How to Become a Professional Pet Groomer in 5 Steps

Pet groomers provide cleaning and aesthetic services for pets, including dogs, cats and others. These services include trimming hair, bathing, styling, cleaning ears and clipping nails. Find out how to become a pet groomer in five steps. Schools offering Pet Grooming degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Pet Groomer Requirements

Pet grooming is an unregulated industry that does not require specialized education or certification, although both are recommended. Pet groomers may work at a pet megastore, a private pet grooming salon or veterinary clinic, or they may work out of a mobile van. The chart below addresses requirements, salary, and job growth for pet groomers.

Typical Education High school diploma or GED
Training Required On-the-job training is most important; pet-grooming coursework is recommended
Certification Certification in pet grooming is available but not required
Job Growth (2016-26) 22%* (animal care and service workers)
Mean salary (2018) $25,890* (nonfarm animal caretakers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Do Your Homework

Pet groomers may not make a lot of money, but this can be a rewarding career for those who love animals. It can be physically demanding and stressful, and there's a risk of being bitten by pets that don't want to be groomed. The first step before going down this road is to make sure this is the right job for you.

Research this career online to learn about grooming techniques and different styles for different breeds. You'll need to learn how to clip a dog's nails, how to brush its teeth and how to cut its hair, and there are special considerations for cats and other pets. Watch online videos about pet grooming. Make friends with a professional dog groomer, if possible, and ask if you can observe a grooming to get a better idea of what's involved.

Also, if you've never washed a dog before, give it a try sometime!

Step 2: Take a Course in Pet Grooming

You don't have to worry about how to get a dog grooming license or a pet grooming degree because these do not exist. But both hands-on and online courses are available in pet grooming, and while they are not a necessity, they are highly recommended. Research pet-grooming courses in your area and see if you can find a good one that provides in-person training. Online courses are also available, but this is a field where experience may be the best teacher.

Step 3: Gain Entry-Level Work Experience

No matter how much study you've done, you're going to have to get your hands wet sooner or later, so find a way to dive in. You can volunteer to help at any facility that grooms pets, or you can seek an internship. You might become a groomer's assistant, which typically involves giving pets their bath, while the experienced groomer does the rest.

Get to know some of the pet groomers in your area and see if they can use your assistance to help you gain experience. Pick their brains about the skills needed to become a dog groomer and cat groomer. They may pay you little or nothing at first, but if they are impressed by your skills, you may have found your future employer.

Step 4: Pursue Certification

You do not need an official certification to be a pet groomer, but it certainly helps. Look up the National Dog Groomers Association of America to learn how to become a certified pet groomer. After completing the necessary coursework and/or workshops, you will have to demonstrate your grooming skills on various types of dogs, plus pass written exams.

Step 5: Go to Work

Ideally, through your studies and your networking, you have already identified potential employers that you can approach for steady work. Look into pet megastores, check with veterinary clinics, and talk to pet grooming salons and mobile providers.

If your dream is to start your own business, make it so. You will need a solid business plan, and probably a business license, plus startup capital to pay for supplies and a workplace. You can work out of your home, out of a pet-grooming shop on wheels or out of your own pet-grooming salon.

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