How to Become a Dog/Pet Groomer

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

This is a rewarding, dynamic and profitable career path!

But that’s not all…

Starting your career can be simple compared to most career which is a nice bonus as well.

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

Let’s dive in.


Job Description: What Does a Pet Groomer Do?

A dog groomer is someone who will help a dog’s appearance look the best that it can look.

They work in a variety of places, such as:

  • Kennels
  • Pet shops
  • Veterinary clinics
  • Mobile units

They also educate owners about how to care for the coats of their dogs and other pets.

Duties

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

But they do much more than that.

The duties of a dog groomer are to:

  • Maintain the physical appearance of dogs
  • Brush and cut fur
  • Clip nails
  • Clean ears
  • Bathe the dog
  • 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?

The amount that a dog groomer will make depends on a variety of factors.

However, the average salary of a dog groomer is $30,053.

The amount that a dog groomer will be paid is based on factors such as:

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

A groomer who is getting dogs ready for a dog show is going to make more than one who is caring for dogs at a shelter.

Average National Salary: $30,054

$25K
10%
$28K
25%
$30K
50%
$37K
75%
$42K
90%
*Salary information last updated 2018

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 that they will look for when you are seeking an apprenticeship or formal training on dog grooming.

Step 2 Become Familiar with the Job

One thing you want to know is that dog groomers aren’t just there to brush dogs that are happy and healthy.

This job is very physical, challenging and dirty.

Not only will you be working with dogs that are taken care of and healthy, but you’re also going to be dealing with dogs that have skin conditions and matted fur.

So you want to be aware of this so that you know what you may get into as a dog groomer.

Step 3 Try Grooming a Dog

Chances are that you have a friend or family member that has a dog.

One of the best ways that you can get some experience is to actually groom a dog.

You will get a small taste of what it will be like if you become a dog groomer.

Grooming means more than brushing, so see if you can give your friend or family member’s dog a bath.

Keep in mind that grooming a dog that you know and that knows you is going to be a lot different than grooming a dog that you don’t know.

Even though it’s only going to give you a taste of what being a groomer will be like, it will help you get a good idea.

Step 4 Go to a Shelter and Volunteer

One thing that shelter animals really need is someone to take care of them, not only as an owner but as someone who sees to their basic needs.

This means doing things like giving them a bath and brushing them, since a lot of shelter animals have come from a rough life or were strays.

The benefits of going to a shelter are:

  • You get some experience with different breeds of dogs
  • You can get advice on dealing with large, sick or aggressive dogs
  • You can help with bathing and grooming dogs
  • You’ll have a better idea of whether or not this line of work is for you

Step 5 Assist a Groomer

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

The larger pet stores often offer services for grooming people’s pets and they were regular they Regular the employee bathers and grooming assistants.

When you do this job, you’re going to be doing the bathing work and the groomer who is trained will do the trimming, cutting, and fine cleaning.

It’s not glamorous and it’s not lucrative, but these kinds of stores often choose assistants that are promising for the training programs so that they become groomers eventually.

You also can look for a groomer and ask if they can mentor you.

A good way to get started is to volunteer or to just observe them when they are working.

Step 6 Consider Attending School

Even though there aren’t any licensing or schooling requirements to groom animals, there are advantages of having formal training.

If you have formal training,  you may discover that there are many more opportunities out there for you.

If you don’t live in an area that has a local animal grooming program, you can find many online programs where you can get your training.

The disadvantage of these programs is that they don’t have any hands-on training, so you may be wasting your money and your time.

If you’re serious about becoming a dog groomer, a program that has anywhere from 400 to 650 program hours, which includes hands-on, is a good bet.

The program should have at least one teacher that’s been certified by an organization that’s nationally recognized.

The program you choose should have  a good ratio of student to teachers, hands-off to hands-on and student to dog for practice grooming sessions each day.

Step 7 Learn the Typical Styles and Cuts for Unique and Standard Breeds

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

In the United States the main organization that will decide the standards for the breeds of dogs and their typical grooming profiles is the AKC.

However, grooming profiles often change, so you want to make sure you’re up-to-date on the latest standards.

Creative styling is often requested by people who own dogs such as labradoodles or other designer dogs,

That being said, you also want to study the accepted profiles for the common hybrids, too.

Step 8 Learn how to Spot Trouble Signs

Even the dog groomer isn’t a veterinarian, regular grooming will benefit a dog’s health.

That’s why it’s essential for a groomer to show some concern for dog’s well-being overall.

Below are some things to look for in a dog:

  • Signs of illness or injury such as cuts, swelling, thrush (Yeast infection in an orifice such as a dog’s mouth), and parasites like ticks.
  • Changes in activity level or temperament in a dog, which can mean that they are ill or injured
  • Indications of abuse or mistreatment – Even though the owner is paying the bill, you don’t want to ignore the well-being of your customer.
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Education Needed to Become a Dog/Pet Groomer

There isn’t a standard option for formal education when it comes to a dog groomer. Most groomers have graduated from high school or have their GED.

Rather than going to school, the majority of groomers  participate in an apprenticeship that last year with the groomer who has been doing it for many years.

As a new groomer, you’re taught the following:

  • The way to handle pets safely
  • Brushing, trimming, bathing, and styling animal coats
  • Clipping nails
  • Providing other types of maintenance services

Experience that’s gained when you enter an apprenticeship will help you get employment at the entry level once you’ve completed your apprenticeship.

If you would like to go to school to get training to become a dog groomer, you’ll find 50 grooming schools approved by the state which offer different programs which last anywhere from two weeks to a few months.

However, the majority of employees are going to base their decisions on whether they hire you based on your experience rather than any formal education you have.

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Certification & Licensing Needed to Become a Dog/Pet Groomer

Animal groomers don’t have any licensing requirements.

You can get a voluntary certification from the NDGAA which will demonstrate proficiency in maintenance, animal safety and dog grooming.

This certification from the NDGAA is available both to non-members and members.

To receive this notification, a groomer must do the following:

  • Attend a workshop for training
  • Demonstrate grooming skills that are practical
  • Take and pass 2 exams

When you’re demonstrating your grooming skills, you have to bring grooming supplies and a dog to a grooming center that’s designated by the NDGAA.

Information for taking the test and study materials are provided by the organization.

Average Training Program Duration: 0-6 Months

If you apprentice with a groomer, the apprenticeship usually lasts 6 to 10 weeks.

If you get formal training, this can last anywhere from 2 weeks to a few months.


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Job Outlook and Growth for Dog/Pet Groomer

When it comes to animal care, it’s expected that it will grow 22% between now and 2026.

A lot of people think of their pets as members of their families, And they often pay a lot of money to take care of their pets.

Since a lot of houses include service animals and companion animals, and more households have more than one adult working in them, the need for animal care has increased.

This includes the need for pet groomers and dog groomers.

Overall, the job prospects look good.

Most job openings are going to result from people retiring from the occupation and the need to replace them.

Employment Growth Projection: 22%

296,400
2016
361,000
2026

That's a higher than average projected growth of 64,600: Interest Over Time


Should You Become a Dog/Pet Groomer?

Overall Satisfaction

Overall Satisfaction: High

Since most people who become a dog groomer love animals, they love their job.

The average amount that someone makes per hour at this job is $11.18.

People who are dog groomers love working with the animals and love doing their jobs.

Average Salary

Average Salary: Medium

The average salary for a dog groomer is $11.18 per hour and an average annual salary of $30,052.

This amount can vary depending on a few factors.

These factors are:

  • Experience of the dog groomer
  • Where they are working
  • The dog groomers skills
  • The state in which they are working

Job Growth Outlook

Job Growth Outlook: High

The job outlook for a dog groomer is good.

Between now and 2026, it’s expected that the dog grooming employment will grow 19%.

This is because many people are becoming dog owners, and they want to treat their dogs like a member of their family.

As people are retiring from the dog Grooming profession, more people will need to take their places.

Education Duration

Education Duration: 0-6 Months

Someone who wants to go into dog grooming Should be a high school graduate or have their GED.

After that, they often will apprentice with a dog groomer and stay in their apprenticeship for 6 to 10 weeks.

Another option is to go to specialized training for dog grooming, and this can last anywhere from two weeks to a few months.

However, when it comes to employment most employers want to have experience over formal training.

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.

These skills are:

  • Being able to handle a dog gently but firmly
  • Being able to control and calm a nervous dog
  • Being detail oriented
  • Having a lot of patience
  • The ability to communicate well with dog owners
  • Providing great customer service both to dogs and to their owners

To be a dog groomer, you have to both be a people person and a dog lover.


Frequently Asked Questions

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

If you want to become a dog groomer, there really is no formal requirements for education, but it’s important to be at least a high school graduate.

The majority of groomers choose to become an apprentice with another groomer so that they can learn what’s involved with grooming.

Most apprentice programs last between 6 to 10 weeks.

Although there are dog grooming schools that you can go to, most of the employers are going to be more interested in your experience rather than the training that you have gotten.

Q. How much do dog groomers make?

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

However, this price can go up or down depending on several factors.

These factors are:

  • Experience
  • Where you are working
  • What type of grooming you’re doing
  • The area where you’re employed, since some states have a higher pay rate

When you are grooming animals for pet shows, chances are that you’ll make more than when you are grooming dogs in a kennel.

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

Even though a dog grooming certificate isn’t necessary, many people decide to get their dog grooming certificate to give them more opportunities.

Below are some of the things that you can do with a dog grooming certificate:

  • Work in a pet store as a dog groomer
  • Open your own dog grooming business
  • Get more clients
  • Groom dogs anywhere
  • Learn how to do special cuts on dogs
  • Work in shelters is a dog groomer

It’s important to note that the same things that you can do with a dog grooming certificate can be done without a dog grooming certificate.

In fact, a lot of people would rather hire someone who has the experience and worked as an apprentice rather than spending their time in school.

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

The duties of a dog groomer are the following:

  • Maintain the physical appearance of dogs
  • Brush a dog’s fur
  • Cut the dogs 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 fur

Q. Where do dog groomers usually work?

If you want to become a dog groomer, you’re going to find many places that you can work.

There are many different places that dog groomers work.

Some of the common places for your find a dog groomer are:

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

Basically, anywhere that you can find a dog will be able to find a dog groomer.


USA How to Become a Dog/Pet Groomer by State


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