Pet Grooming Training Programs and Requirements

Pet groomers bathe, style, brush and maintain the appearance of dogs and cats. Most pet groomers work in grooming salons, pet retail stores, kennels or animal health clinics. Pet groomers typically enter the field through an apprenticeship with an experience groomer, but short-term pet grooming programs are also available. Certification for pet groomers is voluntary and demonstrates industry knowledge and experience.

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Training Requirements and Recommendations

Pet groomers must have a high school diploma or equivalent. To prepare for a pet grooming career, new groomers can enter a grooming apprenticeship or enroll in a state-approved dog grooming school. Groomers typically choose an apprenticeship in order to gain practical knowledge and hands-on experience. Apprenticeships last one year and allow groomers to work under the close supervision of a more experienced groomer.

Pet groomers should be able to safely handle and transport animals, provide appearance care and successfully communicate with animal owners. They must have strong customer service and clerical skills in order to answer phones, schedule appointments and relay important animal health information to clients. Above all, pet groomers should have a passion for working with animals.

Formal Education

Pet groomers must have a high school diploma or GED. There is no standard formal education for pet groomers; most groomers participate in a year-long apprenticeship under the supervision of a highly experienced groomer. However, there are 50 state-approved dog grooming schools that offer programs lasting from two weeks to several months. Most employers base hiring decisions on grooming experience rather than formal education.

Pet Grooming Apprenticeship

Most apprenticeships last one year and allow beginning groomers to work directly with experienced groomers. New groomers are taught how to safely handle pets; brush, trim, bathe and style animal coats; clip nails and provide other maintenance services. The experience gained in an apprenticeship allows groomers to obtain entry-level employment after completing the apprenticeship.

Job Experience

Pet groomers are typically required to have 1-3 years of grooming experience. Entry-level careers are available for beginning groomers who have one year of experience through an apprenticeship. Some employers may also provide on-the-job training programs for newly hired groomers with minimal professional experience.

Licenses and Certifications

There are no licenses for pet groomers. Certification from the National Dog Grooming Association of America (NDGAA) is voluntary and demonstrates overall proficiency in dog grooming, maintenance and animal safety. Employers do not usually require certification, though it may be preferred.

National Dog Grooming Association of America Certification

The NDGAA certification is available for both members and non-members of NDGAA. Groomers must participate in a training workshop, demonstrate practical grooming skills and pass two exams to obtain certification. To pass the practical skills section of the certification program, groomers must bring a dog and their own grooming supplies to a designated NDGAA grooming center. The organization provides study materials and test-taking information.

Workshops and Seminars

Employers, vocational and technical schools may offer 1- or 2-day workshops on different aspects of pet grooming. Some workshops focus on one specific breed of animal or general animal health and wellness topics. On-the-job training programs offered by employers often include workshops that must be passed before groomers can work on clients' pets.

The NDGAA offers training workshops each month. Workshops are held in different cities around the country and teach groomers how to successfully groom, style and maintain the appearance of dogs. These workshops may be taken as part of the association's certification process. In addition, the NDGAA holds annual seminars, competitions and grooming trade shows, where hour-long training sessions and other workshops may be available.

Professional Development

The NDGAA offers professional resources for dog groomers and pet grooming business owners. The association provides legal, financial and business advice through its publication Groomers Voice, which is published three times a year. Members can also take advantage of insurance and health-related resources for self-employed groomers.

Pet groomers with many years of experience and industry certification can open their own pet grooming businesses. Groomers can provide mobile grooming services or work from a salon or grooming center. Pet groomers employed by large retail companies can also seek advancement to supervisory positions within the grooming department.

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