Dog Groomer: Salary and Career Facts

Lean about the customer service and grooming responsibilities of a dog groomer. Find out what type of training you'll need to enter the field, information about voluntary certifications and how much you can earn in hourly wages or salary. Schools offering Pet Grooming degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Dog Groomer?

As a dog groomer, it will be your responsibility to improve and maintain a dog's appearance. You'll perform a variety of grooming tasks, such as hair brushing, hair cutting, nail cutting, bathing and styling. Depending on the breed, you'll need to master different grooming techniques; for example, a variety of shears, scissors and electric trimmers may be employed for different styles, hair types or hair lengths. It is essential that you're comfortable working closely with dogs.

You'll also need to have strong customer service skills, because a significant component of your job includes working with dog owners. This includes identifying their goals for their dogs, learning about their dogs' temperaments and gathering data on the dogs' well-being. Particularly with high-end clientele, you may perform house calls in order to provide better service to owners with demanding schedules. You may work in your own dog grooming shop, a pet salon, kennel, shelter, pet store or veterinary office. Below is important information on how to become a dog groomer.

Degree Required High school or GED
Key Duties Pet grooming and animal care
Job Growth (2014-2024) 11%* (all nonfarm animal caretakers)
Median Salary (2015) $21,010* ('all nonfarm animal caretakers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Can I Expect as a Salary?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, dog groomers and other nonfarm animal caretakers earned a median hourly wage of $10.10 in May 2015 (www.bls.gov). The median annual salary at that time was $21,010. Other workers included in this group were those caring for circus animals, zoo animals and pets, such as cats, mice and fish.

As of 2015, you could find the best paying dog groomer jobs in Hawaii, followed by the District of Columbia, California and Rhode Island. The city of San Rafael, California, had the highest hourly mean wage, which was $18.76. The highest concentration of these types of jobs among all workers in a state could be found in Colorado, followed by Virginia and Kentucky.

What Types of Training Programs are Available?

You can train as a dog groomer via a few different methods. In many cases, you can learn dog grooming by working as an apprentice under a veteran groomer. If you follow this track, you may begin by observing, then slowly assuming responsibilities while being closely supervised.

As an alternative, you can attend a dog grooming school. These schools are plentiful, and you may be able to find a school that has been licensed by its state. State licensing ensures that a school will train you in accordance with any applicable laws or regulations. Dog grooming training programs vary in length from two weeks to several months. Most programs will train you in grooming skills, tool usage, sanitation and advanced grooming design.

What Are My Certification Options?

You won't need certification to work as a dog groomer, but it can be helpful in obtaining a job or advancing professionally. Several organizations offer certification, including the National Dog Groomers Association of America, Inc. (NDGAA) and International Professional Groomers, Inc. (IPG). Becoming certified typically requires you to pass an exam or series of exams, which may include both written and practical components. You may need to pass exams covering grooming techniques used with different breeds or types of breeds, such as sporting and non-sporting dogs. Through the NDGAA, you can earn the National Certified Master Groomer title, while IPG offers the International Model of Pet Grooming Distinction and the International Certified Master Groomer titles.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Some alternative careers that also require a high school diploma or equivalent are veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers, as well as farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers. Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers provide basic care for animals in clinics or labs. This may include cleaning cages, feeding animals or exercising them. Farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers coordinate and oversee the daily activities of their farming establishment. They may manage the production of things like crops or dairy products.

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