Find a New Career in Pampered Pooches
If you want to work with dogs but you’re not interested in pursuing a medical career, becoming a groomer might be right for you. Many groomers set their own schedules and can easily balance part-time and even full-time work with family life.
Dog groomers bathe their four-footed clients, clean teeth, trim nails, provide ear care and employ breed-specific grooming techniques. For example, only two haircuts, or “clips,” are approved by the Westminster Kennel Club for poodles that will appear in the show ring. Poodle owners who do not show their dogs have a range of other options, including the Bikini Clip, the Lamb Clip, the Town and Country Clip, and the Puppy Clip. Groomers can advise owners on the best style for their canine companions. Groomers recommend and sometimes sell grooming products and flea and tick prevention products. Experienced groomers can often spot injury, illness or disease in your pet and recommend that you take your animal to a veterinarian.
No formal education is required to become a dog groomer, although most employers seek candidates who hold a minimum of a high school diploma. Groomers learn on the job and through apprenticeship programs, which typically last 6–10 weeks. There are approximately 50 state-approved grooming programs offered by community colleges, vocational schools and for-profit institutions across the U.S. Training usually ranges from 300–600 hours and can cost anywhere from $3,000 to nearly $12,000. Some schools offer an associate’s degree in animal science with a concentration in grooming. This is a good option if you plan to continue your education and earn a higher degree. If you plan to run your own salon or mobile grooming service, you should look for programs that offer courses in small business management.
About the Industry
Dog groomers work in a variety of settings, including veterinary facilities, kennels, pet stores, pet owners’ homes, mobile grooming services and even their own homes. Full- and part-time opportunities are available. Some dog groomers work evenings or weekends to accommodate their clients’ schedules.
Certification is not required but is highly desirable. It offers assurance to customers and can help you build your business. Employers often prefer to hire groomers who have obtained certification, as the credential demonstrates a certain level of skill and professionalism. Certification is offered through the National Dog Groomers Association of America, which offers workshops and trainings throughout the country.
Years of Experience
The median annual salary for a full-time dog groomer is $33,245. Median means that half the groomers earn more, while half earn less. Salaries depend on geographic location and other factors. Some average salary ranges include:
- Less than one year of experience: $30,245–$33,860
- 5-7 years’ experience: $32,609–$36,936
- 10-20+ years’ experience: $32,609–$36,936
Job Growth Trend
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts 11 percent growth in job opportunities for animal groomers, which is higher than average compared to other jobs. Demand is expected to remain high as the number of pets in U.S. households continues to grow. Mobile grooming services are becoming increasingly popular, as busy pet owners appreciate the convenience of grooming services brought to their door on their schedule.
Denise Dayton, M.Ed., M.S. teaches career readiness and workplace success, along with other business courses, at a small college in New England.