Animal grooming involves caring for the appearance and hygiene of pets. Read on to determine if a career as a dog or animal groomer is right for you, and what type of training you might need to obtain such a job.
Animal groomers help maintain the appearance of a variety of pets by bathing them, cutting and styling their coats, trimming their nails and brushing their teeth. The majority of pets that receive grooming are dogs, though some groomers specialize in horses, and a few groomers even work on cats.
Animal groomers can work at pet salons or stores, veterinary practices or kennels. Other groomer responsibilities can include scheduling customer appointments, talking to clients about their pets' needs and making observations on a pet's behavior and health, including noticing skin infections and other problems that may require medical attention. Effective dog and animal groomers must be comfortable with animals and possess an understanding of animal-human interactions.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects very good job prospects for animal care and service workers over the 2012-2022 decade, with a projected job growth of 15% (www.bls.gov). For groomers, this will be due in part to the growing pet population, particularly that of dogs, as well as increased popularity of mobile pet grooming services. As of May 2013, the mean annual salary for non-farm animal caretakers was $22,510.
If you decide to become an animal or dog groomer, you can gain training through an informal internship or on-the-job apprenticeship. As of 2012, 50 state-licensed grooming schools in the U.S. offer pet grooming programs lasting various lengths of time. Animal grooming students may take courses such as basic grooming techniques, breed recognition, dog handling and control, dog anatomy, skin disorders, first-aid, dental care, styling techniques and bite prevention methods. Accredited animal grooming certificate programs typically conclude with a final test given according to standards set by the National Dog Groomers Association of America (NDGAA).
Some programs cover additional coursework if you're interested in running your own business. These classes can include instruction in business planning, customer relations and store management.