Thinking About Becoming a Dog Groomer?

Everything You Want to Know from a 35-Year Certified Professional

Training, Certification, Earning Potential, Benefits, Pros & Cons

by amy elizabeth
Retired N.D.G.A.A. Certified Professional Pet Stylist

First of all, I prefer Pet Stylist, since today’s grooming industry frequently includes a cat clientele.  Grooming cats is usually not a mandatory skill required for employment, but it definitely is a bonus on your resume and your paycheck.
Job Training Options
There are Pet Grooming Trade Schools all across the Nation, some are accredited, some not.  Some with financial aid, most without. The course varies in length, 16 weeks is the overall average.  Expect hands-on training, breed study, handling techniques, terminology, and the basic grooming tools of a professional Pet Stylist. After training, you will still need to work closely with experienced groomers and continue training for at least two years. Tuition for these schools is usually $7,500+.
Learning to groom at a pet salon as an apprentice is also a common way to learn. For instance, Petsmart offers a training program. However, fair warning, there are going to be a few hoops to jump through for the opportunity. Is it worth it? In my opinion, yes. If you’re willing to learn, and the groomers are talented, you will acquire the skill level of a professional pet stylist over time.
Pet Salons often use bathers, what a great way to get your foot in the door and a clipper in your hand.
Are Groomers Licensed?
There are no laws in place requiring a Pet Stylist to be licensed. However, there are optional certification test sites across the U.S. where a stylist can earn the prestigious title of Certified Master Groomer. This is highly recommended after five years of field training.  These credentials most definitely are an asset in the job force, often earning a 10% pay increase.
How Much Money Can a Pet Stylist Earn?
The question is, how much money do you want to earn? Groomers work on commission,  never salary. The average commission rate is 50% of the grooming charge. However, certified or veteran groomers are often paid 60%. Grooming is a service, therefore tipping is customary. Tips can vary greatly, but on average, they are between $5. and $10 per pet.
* Commission workers are not independent contractors, taxes are deducted from payroll earnings.
A seasoned groomer can groom a dog in about an hour and fifteen minutes from start to finish.  Some pets require less time, others more. But no matter how you slice or dice it, at the end of the day, it all averages out to one dog an hour.
The average base price of grooming a dog is between $55. & $75.
The average base price of grooming a cat is between $65. & $80.
Earning potential: Depends on how many dogs you groom on average. $35,000 – $50,000 is approx. annually.
* base price means no extra charges for special services.
It is customary for pet stylists to maintain their tools and provide their grooming products, but shampoo, etc, are supplied by the salon.
Are There Benefits?
Yes and no, more no than yes. Large companies such as Petsmart, Petco, and some veterinary hospitals offer benefits to full-time employees only. That means you will put in your time, even if when you haven’t any grooming appointments. Independent pet salons such as the ones you see in shopping centers rarely offer insurance, paid vacation, or sick days.  There are certainly drawbacks to both,  but you do have the option to choose freedom and flexibility – or the corporate ball and chain.
Pros & Cons of the Job
Let’s begin with the positive side of becoming a Pet Stylist.
Having the ability to control your financial earnings.
Minimal schooling to learn a trade that pays well.
Flexible work schedules.
Jobs are easy to find, anywhere.
Employment opportunities offer choices: mobile vans, veterinary hospitals, boarding facilities, and pet salons.
Starting your own business isn’t out of reach.
Whether or Not There is a Negative Side Only You Can Decide
This career is definitely not for everybody, and this is why…
You will need the patience of a saint, working with animals can be extremely frustrating.
Not all pets are willing to stand quiet for grooming and are often aggressive.
You will be pooped on, peed on, and no matter what precautions you take, occasionally bit.
You will be under constant pressure to finish each appointment on time.
This is a DIRTY job. Expect to be covered in dog hair, dander, drool, and who knows what else.
It is your job to rid dogs of fleas and ticks using product, then picking off all the ticks with tweezers.
This is back-breaking, strenuous hard work where heavy lifting is an everyday occurrence.
Before you decide to put your money, time, and effort into learning any new trade, it’s important to ask yourself one very important question. Is it the right job for you? I hope I’ve given you all the facts to help you make that decision. If you’re still interested in becoming a Professional Pet Stylist, then you truly have the special qualities that will provide both personal and financial rewards.

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