How to Become a Dog Groomer

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The pet grooming industry in the USA has been growing steadily over the years. This is a sector that is expected to continue growing at an average rate of about 5% over the next few years. (PR Newswire). So, pet grooming is one career path that can be considered a sound choice for those interested in animals, in particular those interested in working with animals. If this is a career that appeals to you, read on to see what it takes to become a dog groomer.

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5 Ways to Become Dog Groomer

You will find that gaining the necessary skills for this career can be quite affordable, compared to many other career paths. This is one occupation that often involves on-the-job training. But it is also an occupation that allows you to progressively improve your skill level by practicing in your own time.

There are several ways that one can become a dog groomer in the USA. Here are some of the more common paths:

1. Professional Groomer Schools

You will find that most major cities will have vocational schools that offers dog grooming programs. These typically provide the knowledge and practical skills required to become a professional pet groomer. Many courses also cover the business side of setting up a dog grooming business.

You can learn all the different aspects of grooming with lots of practical advice and tips. You might also opt to combine dog groomer training courses with a traineeship at a grooming salon to extend your knowledge as you learn.

Grooming schools that are registered to provide such a course generally offer courses anywhere from a few weeks up to 18 weeks in duration.

It is hard to beat, being able to attend school for your groomer training.

However, it is advisable to keep in mind the possible downsides if considering a physical school. For example:

  • It is quite possible that there may not be a school within convenient travelling distance from your home.
  • It could be difficult to adjust your current schedule to fit in with timetabled classes.
  • Face-to-face classes can often be expensive.

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2. A Dog Grooming Apprenticeship

Some groomers learn their trade by applying for an apprenticeship with an experienced groomer. This can be a great way to get hands-on experience and learn the skills needed to groom dogs.

An apprenticeship can vary in length depending on prior skills and the arrangement with your experienced groomer “tutor”. Some apprenticeships typically range from 6 to 10 weeks and require that you are placed with a seasoned groomer who can lead you through the lessons to competency. Student groomers can also elect to attend grooming workshops while learning the grooming ropes and even after they have started practicing, just to brush up on their skills.

At the conclusion of an apprenticeship, the ‘graduate’ can look at applying for a job as an entry-level groomer. In many cases the graduating apprentice might be asked to stay on at the teaching salon.

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3. Dog Grooming Courses Online

There are also online courses available that can teach the basics of dog grooming. These courses may be a good option for those who are unable to attend a vocational school or enrol in an apprenticeship.

Dog grooming courses that you can find online often include written material packed under each lesson as well as groomer demonstrations via videos. They all focus on teaching you how to become a dog groomer; but they also provide tips for the student wishing to start his/her own grooming business.  Most offer a certificate on completion and advice on how to become certified if that is your goal.

The advantages of doing an online pet grooming course that does not involve face-to-face classes include the following:

  • You can work through the material, when you choose, at your own pace.
  • These courses are often cheaper than attending a professional grooming school
  • These courses usually provide detailed business advice needed if setting up your own dog grooming salon.
  • The lessons usually provide very good step-by-step guides to make up for the fact that you are not receiving face-to-face instruction. Manuals are usually accompanied by excellent videos.
  • Most provide a certificate at the end and some of the online colleges provide a diploma.

4. On-the-job Training

Some grooming salons offer on-the-job training for new groomers. This can be a good way to get started in the industry, but it may take longer to learn all the necessary skills.

It’s important to note that some states may have specific requirements for becoming a dog groomer, such as licensing or certification. It’s important to research the requirements in your state before pursuing a career in dog grooming.

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5. Certification Programs

There are several organizations that offer certification programs for dog groomers. These programs typically require a certain number of hours of experience and passing a written exam to become certified.

Certification can be achieved in a number of different ways. For example, the National Dog Groomers Association of America awards certification. Candidates are generally required to complete 2 examinations and to demonstrate their practical competency in grooming.

The National Association of Professional Pet Sitters has offered a home-study certification program. Grooming students typically learn about business management and general animal care in addition to the practical skills. Certification here also requires passing an examination (

One can apply to be an International Certified Master Groomer (ICMG) and be listed with the International Professional Groomers Inc (IPG).

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Licensing Requirements

It’s important to note that some states may have specific requirements for becoming a dog groomer, such as licensing or certification. The legal requirements to become a dog groomer in the USA can vary from state to state. and even from county to county. So, it’s important to research the requirements in your own state before pursuing a career in dog grooming.

In addition, here are some general requirements that may be applicable:

  1. Age requirement: In most states, you must be at least 18 years old to work as a dog groomer.
  2. Education and training: While there are no specific educational requirements to become a dog groomer, many employers prefer candidates who have completed a dog grooming program or apprenticeship.
  3. Licensing and certification: Some states require dog groomers to obtain a license or certification before they can work in the industry. The requirements for licensure or certification can vary from state to state, but may include completing a certain number of training hours, passing a written exam, and/or paying a fee.
  4. Insurance: It is always recommended that dog groomers carry liability insurance to protect themselves in case of accidents or injuries that may occur while grooming a dog.
  5. Business registration: If you plan to operate your own dog grooming business, you will need to register your business.

It’s important to research the specific legal requirements in your state or county before pursuing a career in dog grooming.

Starting Your Dog Grooming Career

Once you have completed your course, you can either work for an existing salon or open your own dog grooming business. If you are thinking of running your own business, there are some factors that you need to take into account first:

  • Make sure you check the licensing requirements in your particular area.
  • Find out if you need a business permit.
  • Investigate the types of insurances you may need, particularly if operating from home.
  • Work out the costs that will be incurred in setting up your new dog grooming salon, whether this be at home or in a shopping center or a mobile unit.
  • Decide whether or not you need a loan to fund your operation.

You might find it useful to read about the different types of dog grooming business models to see how flexible this career can be.

If you are still undecided if this is the career path for you, check out the pros & cons of being a Dog Groomer in the post titled Dog Groomer Career.


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