Pet Groomer: Job Description and Info About a Career in Pet Grooming

The job of a pet groomer is to bathe, brush, trim and provide other grooming services for domestic pets, usually dogs and cats. Read about the training, skills, salary and employment outlook, to see if this occupation is for you.

Career Definition

A professional pet groomer does much more than just keep our pets looking and smelling nice. A pet groomer can be an important member of a pet's healthcare team by discovering potential problems early, such as ear infections, skin abnormalities or tooth decay. It is common for pet groomers to also be small business owners, owning and managing their own grooming salon; however, there are many opportunities to work as a pet groomer even if you're not interested in running a small business. Large pet-themed specialty stores, veterinarians, animal hospitals, kennels, shelters and up-scale hotels and resorts are just some of the places a skilled pet groomer may find work.

How to Become a Pet Groomer

Education Required

There is no specific educational requirement for becoming a pet groomer, although training programs are available through online courses and some vocational schools. However, many people in this field have learned their skills through on-the-job training. Experience, more than formal training, is often considered the most important factor when customers are choosing a pet groomer. Skilled pet groomers know the grooming standards for all breeds of dogs, understand small-animal anatomy and know how to spot changes in a pet's hygiene that might indicate a health concern. Pet groomers who wish to own their salons may benefit from some training in the basics of business management as well.

Skills Needed

In addition to patience and genuine care for animals, a pet groomer must have high standards of cleanliness and professionalism. Excellent customer service skills are required, and pet groomers who own their own salons may also need good management skills if they employ other groomers or assistants. Dogs may be the animal to most commonly visit a pet groomer, but groomers should be prepared to care for cats and other pets as well.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) projected a faster-than-average growth of 15% for animal care and service workers. The need for workers in the animal services industry has risen due to clients' increased interest in their pets' well-being. The BLS reported that the median annual wage for nonfarm animal caretakers, such as pet groomers, was $19,690 in 2012.

Alternate Career Options

Veterinary Assistant and Laboratory Animal Caretaker

With a high school diploma and on-the-job training, these workers care for animals in animal clinics and hospitals, in addition to those in research laboratories. From 2012-2022, the BLS projected average employment growth of 10%. In 2012, the BLS reported an annual median salary for these workers of $23,130.

Veterinary Technologist and Technician

After completing 2-4 years in veterinary technologist programs and possibly obtaining a license, these techs perform medical testing to diagnose animals' injuries and illnesses and work under the supervision of a licensed vet. A much faster than average job growth of 30% was expected from 2012-2022, according to the BLS. In 2012, the BLS also reported an annual median wage of $30,290 for vet techs.

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