How To Become a Dog Groomer

By Jordan Fabel •  Updated: July 21, 2021  •  8 min read  •  Animals
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Do you love dogs? You can enter a career as a dog groomer and enjoy every day at work. There are certain steps you will need to follow, however. If you want to learn how to become a dog groomer, a little research is necessary.

How To Become a Dog Groomer

What is a Dog Groomer?

A dog groomer is exactly what it sounds like; it’s someone that grooms dogs. As a dog groomer, you will help make the dogs of your clients more attractive and cleaner. Some of the duties you will likely complete include:

Along with these duties, you will be responsible for reporting any skin issues you notice when it comes to the dog. For example, if there is a skin condition, you may need to use specific shampoos and soaps.

Steps to Becoming a Dog Groomer

Get a High School Education

You will need a high school diploma or GED to land a dog groomer position. It will likely be necessary to get into dog groomer school or to take on an apprenticeship.

While you’re in high school, working at or volunteering at an animal shelter can be helpful. This will help you to figure out if you want to work with dogs for your career path.

Complete Training/Education

If you want to become a dog groomer, you need the right training. There are online courses you can take, along with in-person dog grooming school. The online courses offer some of the basics and the ability to learn about dogs. You can learn all about dog anatomy, dog behavior and temperament, dog hair and skill, and more.

Many of the online programs will only give you the bookwork and knowledge you need. Going to dog grooming school will help give you more hands-on experience. The National Dog Groomers Association of American provides an in-person training program. You can earn a certificate after completing the five sections of the workshop:

These techniques will help you deal with the different types of dog hair and patterns you will likely encounter. However, you will still have to pass a test, work on a live animal, and get certified after completing these workshops.

If you want to become a dog groomer, you can expect to spend several hundred hours training. Make sure the program you choose is nationally recognized.

Take on an Apprenticeship or Assistant Job

Not all dog groomers will complete an apprenticeship. However, gaining on-the-job training can be an invaluable asset for building your career. Working as an assistant or an apprentice under a skilled and experienced dog groomer can help you gain the skills you need.

Many dog groomers will gain at least six months of experience or more. It’s common to work as a groomer assistant before moving on to becoming a dog groomer. As an apprentice, you can gain the necessary hands-on skills, learning about styling, cleaning, and common skin issues.

Become Certified

Dog groomers need to become certified so clients can trust them with their pets. The National Dog Groomer Association of America provides certification programs with a written exam and a demonstration of skills. You can also get a certification through the International Professional Groomers, Inc.

You can also get a certification as a master groomer from the International Society of Canine Cosmetologists. This program offers a bit more than the others since it’s for a master groomer certification.

With a certification, you will have proof of your skills. In addition, the written test will likely include topics about dog breeds, skin issues, and different grooming techniques.

Get CPR and First Aid Training

It’s also important for dog groomers to learn animal first aid and CPR. This type, of course, can last around 35 minutes and can be taken through the Red Cross online. You will learn how to check vital signs, provide first aid for dogs, and provide preventative care.

Qualities that Make a Good Dog Groomer

If you’re considering a career as a dog groomer, certain qualities will help. First, of course, a love for animals, specifically dogs, is necessary. You should also have some or all of the following basic qualities:

It’s also helpful to be detail-oriented and to have the ability to work with dogs gently. You will also need good communication skills since you will need to communicate with dog owners.

If you want to work with dogs as a groomer, consider the skills you already have. Then, you can train in the field to gain the other necessary skills.

Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Dog Groomer

How much can you make as a dog groomer?

The salary you earn as a dog groomer depends on the position you accept. Many dog groomers open their own businesses and may also provide additional services and products. If you work for an employer, the average salary for a dog groomer is about $36K per year. However, your salary might range from $14K to $87K, depending on experience and how much you work.

If you start your own business, you might also kennel dogs and offer specialty products. Then, as a business owner, you can make quite a bit more each year.

Where do dog groomers work?

Most work for kennels, veterinary clinics, pet shops, or mobile units. It’s also common for dog groomers to start their own business. You may also land a dog grooming job at a dog show. Sometimes, you can even work as a private pet groomer in the homes of pet owners.

How long will I need to train to become a dog groomer?

Typically, you will need to train anywhere from 400 to 650 hours. This training will either be in a dog grooming school or as an assistant to an experienced groomer. Most training programs can be completed in less than six months.

If you choose to do an apprenticeship, it will likely last six to ten weeks.

Is the job of a dog groomer growing?

Yes. Overall, the position of animal caretaker (dog groomer falls under this category) is expected to grow by about 23% over the next ten years. This is far above the average rate for all occupations.

What type of tools will I use as a dog groomer?

You will need many tools if you want to go into business for yourself as a dog groomer. If you work for an employer, they will likely provide these tools for you. Basic dog grooming tools include:

You may need a few other tools if a client requests specific types of grooming.

Do I need a certification to become a dog groomer?

No. Certification isn’t a requirement, but it can be helpful. Not only will it require you to get the right training, but it will also allow pet owners to trust you as a groomer.

What are the criteria to look for in a dog groomer school?

When it’s time to look for a grooming school, it’s necessary to find the right one. You want a school with certified instructors. It’s best if the instructors are master groomers, too.

There are many dog grooming school options out there to choose from. Take the time to look at several options before you choose the right school for you.

Is an apprenticeship better than a dog grooming school?

You can use an apprenticeship as a supplemental training option. It can also allow you to gain experience in the industry. However, the best dog groomers will gain some education before taking on an apprenticeship. In addition, some online programs offer everything you need before entering an apprenticeship to gain hands-on training.

Jordan Fabel

Jordan Fabel

Covering different 'paths' that people's lives can take. Creative, foster parent, ticket dismissal, you get the idea. Exploring the requirements, certifications, exams, and obviously, approved courses along each path. I, personally, am the high school dropout son of two teacher parents. So how did I get here? That story is coming soon!