How to Become a Dog / Pet Groomer: Definitive Guide + Step-by-Step Instructions

Do you have a love and passion for animals?

Are you consistently renewed and refreshed by being around dogs, cats, and other household pets?

Are you incredibly patient, happiest when you’re making a difference, great with people, and looking to make a change in your career path?

Then we have good news — becoming a dog groomer (or a pet groomer) might be the perfect choice for you!

If you’ve got endless patience for feisty animals and a big heart for bettering the lives of people and their pets, this career is an excellent option.

Before you dive in, though, it’s important that you understand the many aspects and facets associated with being a dog groomer.

In this article, we’ll dive into salary, job expectancy, some frequently asked questions, and of course, how you can become a dog groomer in a few simple steps.

Check out our article below to get down into the info you need to become a dog groomer!

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Pet Groomer Job Description

You probably understand the very basic idea behind being a pet groomer, and we’re sure it revolves around bath time, nail clipping, and trimming up pups.

But, do you have a real, honest-to-goodness understanding of what all goes into being a pet groomer?

If not, we’re here to help.

For starters, as a pet groomer, you’ll be working with more than just pups.

Mostly, you’ll bath pets, style and cut their hair, trim their nails, brush their teeth, and ensure that they’re in tip-top, stylish shape before they’re returned back to their owners.

You might be required to provide specific grooming for specific breeds, take special requests, and work with rowdy or uncooperative animals.

Duties

Here’s a general idea of the duties that many pet groomers must be ready to take on:

  • bathe, cut, trim, and style pets for their owners
  • take specific requests from pet owners
  • work with uncooperative animals
  • be willing to muzzle animals if need be
  • take a passionate but firm approach with pets
  • brush teeth and clip nails
  • understand the standard grooming requirements for specific dog breeds
  • be up-to-date on the latest animal trends and crazes that owners might want their animals to replicate

Let's Talk Salary

If you’ve looked into being a pet groomer before, you probably already have a general idea that people who choose to be pet groomers do so because they have a passion for working with animals, and less because they’ll make a large amount of money in this career.

According to research, animal groomers have an average salary of about $33,536 annually, but can make between the range of $27,391 to about $41,852.

Data from the Us Department of Labor Occupational Handbook states that nonfarm animal caretakers make, on the low end, about $19,610, and on the high end, make around $56,000 annually.

That being said, unless you’re in a unique circumstance with extensive training and opportunity, you’ll likely make around $33,000.

Average National Salary: $33,536

$19K
10%
$28K
25%
$33K
50%
$39K
75%
$56K
90%
*Salary information last updated 2018

Average Annual Salary by State

State Avg. Annual Salary
Alabama $31,323
Alaska $37,470
Arizona $32,991
Arkansas $30,944
California $37,655
Colorado $33,670
Connecticut $36,009
Delaware $35,591
Florida $32,452
Georgia $32,791
Hawaii $34,712
Idaho $31,589
Illinois $35,465
Indiana $32,372
Iowa $31,995
Kansas $32,726
Kentucky $31,396
Louisiana $33,052
Maine $33,261
Maryland $34,226
Massachusetts $37,872
Michigan $34,113
Minnesota $35,458
Mississippi $29,628
Missouri $32,726
Montana $31,885
Nebraska $31,477
Nevada $34,626
New Hampshire $35,158
New Jersey $38,022
New Mexico $31,096
New York $40,286
North Carolina $32,614
North Dakota $31,103
Ohio $33,127
Oklahoma $31,573
Oregon $34,799
Pennsylvania $35,824
Rhode Island $35,258
South Carolina $31,424
South Dakota $29,179
Tennessee $30,853
Texas $34,126
Utah $31,578
Vermont $33,117
Virginia $36,966
Washington $36,535
West Virginia $30,327
Wisconsin $33,008
Wyoming $30,564

How to Become a Pet Groomer : Step-By-Step

Step 1Do Your Research

Before you can dive into a pet grooming career, it’s important to research and understand what kind of pet grooming you’d like to get into, how you plan to gain experience, and what sort of knowledge you’ll need to glean before you’re able to start.

Consider reading books about the subject, doing online research to find courses that make sense for you, and understanding what kind of certifications could provide you with the best opportunities.

Step 2Find the Right Pet Grooming Course For You

While pet grooming courses are not required, it’s likely you’ll have a much easier time gaining employment if you’re knowledgeable, have completed coursework on the subject, and have experience in this field.

Find the course that works best for you — remember, if you’re not near any schools that offer this program, you can find an online program to complete.

Try to find courses that cover topics like safety, first-aid, fluff drying, biology, breed recognition, nail clipping, ear cleaning, matted fur grooming, and more.

Step 3Gain Experience

Working through your courses is the first step (and a good one at that), but you’ll need to gain experience in your field before you’re able to land a job.

Try working as a pet grooming assistant, find a mentor, or work as an intern at your local grooming shop.

Can’t land anything just yet? Try grooming your friends’ pets to get your practice in.

Step 4Work Toward Certification

Certification certainly isn’t required, but if you’re hoping to become a successful groomer, you’ll want to work toward this.

Check in with the National Certified Groomer Association and the National Certified Master Groomer Association.

To be certified with these programs, you’ll need to complete workshops, courses, and demonstrate your skills in order to gain the certification.

To keep these certifications, you’ll need to update your education and refresh your certification yearly.


Education Required

No formal education is required in order to land a pet grooming job, but without a doubt having experience, taking a course or two, and being certified will help you get a pet grooming job much faster.

You do not need a high school diploma or a GED equivalency, but either is certainly preferred.

No formal license is required to be a dog groomer, but gleaning experience from experts, investing in courses, and undergoing basic training will take your career a lot farther than no education at all.

Video About The Career


What Certifications Do I Need to be A Dog Groomer?

No certification, license, or education is required to be a dog groomer, but training courses (whether online or in-person) are highly recommended.

You are welcome to become certified with the Nation Certified Dog Groomer and National Certified Master Dog Groomer Association in order to better your career, earn clout, and receive extra benefits, but it’s certainly not required in order to be a dog groomer.

Certification Example:

dog grooming certification example

Average Training Program Duration: 0-6 Months

An average online course or apprenticeship will vary based on the amount of time and energy you’re able to dedicate to the course at once, but most programs take about 6-10 weeks to complete.

Popular Degree Programs


What is the Job Outlook for Pet Groomers?

The beautiful thing about working in an industry that involves pets is that there’s always going to be some kind of demand.

People love their pets, and likely, the human population won’t trend toward not owning pets any time soon, so the demand for their care is going to continue to increase.

The overall job prospects for pet groomers is rated as “good” by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

They project that from 2016 to 2026, the overall employment for animal care and service workers (pet groomers included) will jump by 22 percent.

Employment Growth Projection: 22%

296,400
2016
361,000
2026

That's a higher than average projected growth of 64,600 jobs.

Pet Groomer: Interest Over Time


Should You Become a Pet Groomer?

Overall Satisfaction

Overall Satisfaction: Medium

After reading through all the data, you’re likely heavily considering becoming a dog (or pet) groomer.

You already know that you have the personal skills to handle it, and you relish the idea of gleaning even more knowledge through online courses, in-person apprenticeships, and research.

But as the idea of becoming a pet groomer increasingly becomes more real, it’s important that you’re really asking yourself this question: “should I become a pet groomer?”

Let’s take a final look at some of the highlights to help make your mind up.

Average Salary

Average Salary: Medium

Most people don’t become pet groomers for a high-paying salary, instead, they make their way into the industry because they’re passionate about animals.

The average salary range for a pet groomer in the United States starts with a low point of about $27,391 and reaches a maximum of $41,852.

That being said, some pet groomers have reported making up to $53,000 yearly.

Job Growth Outlook

Job Growth Outlook: High

The good thing about this career?

You have a high ceiling. The BLS states that in the ten years spanning 2016 and 2026, this occupation is expected to grow by about 22 percent due to the ever-growing demand for pet care.

Education Duration

Education Duration: 0-6 Months

No education or certification is required for this career, but if you’re interested in online courses, apprenticeships, or in-person classes, these typically take about 6-10 weeks to complete.

Personal Skills Needed

Personal Skills Needed

When it comes to skills, you’ll learn most of your pet grooming techniques from on-the-job training or from your online courses, but there are personal skills you’ll need to develop as well:

  • patience
  • personability
  • endurance
  • creativity
  • compassion
  • negative and positive feedback methods
  • determination


Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How Much Do Dog Groomers Get Paid?

Dog groomers have a relatively low salary when compared to the national average, and are paid anywhere from $27,391 to about $41,852 annually.

Q. Do You Have to Have a License to Be a Dog Groomer?

You are not required to have a license or certification from the state to be a dog groomer, but being certified, attending an online or in-person course, and having some experience under your belt help.

Q. What Does a Dog Groomer Do?

A dog groomer (or pet groomer) is responsible for learning various techniques for cutting, clipping, bathing, styling, and drying animals.

You will also be required to know when to utilize certain techniques for specific breeds and unique situations.

Q. What Education is Needed to Be a Dog Groomer?

No formal education is required to be a dog groomer.

Q. What is a Dog Groomer Called?

Dog groomers are called pet groomers, pet service workers, animal care service workers, and grooming specialists.


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