How to Become a Pet Groomer

9 minutes • 7 August 2021

Good pet grooming isn’t just for show dogs and fancy cats.

There are many benefits to regular pet grooming, not least of which is helping the animal feel good.

For any pet owner, regular grooming can not only enhance the animal’s appearance but improve health and disposition.

Pets just look better when their fur is neatly cut and styled, especially certain breeds that tend to shed or grow hair rapidly. Healthy coats do not shed as much. Dogs and cats will also feel more comfortable during hot summer months when they’ve had a good trim. Nail clipping reduces damage to furniture and floors, but just as important it also reduces the risk of an animal developing bone deformities or bad posture.

Pet groomer washing a dog in a bath tub

Better hygiene and a nicer smell are additional benefits of pet grooming. A good scrubbing and shampoo gets rid of body odor, as well as dead skin, dirt and oils that can contribute to pet smells.

While groomers work on a pet they can be on the alert for the presence of ticks and fleas. Regular bathing and hair cutting will help prevent these annoying and potentially dangerous insects from harming a pet.

Because groomers are trained in working with different dog and cat breeds, they are also in a position to notice any unusual growths or skin changes on the animal. Early detection and treatment can prevent many illnesses.

All of these benefits that come with pet grooming can be easily adapted into your marketing efforts as a professional groomer. Help people understand that grooming is not a luxury but an essential part of pet care will ensure you have steady business for years to come.

If you love animals and enjoy helping them feel good while improving their overall health, a career as a pet groomer may just be your calling. Read on to discover what’s involved in becoming a professional pet groomer.

In this article you’ll learn:

  • How much money you can make as a pet groomer
  • The required training and certifications
  • Professional groups to join
  • Employment opportunities for pet groomers
  • Finding clients
  • Plus helpful tips

How much money can you make?

Pet groomers average $16 an hour, according to a recent survey of groomers by ZipRecruiter. Some pet groomers may set their fees for specific services, such as cutting and shaping fur, trimming nails, shampoos, brushing and more. A skilled groomer working steadily can care for 6-7 pets a day. At $16 an hour, a pet groomer can expect to earn an average salary of $30,720 a year.

Pet groomer combing small, white dog's coat

Training and Certification

You could, if you wish, start a pet grooming business this week. All you absolutely need is a business license to operate a company in your state as well as any local permits governing animal care services. But to attract customers and impress potential employers, you’ll need professional certification as a pet groomer and that will involve training. A high school diploma or GED is also expected.

Training programs can run from as little as 2 weeks to 4 or 5 months, with costs starting at around $300. This is usually followed by an apprenticeship working under a professional pet groomer for 2-3 months.

Wet dog that was just washed looking at camera

Some of what you’ll learn in a training program for pet grooming:

  • Haircutting techniques using both scissor and electric clippers
  • Nail clipping
  • Efficient bathing and shampooing
  • Fur styling
  • An overview of different breeds of dogs and cats to better understand their temperaments
  • How to keep animals calm and comfortable while grooming them
  • Basic business skills associated with running a pet grooming business

Look for a training program endorsed by either the National Dog Groomers Association of America or International Professional Groomers Inc. Both are widely recognized in the industry and a certification approved by either of these organizations can open many doors for you in pet grooming.

Here is an extensive listing of pet groomer schools and training programs for you to review. All contact information for each school or program is included.

Professional Groups to Join

Show your customers and potential employers you are dedicated to your career by joining a professional group. These affiliations look great on your resume and website. You can also frame and display membership certificates at your pet grooming facility. In addition to the promotional value, professional memberships enable you to network with others in your field, exchange ideas and share job leads.

The National Dog Groomers Association of America works with groomers to promote professionalism and education in order to upgrade the image of the pet grooming profession. Their goal is to unite groomers, encourage communication with colleagues, set grooming standards and to offer groomers seeking a higher level of professional recognition the opportunity to have their skills certified.

Close up of a recently groomed coat of a dog

Annual membership is $40 and comes with many benefits, including access to liability insurance at group rates, your business listing on the association’s online directory (helps customers find you), continuing education programs, a newsletter and more.

International Professional Groomers Inc. educates, certifies and accredits professional pet groomers and caretakers. Groomers and pet care workers with membership who complete annual continuing education and follow the “IPG Code of Ethics” can maintain their certifications and educational endorsements. Annual membership is $97.

You can also consider joining any of dozens of informal networking groups where professional groomers meet online to discuss the industry, share styling tips and techniques, and enjoy being part of a group that shares their passion. You can review many of these groups in this comprehensive list.

Employment

You’ll find jobs for pet groomers at pet-care centers, both national chains and independently owned facilities, as well as large veterinary practices that offer grooming on-site. Make copies of your resume and professional credentials in advance so you’ll have them ready.

Also check online job-search services like Indeed and ZipRecruiter. You can set up notifications on these sites to receive email alerts about openings that match your location.

Finding Clients

To succeed as a pet groomer you need steady business. Grooming one or two animals a week is not going to cover your expenses, much less produce a profit.

In a perfect world, you’ll get repeat customers and new people making grooming appointments for their pets. This will help you stay busy.

To begin, you’ll need business cards and a website for marketing your boarding services. Your website should include pictures of your facility and staff working with different pets, a list of the services you provide, as well as your location and contact information, which must be clearly visible at the top of every page on your site. The upper right-hand corner is a good spot for your location, phone number and email, but wherever you display this information it must be in the same place on every page. Search engines scan this information to match your website geographically with people searching for pet boarding.

Pet groomer washing a puppy in a bath tub

Other ways to grow your business:

Attend pet shows

This is where you will find the perfect gathering of potential customers – people showing off their pets. Many of these individuals may already be working with a groomer, but go to shows anyway. You can make friends, circulate your business cards and alert your target market to your availability.

Veterinarian Referrals

Contact local veterinarians and cultivate friendly business relationships with them. Dog owners routinely ask their vets about other pet needs, including grooming. A vet’s referral is gold.

Partner with Local Shelters or SPCA

This immediately gets your business in front of people who are adopting pets. Your partnership can be as simple as dropping off advertising flyers and business cards at the local shelter or SPCA. Volunteering for an hour or two each month can build goodwill.

Partner with Independent Pet Stores

Small business owners know that their success often depends on working cooperatively with other service providers in the community. Concentrate on pet stores that sell organic animal food, specialty chew toys and other pricey items that tend to attract more affluent customers. These are more often people with disposable income who lead busy lives and have the money to pay for professional pet grooming.

Dog looking up with a towel draped over itself

Good to know

Marketing a pet grooming business doesn’t need to take up all or even most of your time – even when you’re just getting started.

Follow the tips above to be proactive in attracting clients, but also set up your online presence right away. A professional website cross-linked with social media pages can be advertising for you around the clock, driving customers to your door. Consider these strategies for connecting with customers who need pet grooming:

Post photos on Instagram of your grooming facility and pets receiving beauty services. Instagram is the #1 online venue for small business owners to showcase their services. A dedicated business page on Instagram is always promoting your business.

Pet groomer using a shower head to wash a dog

Now create a Facebook business page. This is a proven technique for building a following. You can provide tips and helpful information about pet grooming, while running promotions for your business.

Next, set up a Google My Business page. You can list hours of operation, more photos of your grooming facility and a map of your location. There’s also a space for people to post reviews of your grooming services, so you should ask happy customers to write about you on your Google page.

Setting up a business presence on each of these sites will take no more than an hour. All of them are free and work 24/7 to promote your company. That frees up more of your time to focus on grooming pets.

If you enjoyed this article, check out some more great PocketSuite.io content that can help you grow your career as a pet groomer. Here’s a great place to start.PocketSuite has thousands of business owners who all started where you are right now. Our community is always happy to help you ramp up, grow your client base, and achieve your income goals, both within the PocketSuite app and as part of our exclusive Facebook Community Group. PocketSuite’s vision is for any professional to be able to work for themselves and make a great living. It starts here. It starts with you. It starts today. Let’s get started, download PocketSuite now! Feel free to reach out with any questions (we’d love to hear from you)! Text us @ (415) 841-2300.