How to Become a Pet Groomer

Pet groomers are skilled individuals who work within a variety of settings who wash, brush, and shave dogs and cats. Pet groomers must be capable of handling the technical aspects of grooming pets as well as helping the animals feel at ease while managing customer service, clerical, and communication with pet owners and clients. Pet groomers clean pets, shave pets, trim nails, offer ear care, identify and report an animal’s health or behavior issues, and maintain sanitary and safe conditions to prevent personal or pet injury and disease. Pet groomers generally work within private veterinarian’s offices, boarding kennels, pet stores, mobile grooming services, or self operated businesses. Pet groomers must generally possess a minimum of a high school diploma or G.E.D. combined with highly specialized training to establish careers as qualified professionals.

Training to become a pet groomer requires the combination of theoretical classroom and hands on training. Most complete training programs offered through professional grooming schools, online courses, or apprenticeship programs. High school students may prepare for a career as a pet groomer by taking courses in psychology, biology, English, communications, and business mathematics. Many students also volunteer or gain employment within private veterinarian’s offices, animal shelters, or kennels in part time, entry level positions. Upon attainment of a diploma, many high school graduates advance to apprenticeship programs or formal training programs.

Apprenticeships offer potential pet groomers the knowledge, skills, and work experiences necessary to advance as professionals in the field. Individuals within apprenticeships work closely under the supervision of more experienced pet groomers learning the basic aspects of the occupation. Apprenticeships generally require a 6 to 10 week time investment and students begin with basic tasks, like washing and shampooing animals and then move on to more complex tasks, like operating grooming equipment and identifying skin disorders. Individuals also learn how to sanitize grooming equipment and maintain safe work conditions with proper pet muzzling and restraining techniques. Individuals also learn how to sustain the business aspects of being a pet groomer, including customer relations and bookkeeping tasks. Most individuals who complete an apprenticeship advance to employment as entry level groomers or continue studies within licensing or formal training programs.

Trade and technical schools, online programs, and correspondence schools provide an expanded understanding of pet grooming. Most programs require a 2 to 18 week time investment and offer technical knowledge and means of refining career skills. Courses offer students a sound educational basis necessary to increase knowledge, skill, and abilities. Most technical programs offer students courses like: canine and feline anatomy, grooming skills for all breeds, equipment care and maintenance, brushing and dematting, bathing and dipping, blow dry and styling techniques, ear plucking and cleaning, clipper use and handling, skin types, setting patterns, thinning the coat, hand scissoring, internal and external parasites, ear infections, foot problems, nail trimming, eye care, expressing anal glands, hip and knee cap problems, nervousness and convulsions, special dog care, grooming puppies, animal personality traits, muzzling, personal safety, handling and control, business planning and ownership, service pricing, customer record keeping, advertising and marketing, zoning regulations, and establishing a client base. Most technical programs also provide students with the tools required for performing grooming tasks, like brushes, clippers, combs, nail trimmers, and grooming scissors. Individuals who complete technical programs generally advance to employment or continue studies within certification programs.

The International Association of Pet Designers offers individuals the ability to gain specialized instruction as well as the means of gaining certification. Professional groomer training programs provide students with over 1,000 hours of instruction with courses like: animal body language and behavior, breed identification, accident prevention and safety, salon organization and layout, CPR and First Aid, anatomy and range of motion, nail trimming, shave downs, ear hair plucking and cleaning, skin problem identification, expressing anal glands, proper use of hair dryers, safe handling and bathing of cats, creative coloring, flea and tick identification and removal, efficiency and speed grooming techniques, wet shedding techniques, time management techniques, marketing and advertising techniques, establishing a client base, client relations, and services pricing. Individuals who participate within professional groomer training programs also gain hands on experiences and generally advance to positions as entry level groomers upon completion of training programs.

Experienced pet groomers frequently gain certification through the National Dog Groomers Association of America. Certification programs offer candidates means of demonstrating skills and knowledge learned by successfully completing written examinations to gain licensure and advance their careers. Certification programs also provide means of continuing education necessary to remain current of industry changes and maintain licensing. Most experienced pet groomers advance to managerial positions within larger pet grooming service organizations or establish their own businesses upon securing adequate funding, experience, and training. Groomers who wish to advance education through associate or higher degree programs must continue studies within related educational fields as pet grooming degree programs at the college level do not exist.

Featured Degree Programs