usually lasts up to 10 weeks.

As a new groomer, you’re taught how to:

  • Handle pets safely
  • Do basic pet hygiene
  • Provide other types of maintenance services

The experience you gain as an apprentice will help you get employment at the entry level.

And if you’d like to go to school, there are 50 state-approved pet grooming schools you can enroll in.

Each of them offers different programs that last from two weeks up to a few months.

Among them, the AKC is widely recognized as a trusted expert in groomer education.

Their groomer education program offers a continuing education opportunity for you.

This way, you can stay updated on the best practices for pet care, health, and safety.

However, many employers will hire based on your experience, not your education.

So if you do decide not to pursue any formal training, then that’s okay too.

Here’s a video to give you insights into this profession.

Video About The Career


Certification and Licensing

Animal groomers don’t have any licensing requirements.

You can get a voluntary certification from the National Dog Groomers Association of America.

Having this will exhibit your proficiency in:

  • Maintenance
  • Animal safety
  • Grooming

To earn it, you must:

  • Attend a training workshop
  • Demonstrate practical grooming skills
  • Take and pass two exams

The organization will provide the study materials and test information.

Average Training Program Duration: 0-6 Months

If you apprentice with a groomer, the apprenticeship usually lasts six to 10 weeks.

If you get formal training, this can last anywhere from two weeks to six months.


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Job Outlook and Growth for Dog/Pet Groomers

Per the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, animal care is expected to grow up to 34% by 2030.

The reason mainly stems from pet owners willing to pay a lot of money to take care of their pets.

Also, because of the number of households living with service/companion animals, the need for animal care has increased.

As a result, it greatly affected the dog/pet grooming business.

Another factor is the number of retirees over the next couple of years.

And so, many employers will look for new hires to take over and help out in their stores.

Overall, the job prospects look good.

So you won’t have to worry about unemployment any time soon.

Employment Growth Projection: 34%

272,400
2020
366,100
2030

That's a higher than average projected growth of 93,700: Interest Over Time


Should You Become a Dog/Pet Groomer?

Overall Satisfaction

Overall Satisfaction: High

People who love their job are very much satisfied with their careers as dog groomers.

Seeing how good the dog/pet looks after grooming will make any groomer proud.

Average Salary

Average Salary: Medium

The average annual salary for a dog groomer is $30,053.

That’s roughly an average of $11.18 per hour.

But this number can still vary depending on:

  • Your experience as a dog groomer
  • The skills you acquired
  • The state where you are working

Job Growth Outlook

Job Growth Outlook: High

The job outlook for a dog groomer is particularly good, with a 34% growth rate by 2030.

With the way people treat their dogs as family members, they want to provide the best animal care for them

As a result, there’s going to be a high demand for dog/pet groomers in the years to come.

Education Duration

Education Duration: 0-6 Months

Many employers only look at your skills and experience over formal training.

But you can’t deny the advantages training can afford you.

An apprenticeship will last six to 10 weeks.

Meanwhile, enrolling in a program will go from two weeks up to six months.

Personal Skills Needed

Personal Skills Needed

Not everyone can become a dog groomer.

There are a certain set of skills that you need to get into this field.

  • Ability to handle and control a dog well
  • Detail-oriented
  • Patient
  • Good communication skills
  • Great customer service skills


Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How long does it take to become a dog groomer?

If you’re going for an apprenticeship, it can take six to 10 weeks.

If you’re going for a training program, up to six months.

Q. How much do dog groomers make?

Dog groomers can earn $30,053 per year on average.

But you can earn more when you groom dogs/pets for pet shows compared to others.

Q. What can you do with a dog grooming certificate?

A dog grooming certificate creates more career opportunities.

You can:

  • Open your own dog grooming business
  • Get more clients
  • Groom dogs anywhere/freelance
  • Learn how to do special styles and trims

It’s important to note that you can do the same things even without a certificate.

In fact, a lot of employers prefer hiring someone with experience and doing an apprenticeship.

Q. What does a dog groomer do on a daily basis?

A dog groomer usually:

  • Maintain the physical appearance of dogs
  • Brush and cut a dog’s fur
  • Clip their nails
  • Clean their ears
  • Bathe them
  • Style their fur
  • Sanitize equipment, such as shears and combs
  • Schedule appointments with clients
  • Check dogs for ticks and other problems
  • Report assessment and issues to pet owners
  • Educate pet owners about proper care of their pets’ coats

Q. Where do dog groomers usually work?

Some of the common places a dog groomer works are:

  • Pet stores
  • Veterinary clinics
  • Kennels
  • Shelters
  • Grooming salons
  • Dog shows
  • Mobile units
  • Pet owners’ homes

Anywhere a dog is, a dog groomer is always present.


USA How to Become a Dog/Pet Groomer by State


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