Pet groomers bathe, style, brush, and maintain the appearance of dogs and cats. Most pet groomers work in grooming salons, pet retail stores, kennels, or animal health clinics.
There is no standard formal education for pet groomers, although pet groomers usually have a high school diploma or equivalent. Most groomers participate in a year-long apprenticeship under the supervision of a highly experienced groomer. New groomers are taught how to safely handle pets; brush, trim, bathe, and style animal coats; clip nails; and provide other maintenance services.
The experience gained in an apprenticeship allows groomers to obtain entry-level employment after completing the apprenticeship. However, there are 50 state-approved dog grooming schools that offer programs lasting from two weeks to several months. Most employers base hiring decisions on grooming experience rather than formal education.
Pet groomers should be able to safely handle and transport animals, provide appearance care, and successfully communicate with animal owners. They must have strong customer service and clerical skills in order to answer phones, schedule appointments, and relay important animal health information to clients. Above all, pet groomers should have a passion for working with animals.
Pet groomers are typically required to have 1-3 years of grooming experience. Entry-level careers are available for beginning groomers who have one year of experience through an apprenticeship. Some employers may also provide on-the-job training programs for newly hired groomers with minimal professional experience.
Licenses and Certifications
There are no licensing requirements for pet groomers. The National Dog Grooming Association of America (NDGAA) offers voluntary certification that demonstrates overall proficiency in dog grooming, maintenance, and animal safety. The NDGAA certification is available for both members and non-members of NDGAA. Groomers must participate in a training workshop, demonstrate practical grooming skills, and pass two exams to obtain certification. To pass the practical skills section of the certification program, groomers must bring a dog and their own grooming supplies to a designated NDGAA grooming center. The organization provides study materials and test-taking information.
Workshops and Seminars
Employers, vocational, and technical schools may offer 1 or 2-day workshops on different aspects of pet grooming. Some workshops focus on one specific breed of animal or general animal health and wellness topics. On-the-job training programs offered by employers often include workshops that must be passed before groomers can work on clients' pets.
The NDGAA offers training workshops each month. Workshops are held in different cities around the country and teach groomers how to successfully groom, style, and maintain the appearance of dogs. These workshops may be taken as part of the association's certification process. In addition, the NDGAA holds annual seminars, competitions, and grooming trade shows, where hour-long training sessions and other workshops may be available.
The NDGAA offers professional resources for dog groomers and pet grooming business owners. The association provides legal, financial, and business advice through its publication Groomers Voice, which is published three times a year. Members can also take advantage of insurance and health-related resources for self-employed groomers.
Pet groomers with many years of experience and industry certification can open their own pet grooming business. Groomers can provide mobile grooming services or work from a salon or grooming center. Pet groomers employed by large retail companies can also seek advancement to supervisory positions within the grooming department.
Becoming a pet groomer hinges largely on experience, which is why an apprenticeship is the most common method of training in the field.