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Animal groomers require little formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and certification options to see if this is the right career for you.
Animal groomers are experts at bathing pets, and groomers also style pets to make them look appealing and help them maintain their hygiene. Groomers may also be interested in owning their own business or becoming involved in purebred animal shows. A high school diploma or GED is the minimum education required for an animal grooming career, though relevant postsecondary education programs are available. Candidates might consider earning a diploma or certificate in animal grooming or an associate's degree in animal care. They might also consider apprenticing under an experienced groomer to learn the trade. Voluntary certification from the National Dog Groomers Association of America is available.
|Required Education||High school diploma or GED at minimum; undergraduate degree, certificate and diploma programs are available|
|Other Requirements||On-the-job training or apprenticeship|
|Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)*||15% for all nonfarm animal caretakers|
|Average Salary (2013)*||$22,510 for all nonfarm animal caretakers|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Most animal groomers work with dogs and cats in a salon environment where owners bring their pet, although mobile pet-grooming services - where groomers bathe and style animals at the owner's place of residence - are becoming increasingly common. Other places that offer animal grooming services include veterinary clinics, animal shelters and pet supply stores.
Groomers wash and dry animals in addition to de-matting, brushing and trimming their hair. They trim nails, clean ears and inspect skin for signs of disease or parasites. Animal groomers know how to properly handle an animal and use humane restraining techniques if the animal becomes aggressive or nervous. Some dog groomers specialize in preparing show dogs for competition; these groomers must be aware of grooming standards and specific styles for each breed of purebred dog.
In 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported an average hourly wage of $10.82, or $22,510 per year, for nonfarm animal caretakers, including groomers. The BLS also projected 15% employment growth for nonfarm animal caretakers in general from 2012-2022.
Most grooming jobs require candidates to have at least a high school diploma or GED and complete on-the-job training. In addition, those interested in becoming animal groomers can attend either a formal education program in pet grooming or an informal apprenticeship under an experienced groomer to learn the skills of the trade. Apprenticeships usually last a month or two and start trainees on one aspect of grooming, slowly introducing new steps until the student is ready to learn clipping and styling of animals.
A certificate or diploma program in animal grooming teaches students how to use the profession's necessary tools. Students also take classes on dog and cat anatomy, grooming and bathing techniques, basic animal handling skills and dog breed groups. Some colleges offer associate's degree programs in animal care, which include expanded course options covering small and large animal care, animal behavior and small business management.
Though not required, animal groomers can seek voluntary certification, especially if they want to work in the purebred animal show industry. The National Dog Groomers Association of America (NDGAA) offers certification as a national master groomer (www.nationaldoggroomers.com). Certification candidates qualify after taking at least one NDGAA-accredited workshop. Exams consist of a written portion and practical demonstration of skills; only certain cities and NDGAA events offer certification testing.