Pet groomers are responsible for offering grooming services to domestic pets including dogs, and cats. Groomers work within a variety of settings, including veterinarian’s offices, pet stores, boarding kennels, mobile grooming services, or within self operated businesses. They perform a variety of different tasks which require specialized skills and knowledge learned from work experiences and training.
Pet groomer professionals are responsible for making animals at ease and comforting them within environments unfamiliar to them and also must ensure clean, safe, and sanitary conditions to prevent disease or injury. As many pets scratch or bite, pet groomers are also required to ensure standard precautions are taken to eliminate the potential of harm. Pet groomers also manage the technical aspects of washing, brushing, and shaving a pet as well as cleaning ears, trimming nails, and any other styling requirements. Groomers must also be aware of, understand, retain, and report an animals health conditions and behavior. Groomers often also identify and report pet health issues, like ear or skin infections, to ensure the animal receives proper treatment and veterinary care. Groomers must also possess the managerial skills required to handle the business aspects of their services by having strong communication, clerical, and customer service skills.
There is no standard educational requirement necessary to qualify for employment as a pet groomer though many states and organizations require minimum of a high school diploma or G.E.D. to begin employment. Gaining the knowledge, skills, and abilities to qualify as a pet groomer requires an inherent compassion for animals, specific training available through a number of work experiences and educational programs, and a dedication to the many responsibilities the occupation entails. Many groomers begin employment working as trainees or assistants to more experienced professionals, enter an apprenticeship program, or complete training programs available at professional grooming schools, correspondence schools, or online providers.
High school students interested in establishing a career as a pet groomer may begin to prepare while still in school by completing their diploma or G.E.D. Courses in biology, psychology, physical education, English, and business mathematics assist perspective groomers in gaining the communication and business skills necessary for employment. Many students may volunteer or gain entry level, part time employment within private veterinarian’s offices, kennels, or animal shelters to gain hands on experiences and an increased understanding of the different aspects of pet handling, animal care, and grooming techniques. High school graduates generally advance to apprenticeship programs or courses within formal training programs to expand knowledge necessary for career success.
Informal apprenticeships offer students the ability to learn the basic aspects of pet grooming while working closely under the supervision of a more experienced groomer. Students often begin training within a 6 to 10 week apprenticeship program learning how to keep grooming equipment and areas safe and sanitized. Students begin with basic tasks like shampooing pets and then advance to more complex tasks like properly muzzling or restraining animals, operating grooming equipment, and identifying skin disorders. Students who complete apprenticeship programs often advance to employment as entry level groomers.
Many students expand knowledge through state licensed grooming schools. Most programs are offered through trade and technical schools, correspondence schools, or online programs and last 2 to 18 weeks. Students who participate in grooming school programs gain technical knowledge and augment abilities through courses like: canine and feline anatomy, dog and cat health care, grooming skills for all breeds, equipment care and maintenance, grooming equipment and supplies, brushing and dematting, bathing and dipping, blow (fluff) drying, coat conditioning, ear plucking and cleaning, eye care, anal glands, nail trimming, clipper use and handling, skin types, avoiding clipper/brush burn, setting patterns, clipping with a variety of blade sizes, clipping with blade extenders, hand scissoring, thinning the coat, skin conditions and care, internal and external parasites, ear infections, foot problems, warts, hip and knee cap problems, teeth, nervousness and convulsions, infectious disease, sanitation, special dog care, grooming puppies, grooming the older dogs, handling and control, personal safety, animal personality traits, muzzling, dog bites, tranquilizer facts, business ownership, business planning, zoning regulations, service pricing, management, customer record keeping, advertising and marketing, and establishing a client base. Most grooming courses include the tools required for performing grooming services like brushes, clippers, grooming scissors, combs, and nail trimmers.
Many professional groomer training programs offer students 1,000 hours of instruction and the ability to gain certification through the International Association of Pet Designers. Students prepare with courses like: breed identification, animal body language and behavior, proper identification and use of tools and equipment, accident prevention and safety, CPR and First Aid for animals and humans, salon organization and layout, muzzling for person and pet safety, prepping and bathing, handling and holding techniques, anatomy and range of motion, shave downs, nail trimming, ear hair plucking and cleaning, expressing anal glands, skin problem identification, safe handling and bathing of cats, proper use of air dryers, flea and tick identification and removal, wet shedding techniques, creative coloring, efficiency and speed grooming techniques, client relations, marketing and advertising techniques, time management techniques, establishing a client base, and services pricing.
Pet groomers may qualify for certification through the National Dog Groomers Association of America upon gaining relevant training, demonstrating skills, and successfully completing written examinations.
Groomers who wish to increase knowledge through an associate degree program or higher must continue studies within related field as degree programs in pet grooming do not exist.