A groomer’s daily duties include bathing and clipping dogs in a variety of breed specific cuts. During this process they will also detangle hair, remove mats, dry the coat, and check for parasites or other skin irritations. Additional duties generally include trimming nails, cleaning ears, cleaning anal sacs, and brushing teeth.
The groomer is responsible for accommodating any special requests of the owner and informing them if any health problems are discovered during the grooming process.
Grooming salons generally require pet owners to provide proof of vaccinations before accepting a dog for an appointment, but anyone working with animals in a hands-on capacity should be careful to minimize the risk of bites and scratches. For more safety tips refer to the article Top 10 Safety Tips for Working with Animals.
Groomers can work in a variety of environments, either as a solo practitioner or as part of a group salon. Large pet stores also offer grooming services and hire a number of staff members. Many grooming salons are joined with a vet clinic or doggy day care for convenience of owners.
Grooming schools usually offer grooming services provided by both students and instructors. This provides a great opportunity for students to watch the professionals in action working on a variety of dogs. It also ensures a steady stream of dogs for the students to practice upon.
There are even opportunities to travel while working as a dog groomer. Some individuals provide a mobile grooming service out of a customized van and travel to their client’s homes for appointments. Other groomers may travel the dog show circuit, providing services for the competitors at major events and trade shows.
Education, Training, and Certification
Experience with a variety of breeds is a plus for the new groomer. Individuals involved in dog showing have an advantage as they are very familiar with the various cuts and styles. The American Kennel Club sets the official standards for breeds and their cuts.
While some groomers begin as a grooming assistant or apprentice and learn entirely on the job, many attend a professional grooming school or certification program. Certification or licensing is not required, however, to go into business as a dog groomer.
Completing the National Dog Groomer’s Association of America exam entitles the graduate to be recognized as a “National Certified Master Groomer.” The exam features extensive written and practical skills tests. NDGAA is billed as the largest pet groomer association and has been around since 1969. Certification costs a few hundred dollars and takes a few days.
A variety of grooming schools also provide training and certification through their programs. Some well known schools include the New York School of Dog Grooming, the American Academy of Pet Grooming, and the Nash Academy. Most states have several grooming school options. Courses can require from 150 to more than 600 hours of practical experience and generally cost several thousand dollars. Completing the courses can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months. There are also a variety of manuals and online courses available that were designed to educate groomers.
Most groomers work on some combination of salary, commission (usually 50% of total price of the grooming), and tips. The amount a groomer charges per dog depends on the breed, type of cut, and time it takes. Salary varies widely based on how many dogs a groomer can finish per day.
Payscale.com references salaries ranging from $11,635 to $60,502. Career Builder’s salary survey lists an average salary of $30,123 while Indeed.com quotes an average salary of $42,000.