In this article I am going to explain a few different ways you can learn how to become a dog groomer. This page and most of the other pages on this website talk all about choosing this profession as a career. This is what I do for a living.
Dog grooming can be a very rewarding career, both financially and emotionally. Some professional dog groomers earn a lot of money. However,it is important that you get into the profession with the right expectations and training in order to succeed. Some people think it is mostly about playing with dogs all day and putting bows in their hair, but this could not be further from the reality of what is expected of a professional. That is not what pet groomers do all day. There is real work involved just like any other job. Even though this kind of work is fun, there are parts of it that aren’t so great either. I think that you will find that is true with just about any career path you choose.
How to get Training As A Pet Groomer
Learn from an experienced Veteran
One of the most popular ways to learn how to groom is to have a veteran groomer train you. There are three main ways to go about this. Some groomers will allow you to pay outright for training services. The price will vary greatly depending on the skills of the person doing the training and the length of training. Another option is to work off the price of training by completing jobs that require less skill. For example, you can train during normal business hours and work off the training by staying late to clean and sanitize the building. The third way would be to start at the bottom, for pay (maybe low pay at first) just to get your foot in the door and then work your way up from there.
Personally, this is the way that I learned to groom. I started out cleaning, worked my way up to bathing and then went on to working the front desk and preparing payroll and tax documents. After doing that for a few years I decided to learn to groom. Since I had worked there so long I was able to get the training I needed without having to pay anything or work it off.
Become Certified Through a School
Another option to learn to groom is to get certified through dog grooming school. There are both in class and online courses that will offer certification. If you decide to acquire your training this way, remember that it will provide very little hands on experience and that this type of training can be very costly. Also, you should know that you are not required to have professional certification in order to be successful in this field.
Get Hybrid Training
You also have the option of getting hybrid training, which consists of both classroom learning and on the job training. Most large chain pet supply stores that offer grooming services train their employees this way. You will likely have to start out bathing and prove yourself as a valuable asset to the company before they offer to pay for your training. Also, you may have to sign a two year contract with them before classes start. This agreement states that if you fail training or quit the company before the two years is up you must repay the cost of training and cannot work for a competitor until the two year time frame is over.
A personal warning from what I have learned is to explore the first two options before getting training from a corporate store. The large pet supply corporations tend to carry a negative reputation with many private groomers and it might make it harder to gain employment from some other small grooming businesses.
Where Dog Groomers Can Get Work
Once you have finished your training, it is time to decide on where to work. The choice will be mostly dependent on what working conditions or benefits you desire and what you can live without.
- Privately Owned Shop: Most groomers work at a privately owned shop, or open their own. You will most likely be a contracted worker, not an employee. This means no benefits, no paid time off, and no guarantee of work. You will also need to carry your own insurance and pay self-employment taxes. The good things about being a contracted worker are that you can set your own hours, prices, and work conditions. You will get paid on commission basis; for a groomer without much experience you can expect to retain 50% of what you earn.
- Corporation: The large corporations are a good option for those who would like to be an actual employee. As an employee you will be offered benefits and they will pay for the grooming insurance. Also, if you ever find a time where you have no dogs to groom you will still be paid an hourly wage to complete other tasks. If consistency and job security are high on your list, you should consider working as a groomer for a corporation.
- Other: There are other places that need dog grooming services. Veterinarian offices, dog rescues, and dog boarding facilities all regularly hire groomers. The payments and conditions of employment will vary greatly from place to place.
The most important aspects of becoming a dog groomer are where you get your training and where you work once trained. Your training will ultimately decide how far your career can take you. Take the time to meet the more experienced groomers working in your area and ask them how they acquired their training and what they would recommend.
If you are serious about learning how to become a dog groomer you could visit one of the more well established pet salon businesses in your area. Ask to speak to the owner. Tell her that you are interested in becoming a groomer. Ask for advice on what she would do if she was in your shoes. Also ask them if they would be willing to take you on part time as an intern. You might have to volunteer your time unpaid in order to get your foot in the door. Offer to help them clean up around the shop and do odds and ends just for the chance to learn a little bit about how to groom pets. Small business owners like ambitious people. When you approach them like this you are much more likely to get your foot in the door somewhere. Even if they don’t want to train you, at least you will have made a great contact in the industry and gained a little bit of insight into the local market for this business.
I would personally recommend that you work in the industry for at least a year before making the financial commitment to training. This will help you decide whether or not you would be happy doing pet grooming on a day to day basis. Even though the thought of being a professional groomer sounds like a great idea today, you wouldn’t want to spend thousands of dollars for specialized training in a field that you really don’t enjoy. After doing it for six months you might change your mind about doing it for a career. Hopefully you will love it, but you never know.