How to Become a Pet Stylist: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Research the requirements to become a pet stylist. Learn about the job description and duties, and read the step-by-step process to start a career in pet styling. View article »

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  • 0:00 Pet Stylist Career Info
  • 0:59 Get Trained
  • 2:06 Find Employment
  • 2:33 Consider Entrepreneurship
  • 3:04 Seek Certification

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Video Transcript

Pet Stylist Career Info

Degree Level None; certificate and diploma programs available
Degree Field Pet grooming
Certification Voluntary
Experience On-the-job training
Key Skills Animal management and customer service skills; compassion and patience
Salary $29,615 (2016 median salary for all pet groomers)

Source: Payscale.com

Pet stylists, or groomers, bathe animals and trim their hair and nails. They might work in pet stores, styling salons, boarding kennels, animal clinics and animal rescue organizations or be self-employed. Mobile businesses that offer pet styling services are also growing in demand, since pets can stay in more familiar surroundings. Pet stylists have to have physical stamina since they spend many hours standing, and care must be taken with animals that might nip at unfamiliar people.

These professionals should also have strong customer service skills, compassion and patience. In 2016, Payscale.com reported that pet groomers in the United States earned a median annual salary of $29,615.

Get Trained

The first step to becoming a professional pet groomer, is to complete training. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, pet stylists typically receive 12 to 20 weeks of on-the-job training from a skilled groomer. However, several state-licensed schools offer certificate or diploma programs in pet grooming. These programs teach students about equipment use and maintenance, animal behavior, breed recognition, animal anatomy, skin disorders and parasites.

Students typically receive hands-on training in basic grooming techniques, such as shampooing, fluff drying, nail trimming, ear cleaning, scissoring and styling. Some schools offer more advanced programs that include coursework and training in additional skills, including shop management, pet first aid, styling patterns and nutrition.

After completing training in pet grooming, students can learn more specialized skills through continuing education classes.

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Find Employment

After they finish training, pet stylists find work in a variety of places, such as veterinary offices, pet shops, mobile pet grooming services, kennels and grooming salons. Some of these establishments provide apprenticeships for those who didn't receive formal training. Some pet grooming schools and programs offer career assistance for graduates.

Consider Entrepreneurship

Some pet stylists choose to open their own salon or mobile grooming service. Some pet grooming schools may offer assistance to graduates who wish to open their own business. They help business owners with licensing, shop set-up and financing. Aspiring pet salon owners might consider taking coursework that covers accounting, payroll, customer relations, record keeping, price setting and advertising, if they don't already have these business skills.

Seek Certification

Dog stylists can seek certification through the National Dog Groomers Association of America (NDGAA). The National Certified Master Groomer credential requires successful completion of a written exam and a practical skills demonstration. The 400-question exam consists of breed standards and identification, canine terminology, anatomy and clipper identification. The practical skills demonstration has three segments that cover sporting, non-sporting and terrier classifications, with a written exam accompanying each segment. Members are encouraged to keep up with current trends by attending workshops.

Once again, pet stylists can earn their training on the job, though postsecondary courses are available and can provide a career advantage, particularly for those pet groomers who are interested in starting their own business.

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