From Fluffy to Fabulous: How to Become a Dog Groomer

Dog wearing a robe and sunglasses, holding a drink
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Have you ever dreamed of having a career where you can spend your day with some of the most adorable creatures? If you’re an animal lover, becoming a certified pet groomer could be your perfect career path.

With a combination of technical knowledge and an understanding of canine behavior, becoming a pet groomer lets you help make our furry friends look and feel their best.

In this blog post, I’ll walk you through the steps to transform your passion into profit by becoming a dog groomer.

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Dog wearing a robe and sunglasses

Benefits of Being a Dog Groomer

Being a dog groomer offers the opportunity to work closely with dogs, express creativity through grooming styles, and enjoy a flexible career with strong job demands.

The profession provides job satisfaction and fulfillment in improving dogs’ appearance and well-being while building rewarding relationships with both dogs and their owners.

Dog groomers can also benefit from continuous learning, a supportive community, and the potential for a competitive salary, especially if they operate their own businesses.

How Much Do Dog Groomers Make?

According to Glassdoor, the average yearly income for dog groomers in the U.S. is approximately $51,092 annually. 

However, the pay can vary considerably depending on grooming skills, experience, location, reputation, and services you offer. 

Experienced mobile groomers or those specializing in luxury services may find that their income may exceed the national average. 

Services Offered by Dog Groomers

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of how to become a dog groomer, let’s first understand the services that professional dog groomers typically offer. These include:

  • Bathing and Drying: This includes washing your furry client with appropriate shampoos and conditioners, followed by towel or blow-drying.
  • Hair Trimming and Styling: Dog groomers are skilled at trimming hair and styling it according to the owner’s preferences or breed-specific standards.
  • Nail Clipping: Long nails can be uncomfortable for dogs, so groomers trim them to a safe and healthy length.
  • Ear Cleaning: Groomers ensure that your dog’s ears are free of excessive wax buildup and any potential infections.
  • Teeth Brushing: Exceptional oral hygiene is important for dogs too, and groomers offer this service to keep their pearly whites clean.
  • Flea and Tick Treatments: Groomers are trained to identify and treat any pesky parasites on your dog’s coat.

Now that you have an idea of the services offered by dog groomers, let’s move on to the steps to become one. 

How to Become a Dog Groomer and Curriculum

What Dog Groomers Need to Learn

Before starting a career in pet grooming, you must understand the basics of pet care.

Here are some of the topics that groomers need to master:

  • Anatomy & Physiology: Knowing the anatomy and physiology of different dog breeds is essential for providing proper care. For example, understanding how long coats interact with water or what matting feels like to the touch helps groomers make informed decisions.
  • Breed Standards: Different breeds have specific grooming needs. For instance, poodles need a different cut than labradors. Groomers must know the breed standards to ensure they meet their clients’ expectations.
  • Health and Safety: As with any profession involving animals, groomers need to prioritize health and pet safety. This includes knowing how to handle and restrain dogs safely, recognizing signs of distress, and preventing injuries.
  • Grooming Techniques: From bathing to blow-drying, there are various techniques that groomers must learn to provide a quality grooming experience. They also need to know how to use tools like clippers, shears, combs, and brushes for specific breeds or styles.
  • Business Management: To excel in the pet grooming industry, it’s essential to have basic business knowledge. This includes managing finances, marketing skills, and customer service.

By mastering these topics and gaining experience through practical application, groomers can become proficient and successful in their chosen profession. 

Ways to Obtain Training

The first step and most important thing to becoming a professional dog groomer is obtaining training.

Here are some ways to obtain formal training and gain grooming skills:

Online Training

One of the most convenient and inexpensive ways to get started in dog grooming is by taking an online course.

Online courses provide a comprehensive overview of pet grooming essentials, such as breed-specific cuts, tools, sanitation standards, and more.

Online learning is accessible almost anytime and anywhere with an internet connection. These online programs offer students a chance to learn at their own pace and typically include tutorials and videos.

QC Pet Studies offers an online pet grooming course.

Attend a Grooming School

Another way to obtain professional training is to attend an accredited grooming school. A grooming school offers the most comprehensive education in a classroom setting, with hands-on guidance from experienced instructors.

Attendees of dog grooming schools learn the fundamentals of styling, health and nutrition, business operations, and more. Depending on their budget and schedule, students can choose from several levels of instruction.

On The Job Training

For those looking to get started quickly, on-the-job training is a perfect way to learn as you go and gain practical experience.

Many pet groomers begin their careers in apprenticeship programs by working in pet salons under the supervision of an experienced groomer or mentor. On-the-job training allows apprentices to gain practical, hands-on work experience while shadowing and learning from seasoned professional pet groomers.

Aspiring groomers need to find a good fit, as the quality of their education and experience can vary.

Get Certified

Finally, earning a professional dog grooming certification is a great way to demonstrate your mastery of pet grooming and validate your expertise.

Certifications are generally offered through various trade organizations for groomers who have completed a certain number of hours of training or apprenticeship, as well as passed the organization’s exams.

In addition to adding credibility and boosting career opportunities, certifications can also qualify professionals for higher wages and help them differentiate themselves from other groomers.

How Much Does Training Cost?

The cost of training to become a dog groomer varies depending on the type of program you choose.

Online courses can range from $100 to $400 while attending a regular grooming school can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000.

On-the-job training may not require any upfront costs, but apprentices may earn less during their training period compared to professional groomers.

Where to Find Grooming Jobs 

Once you have the necessary training, the next step is to find a job or start your own business.

Here are some of the ways dog groomers can get their foot in the door:

  • Grooming Salons: Many established salon owners hire groomers with varying experience levels. It’s a great way to gain experience and learn from experienced professionals. 
  • Pet Stores: Some pet shops and stores like Petco or PetSmart offer grooming services within their stores. They often hire groomers to provide these services.
  • Pet Daycare Centers: Some pet and doggy daycares offer grooming services, which can be a great opportunity for aspiring groomers to gain hands-on experience. 
  • Veterinary Clinic: Some groomers work in veterinary clinics, providing grooming services to the clinic’s clients. Working in a clinic can be a great way to build long-lasting relationships with pet owners and gain valuable experience working with different breeds and temperaments.
  • Mobile Grooming Salons: Being a mobile groomer involves bringing the salon to the customer’s home. It’s an increasingly popular service that offers flexibility and convenience for pet owners. 
  • Starting Your Own Business: Finally, with the right experience and training, starting your own business as a self-employed groomer is possible. Most states require a professional license or certification to open a grooming salon, which can be obtained through an accredited training program. 

Final Thoughts

Starting a career as a dog groomer is an exciting and rewarding journey. With the proper training, knowledge, and experience, you can make your dream of becoming a professional certified dog groomer come true.

From working in established salons to starting your own mobile grooming service, the possibilities are endless for those who want to pursue this line of work. 

You can visit The National Dog Groomers Association of America for more information about dog grooming and training. NDGAA is a professional organization that provides certification, formal education, and support for dog groomers. 

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