Learn a trade – earn a living from you passion
Learn a trade – earn a living from you passion

If you are reading this, it is probably a safe bet that you love animals, and you want to make a career out of caring for them. Perhaps you have thought of becoming a veterinarian, but you can’t stand the idea of euthanizing animals, or you just don’t want to spend years in school. You just want to work with animals, and that’s fine. You could become a pet groomer!

Why Should I Become a Pet Groomer?

These days, everyone is pampering their pets. One of the reasons for that is we have an aging population – the kids have fled the nest, and what’s left? The pets. Pet pampering is a big business. Just look around you – pet supply stores are in every shopping mall, and every online store. Pet pampering is huge business, and if you love being hands-on with pets, then you are a great candidate to become a pet groomer.

Opportunities

Many pets simply require bathing, clipping and hair trimming. You could do that as a mobile groomer, or you could open up a shop. The opportunities are definitely out there – billions of dollars are actually spent on pet grooming in any given year, and it is unlikely that the trend will bottom out any time soon.

Qualifications

If you want to become a pet groomer, the most important qualification is, of course, that you genuinely love animals. You also have to have a fair bit of patients with pets, as well as with their humans. Pet grooming is also very physical – you are going to have to lift animals, and handle them even when they are being difficult.

You are also going to have to decide if you have a “cut off” point. Just as an example, don’t put up a sign on your shop that says “All animals welcome” if you don’t really mean it. You’ll get a lot of bad word-of-mouth if you do really well with small breeds of animals, but back off when someone brings in a Rottweiler or an English Mastiff. In short, don’t let your mouth write a check that your body can’t cash.

This probably sounds obvious, but if you have allergies, forget it. Seriously, there has been more than one person who has said, “I’m going to be a pet groomer,” and then found out that they couldn’t handle cat hair.

Training

Some people are just gifted when it comes to dealing with animals, and in most states, you don’t need any special schooling to become a pet groomer. Most groomers, in fact, rely on apprenticeships or self-training to learn the skills necessary to become a pet groomer. However, if you want to have credibility in the field, professional certification can go a long way.

You can learn how to become a pet groomer at community colleges, and you can also take courses online or by correspondence. Many of these courses will lead to certification. You’ll learn about bathing, combing, brushing, drying, cutting hair, using the proper grooming supplies, identifying and treating skin disorders, and more.

Licensing

Some states will require you to obtain a license in order to administer tick and flea treatments. Your municipality may also require certain permits and licenses, even if you are grooming out of your home.

Insurance

Never even think that you can work as a pet groomer without insurance. The reason for this is simply stated – stuff happens. You could end up accidentally injuring an animal, and then you can imagine how their human is going to react. There is liability insurance available that is specifically geared toward pet grooming operations, so make sure that you get the right coverage.

Becoming a Pet Groomer

Setting Up

To get started in the pet grooming business, you will need the following:

  • Grooming table
  • Tub with shower attachment
  • Manual and electric scissors, shears and clippers
  • Cages
  • Dryers
  • Shampoos and conditioners
  • Combs and brushes
  • Harnesses
  • De-matting tools
  • Muzzles
  • Ramps and/or steps
  • Storage shelves
  • Grooming cart
  • Clipper vacuum
  • Bows and ribbons

You can use all these supplies in a shop, or in a mobile service that you will take to your clients’ homes. You might even consider setting up a self-serve grooming station, where people can use your facility to groom their pet themselves.

Types of Customers

Most of your customers will likely be dogs, and unless you specify that you are willing to handle large animals, most of them will likely be small dogs. However, you might also be expected to cater to cats, especially the long-haired variety. And increasingly, people are seeking grooming services for rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets, and other small animals.

A well-groomed beautiful Shi Tzu dog sitting on a trainee pet groomer's table. The dog wears a cute pink vest.

The point here is that Americans are becoming more and more pet-centric, and that means that there are more and more opportunities for people who want to work with animals. Pet grooming is a booming industry, and if you want to become a pet groomer, you can do it with or without formal training.  Of course, the more training you have, the more in demand you will be.

A Word of Caution

Pet grooming can be a highly rewarding career. Unfortunately, during the course of your work, you will encounter situations that can cause you a lot of stress. You will almost certainly have to deal from time to time with neurotic little animals and their neurotic big owners. You may also encounter situations where pets have been neglected and the owner thinks that a visit to a groomer is going to fix a horrible skin condition or crippling, overgrown nails. There may be times when you see pets in a condition that breaks your heart. And you will also, from time to time, almost certainly have to deal with jerks.

Do what you can. Help when you can. Be good to the animals, and be good to yourself. Pet grooming is often less a job than it is a calling – you’re in it because you love animals. So take the good (and most of it is good) along with the bad, and love what you do.

Have you thought about becoming a pet groomer? What about being a pet groomer appeals to you most?

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