How to Become a Dog Groomer: Requirements, Job Description & Salary

Oct 20, 2021

Dog groomers work in a variety of settings, including pet stores, kennels, and a pet owner's home. A high school diploma is required for this career, and dog groomers usually learn through an apprenticeship or on-the-job training. Additionally, dog groomers can attend a grooming school, and voluntary certification is available. Read on to learn more about how to become a certified dog groomer.

How Do You Become a Dog Groomer?

Dog groomers maintain the physical appearance of all varieties of canines. They usually begin their careers by completing an apprenticeship program in which they bathe, trim and style dog fur under the supervision of an experienced groomer. Professional dog groomers may further demonstrate field-specific competence by earning certification. Interested in learning about how to be a dog groomer? This career has few educational requirements.

Required Education High school diploma standard requirement
Other Requirements Completion of dog grooming apprenticeship program or on-the-job training
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029)* 23% for animal caretakers
Median Salary (2019)* $24,780 for all nonfarm animal caretakers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Dog Grooming Requirements

The steps to become a dog groomer are as follows:

  1. Obtain a high school diploma
  2. Pursue an apprenticeship or other training
  3. Consider voluntary certification

Education Requirements

There are no strict formal education requirements for becoming a dog groomer; however, employers usually prefer candidates with a high school diploma or equivalent. Training to become a dog groomer is offered through apprenticeship programs, which typically last 6-10 weeks. Apprentices learn grooming skills, such as bathing, drying, haircutting, nail clipping, and dog handling, through hands-on training under the supervision of experienced groomers. Groomers may also be trained by one of 50 state-approved grooming schools. These programs usually last 2-18 weeks. However, in some cases, an apprenticeship is not necessary. Many dog groomers learn the skills of their trade exclusively through on-the-job training, though past experience caring for dogs is helpful. The answer to ''how long does it take to become a dog groomer?'' therefore varies based on location, past experience, and the needs of specific employers.

What Dog Groomers Learn

When in training to become a dog groomer, you may learn some or all of the following:

  • Different breeds of dog and their temperaments
  • How to keep dogs calm and happy during grooming
  • How to maintain different kinds of fur
  • How to perform CPR and other emergency medicine on dogs

Dog Grooming Certification

If you are wondering how to get into dog grooming, remember that this is a career that you can start with very little experience. However, in order to excel in your field, you may wish to consider getting a voluntary dog grooming license. Dog groomers can demonstrate proficiency by earning certification. The National Dog Groomers Association of America offers the National Certified Master Groomer designation. This certification entails attending an accredited workshop, proving practical skills through demonstration and passing a set of written exams. The International Professional Groomers, Inc. offers a more rigorous certification program, involving four written exams and five demonstrations. Candidates who pass with 70% or higher are rewarded with the International Model of Pet Grooming Distinction, and those who pass with 86% or higher are deemed International Certified Master Groomers.

Dog Groomer Job Description

Dog groomers usually work in kennels, shelters, pet stores, veterinary facilities, and pet owners' homes. Their main duty is maintaining dogs' physical appearance. The dog grooming process involves brushing and cutting the fur, clipping nails, cleaning ears, bathing, drying and finally styling the fur. Groomers may also be responsible for sanitizing combs and shears, scheduling appointments and reporting issues or assessments to pet owners. If these tasks sound appealing to you, you may wish to become a puppy groomer.

Where Do Dog Groomers Work?

Dog groomers typically work in specialized dog grooming facilities. Some pet shops and pet supply stores also offer dog grooming in-store. Some animal hospitals and clinics also employ dog groomers, as do dog shows, animal shelters, and kennels. Some dog groomers do their business from their own homes.

Dog grooming certification is voluntary but may be helpful

Dog Groomer Salary Information

Dog groomers earn fairly low wages. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in May 2019 nonfarm animal caretakers, including dog groomers, earned a median annual wage of $24,780. Pay varies slightly by location and industry. The highest-paying locations were the District of Columbia and Hawaii in 2019. Animal caretakers in the District of Columbia earned an annual mean wage of $36,400, and those in Alaska earned a mean wage of $33,200 in 2019.

Dog groomers are responsible for maintaining a dog's appearance, including washing, drying, brushing, cutting and styling fur. They also clip a dog's nails and clean their ears. Job opportunities for animal care and service workers, including dog groomers, are expected to grow 23% between 2019 and 2029, which is much faster than the average rate for all occupations.

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