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Animal Groomer: Education Requirements and Career Information

Animal groomers enjoy working with pets and their owners. They may also be interested in owning their own business or becoming involved in purebred animal shows. Associate's degree and diploma programs, as well as apprenticeships, can help prepare individuals for an animal grooming career.

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Career Information for Animal Groomers

An expert at bathing pets, animal groomers also style them to look appealing and help maintain their hygiene. Most groomers work with dogs and cats in a salon environment where owners bring their pet, although mobile pet-grooming services - where groomers bathe and style animals at the owner's place of residence - are becoming increasingly common. Other places that offer animal grooming services include veterinary clinics, animal shelters and pet supply stores.

Groomers wash and dry animals in addition to de-matting, brushing and trimming their hair. They trim nails, clean ears and inspect skin for signs of disease or parasites. Animal groomers know how to properly handle an animal and use humane restraining techniques if the animal becomes aggressive or nervous. Some dog groomers specialize in preparing show dogs for competition; these groomers must be aware of grooming standards and specific styles for each breed of purebred dog.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

In 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported an average hourly wage of $10.82, or $22,510 per year, for nonfarm animal caretakers, including groomers. The BLS also projected 15% employment growth for nonfarm animal caretakers in general from 2012-2022.

Animal Groomer Education Requirements

Most grooming jobs require candidates to have at least a high school diploma or GED equivalency. In addition, those interested in becoming animal groomers can attend either a formal education program in pet grooming or an informal apprenticeship under an experienced groomer to learn the skills of the trade. Apprenticeships usually last a month or two and start trainees on one aspect of grooming, slowly introducing new steps until the student is ready to learn clipping and styling of animals.

A certificate or diploma program in animal grooming teaches students how to use the profession's necessary tools. Students also take classes on dog and cat anatomy, grooming and bathing techniques, basic animal handling skills and dog breed groups. Some colleges offer associate's degree programs in animal care, which include expanded course options covering small and large animal care, animal behavior and small business management.

Certification Options

Though not required, animal groomers can seek voluntary certification, especially if they want to work in the purebred animal show industry. The National Dog Groomers Association of America (NDGAA) offers certification as a national master groomer (www.nationaldoggroomers.com). Certification candidates qualify after taking at least one NDGAA-accredited workshop. Exams consist of a written portion and practical demonstration of skills; only certain cities and NDGAA events offer certification testing.

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