How to Become a Dog Groomer Step-By-Step
If you’re reading this article, it’s probably because you absolutely LOVE dogs and want to know how to become a dog groomer professionally. Luckily, you’ve come to the right place!
I’m willing to bet that you have a ton of questions about this new, exciting career path. If so, then look no further, because we’ve answered ALL of them for you in this article.
Let’s dive in, shall we?
What Qualifications Do You Need to Become a Dog Groomer?
The short answer to this question is: it depends on where you live. Some cities, States, provinces, etc. will require you to have professional certification training in order to work in licensed salons. Other areas might not require anything other than a high school diploma.
But the longer answer – and I cannot stress this enough – is that despite this, proper training is always a MUST in this field of work!
Think about it: you’ll be handling a living, breathing creature. Moreover, you’ll need to work with sharp tools and use them on these animals. If you don’t actually know what you’re doing, things can not only go wrong quickly – they can become downright dangerous.
Furthermore, your clients are going to expect you to be trained. For the vast majority of them, their dogs are their family. As such, they’ll only want to book with groomers that can truly TRUST to take proper care of their pet. If you aren’t trained, you’ll be passed over more often than not.
For these reasons, we’re of the strong opinion that professional dog groomers need to be properly educated and certified in order to work. Luckily, more and more cities are getting with the program and making this mandatory. Hopefully, one day it’ll be like that everywhere!
How Do You Train to Be a Dog Groomer?
There are 2 popular options for how an aspiring groomer can gain the necessary training needed to work professionally. The first is to do an apprenticeship or on-the-job training. Here, you would shadow an experienced groomer for a period of time; learning the ropes with the help of your mentor.
Alternately, some salons provide training from the ground up. This way, they can get you to the salon’s standards by the time you finish your training. In this scenario, you’d likely be learning the specific techniques and standards set within that particular establishment.
The second is to complete an accredited dog grooming certification course. These days, there are countless options for how you can pursue this education. In-person training is definitely an option, but so is online schooling. We’ll cover this more a little later in the article!
Technically, there’s also a third option (if you so choose), which is to do BOTH. By all means, you can complete a professional course and follow that up by completing an apprenticeship, too. This route is by no means mandatory. But hey, nothing wrong with being a powerhouse by the time you start working solo, right?
How Long Does it Take to Become a Dog Groomer?
The amount of time it’ll take to start working as a dog groomer depends on where and how you obtain your professional training.
If you choose to apprentice with an experienced groomer/mentor, your training can last approx. 6-10 weeks. Sometimes, depending on the salon, your apprenticeship can take anywhere from 12-18 months to complete. If you’re hired by a salon and they provide in-house training, this can last for several months, on average.
Should you decide to pursue a professional certification course (which is the path we most recommend), your training duration will depend on the institution. Some schools offer programs that take only a handful of weeks to complete, while others can take upwards of a year.
Keep in mind, though, that when it comes to your training, it’s important NOT to cut any corners. Just because you’re eager to get started as a dog groomer doesn’t mean you should automatically run to a course that’s only a few weeks long.
After all, will you be honestly be able to learn the same amount of skills and knowledge in just a few weeks, compared to what you’d learn in a year’s time? If this is the career path you really want to pursue for the long-term, you should be passionate about learning things the right way.
This means taking the necessary time needed to properly hone your craft. Only then can you truly call yourself a grooming master!
Did you know that QC Pet Studies’ online training takes, on average, 9-12 months to complete? However, since our Dog Grooming Course is 100% self-paced, you can complete your studies on YOUR time and graduate in as little or as much time as you need!
What are The Disadvantages of Being a Dog Groomer?
Look, I’ll be real with you: if the idea of working with dogs on a daily basis appeals to you, then you’ll find no greater joy than pursuing a career as a dog groomer.
But that doesn’t mean it’s an easy job.
On the contrary, being a groomer can be incredibly demanding. You’ll work long hours and be on your feet for the majority of them. By the time your shifts end, your feet will probably be pretty sore (so, a nice, hot bath at the end of the day will feel like heaven for you).
There are also occupational hazards and safety risks to consider, too – both for you and the dogs.
Occupation Hazards for Dog Groomers
Some clients will be bringing in nervous, anxious, or stressed-out dogs. Especially if it’s their first time being alone with you, these types of dogs could go on the defense and feel like they need to protect themselves.
This is basically my gentle way of saying that while bites and scratches won’t be a regular part of your day, they could happen once in a blue moon. Chances are, it’ll happen at least once – or, if nothing else, an attempt by the dog will be made. So, you need to be prepared for this, both physically and emotionally.
There’s also your bodily health to keep in mind. Groomer’s lung, for example, is a very real thing. This is particularly a potential risk if your grooming career spans over a lengthy period of time, and if the proper precautions are not taken on your part.
(Don’t let this freak you out, though. It’s super easy to take the right safety measures – such as wearing a face mask and cleaning your work station regularly – and prevent groomer’s lung from ever affecting you.)
Occupational Hazards for Dogs
In a grooming environment, there’s a LOT that can go wrong if you aren’t adequately prepared. Again, this all circles back to why proper training as a groomer is so critical.
Potential hazards can range anywhere from mild, minor incidents (e.g. an accidental cut or knick while clipping them), to more extreme emergencies (e.g. accidental self-hanging on the grooming table).
Not to sound dramatic or anything, but when clients are leaving their dogs in your hands, you’re quite literally responsible for their lives for as long as they’re in your care. By getting a proper education, you’ll know how to keep them safe at all times. If an emergency happens, you’ll be equipped to handle it accordingly.
If you’re not trained, however… Well, we don’t even want to think about what could potentially happen in the event of an occupational hazard.
So, now that you know what it takes to be a dog groomer, how can you actually start your career as a dog groomer?
These 6 steps to walk you through the process!
Step One: Learn EVERYTHING You Can About Dog Grooming
Because you’re reading this article, you’ve already started Step One – hooray! From here, keep absorbing as much as you possibly can about the industry, as well as the ins and outs of professional grooming.
Here are some suggestions for how you can do more research about the dog grooming world:
Read grooming articles and publications;Watch grooming videos (there are TONS on YouTube and TikTok, for example);Find groomers on social media whose work you admire, follow them, and see how they run their businesses;Use Google to see what the most relevant search inquiries are for those in your area who are looking for dog grooming services;To build off this, conduct some Google research to get a better idea of what the demand for groomers is like where you live;Check out the other groomers in your area (a.k.a. your local competition) and learn more about their businesses, target clientele, etc.;Start brainstorming the kind of career YOU want for yourself (i.e. do you want to work for a salon? Start your own business? If the latter, what do you want your business to look like? Etc.).
Step Two: Get Certified as a Professional Dog Groomer
Okay, now it’s time to decide whether you want to pursue your professional training online or through a brick-and-mortar school. When making this choice, it’s important to keep in mind a few key things…
In-Person Grooming School
On average, brick-and-mortar dog grooming courses can take anywhere from a couple months to a year to finish. The obvious pro of in-person schooling is that you’ll be surrounded by your fellow peers, as well as your instructor.
However, there are also some cons to consider as well. For example, you’ll have to pay a much higher tuition rate for a much less personalized learning environment.
Furthermore, you’ll have no choice but to work at everyone else’s pace. If the course is 18 months long in total, you won’t be able to graduate any sooner than that. Not to mention, you’ll be expected to abide by the strict schedule the school sets for you. This means you’ll never have the flexibility to miss a class!
Online Grooming School
On the other hand, distance learning (a.k.a. online learning) has become the preferred method of education over recent years. This has especially been the case over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Why?
First, your tuition will be a lot more affordable and suitable for any budget. This is because there’s no physical campus or building to maintain. Second, because it’s just you and your tutor, you’re guaranteed a customized learning experienced that’s tailored specifically for YOU, your needs, and your career goals.
Additionally, the right online dog grooming course – such as the one offered by QC Pet Studies – will be 100% self-paced, as I mentioned earlier. As a result, you’ll never have to commit to deadlines or the need to travel. Yes, this means that you can become a dog groomer while you sit on the couch in your jammies!
(Although, when the time comes for your hands-on training, you might want to change. Up to you, though!)
QC Pet Studies’ Dog Grooming Course
QC Pet Studies‘ Dog Grooming Course is 5-part course that you can complete in as little as 9-12 months. This program provides textbook learning, instructional videos, quizzes, and more hands-on training than you could shake a stick at.
If I tried to list everything you’ll learn in this course, we’d be here all day! However, here’s a condensed list to give you an idea of the skills you’ll acquire:
Fundamental concepts of dog grooming;Health and safety;Basic dog anatomy;Skincare issues;Canine behavior;Prep work;How to execute a groom from start to finish;Breed standards and how to work on dogs of various breeds;How to launch your very own grooming business and find long-term success in the industry;And SO much more!
Once you graduate, you’ll walk away with an internationally-recognized International Dog Grooming Professional (IDGP) certification AND designation that you can proudly add to your resume.
And we guarantee, all of your future clients and/or employers will be completely impressed by this accreditation!
Want to hear what graduates of QC Pet Studies have had to say about our Dog Grooming Course? Check out their Features here on our blog!
What to Expect as a Student of QC Pet Studies
Once enrolled, QC Pet Studies gives you a full 2 years to finish your dog grooming training. But remember, our online learning environment is 100% self-paced! Thus, you can choose how much (or how little) of that time you’ll actually need in order to graduate.
As a frame of reference, many of our alumni found that they were able to graduate in as little as 9-12 months by simply dedicating 1-2 hours per week on their courses. But if you’re able to commit more time per week to your training, you could very well graduate even sooner than that!
Within 1-2 days of enrolling in your course, you’ll receive the login details for QC’s Online Student Center. From here, you’ll have access to all of your digital course textbooks, instructional videos, quizzes, assignments, and more. Now, if you’re someone who prefers having physical course materials to learn from, don’t worry – QC will mail those out to you, too! You’ll receive them within 1-2 weeks.
Oh, and since our Dog Grooming Course comes with a FREE starter grooming kit, we’ll also deliver that to you at no extra charge, too!
Another perk of QC Pet Studies’ dog groomer training is that your tutor is a real-world industry expert with years of experience. After you submit each unit, your assigned tutor will rigorously review your work with a fine-toothed comb. Then they’ll submit your grades, as well as thorough audio feedback. You’ll be able to use this feedback to better recognize where your current strengths and weaknesses are!
If all of this weren’t already awesome enough, we also offer a 21-Day Money-Back Guarantee! You can learn more about this here. Basically, we want to make the decision to pursue the career of your dreams as simple and pain-free for you as possible!
Step Three: Get Certified in Pet First Aid and CPR
By now, it’s no secret that knowing First Aid for dogs is just as important for your career as knowing how to groom. After all, you’ll need to be prepared for anything and everything that can go wrong during an appointment. First Aid training makes all the difference between a good groomer and an exceptional one.
This is exactly why, when you enroll in QC’s Dog Grooming Course, we encourage you to obtain First Aid and CPR skills… at NO additional cost! That’s right: when you take our Dog Grooming Course, we also throw in our First Aid Course absolutely FREE!
In this 2-unit program, you’ll learn all about:
Building your First Aid kit;Setting up a safe and functional workspace;Correctly assessing a dog’s health and checking vitals;Preventing injuries, accidents, bites, scratches, and more;Properly responding to emergency situations;When to recommend veterinary care;Assessing the severity of a wound;The steps involved in creating an emergency plan;Performing CPR and rescue breathing techniques;Artificial respiration;How to help a choking dog;Wound care;Handling dehydration, heatstroke, heart attacks, seizures, cysts, parasites, burns, bruises, etc.And more!
The best part? Once you complete this course, you’ll earn an internationally-certified First Aid for Groomers certificate!
Not only will this additional training increase your overall confidence in your abilities – it’ll assure your clients all the more that their dog is being looked after by the best of the best!
Want to learn even more about our First Aid Course? QC Pet Studies’ student, Camille Torkornoo, reveals 3 of the most IMPORTANT skills you’ll acquire from this program!
Step Four: Practice, Practice, Practice!
If you want to know how to work as a dog groomer, here’s one of the most important tips I can give you: all of the textbook knowledge in the world won’t matter if you don’t ultimately know how to apply it in real life.
This is one of those jobs where hands-on training is fundamental. Understanding how to groom a dog in theory is completely different than legitimately doing it on a living, breathing dog. For this reason, you should get as much real-world exposure as humanly possible before you begin booking paying clients!
The good news is, your certification course will get your foot in the door. As part of your assignments, you’ll be tasked with finding different dogs of different breeds and sizes to groom. From there, don’t be afraid to maximize your personal network.
How many friends and/or family members do you know who have dogs? These are ALL people who might potentially be willing to let you practice your newfound skill-set on their pooches! Other ways to gain practice can also include:
Practice what you’ve learned on your own dog(s), if applicable;Offering complimentary grooming services at the start of your career;Volunteering your expertise at dog shelters, charity events, etc.;Taking part in a pro bono photoshoot, in which you groom a dog for free in exchange for high-quality images you can use in your professional portfolio;Joining local, relevant groups on social media and proposing your services for other members to see, etc.
Step Five: Get On The Job Dog Grooming Training
Remember earlier, when I mentioned that you can absolutely do an apprenticeship after completing your certification training? Here’s why this would be a smart career move:
There’s never a downside to learning from someone who’s been in this industry long enough to earn their stripes. Yes, your dog grooming course will teach you all you need to know to launch a lucrative career. But there’s no way you’ll begin your career already knowing everything.
For this reason, shadowing a mentor and being taken under their wing (or paw, if you appreciate good puns) can be the very thing that takes your professional training and kicks it up another notch! Entering the professional world can be a bit daunting at first. But when you do so under the watchful eye of a seasoned expert, the whole experience can be a lot easier to navigate.
So, do some digging and reach out to different groomers in your area. There’s no harm in asking whether they’d be willing to bring on an apprentice and show you the ropes. So long as you approach the matter in a humble, professional way, you might very well be surprised by the positive response you get in return!
Whether you want to join an existing grooming team of launch a business of your very own, the experience and insight you’ll gain from an apprenticeship will DRASTICALLY increase your likelihood of achieving success in the long run.
Step Six: Network and Ask for Referrals!
Networking will be your BEST FRIEND as you become a dog groomer – especially at the beginning of your career, while you’re still an unknown name. The grooming industry is a pretty tight-knit community. As such, it won’t take long for you to meet and/or become acquainted with other groomers in your area, as well as dog walkers, doggy daycares, pet stores, dog owners, etc.
These are ALL people and/or businesses that can potentially help you gain clientele!
Now, you might be thinking, “But wait, why would I become friends with other dog groomers? Aren’t they my competition?”
Yes… But that definitely does NOT this mean they aren’t also allies. Your grooming career will be much better off if you establish positive connections with others in the community (even your competitors) than if you tried to go at things solo.
After all, through networking, you’ll be increasing your chances of getting referrals. Dog walkers can refer you to their clients; as can pet stores, daycare owners, etc. Even other groomers can potentially send customers your way, if their own schedules are completely booked. The important thing here is that they need to trust that you’d do the same for them, if the shoe were ever on the other foot.
In the end, you’ll have a longer, more fruitful career if you maximize genuine networking opportunities with as many people as possible.
Ready to begin the career you’ve always wanted? Enroll with QC Pet Studies today and become a dog groomer in less than a year!
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