There are various ways you may become a pet groomer, but the most common are to attend a grooming school or classes offered by a local trade school, or to apprentice with an experienced groomer. In some cases you may be required to do both. The primary role of the pet groomer is to wash and cut the fur of dogs and sometimes cats, as well as to trim nails, clean the eyes, nose, and ears, and to express canine anal glands.
Many trade schools offer programs that may help you become a pet groomer. These are generally taught by former or current groomers, and many schools have on-site pet salons in which to practice. Oftentimes you will begin the course by reading information about various pet breeds and the type of individual care they need. Once this portion of class is over, you will likely be given the opportunity to practice your skills by offering free or low-priced services through the school. This will allow you to gain firsthand experience in the field.
Often, either through a school or alone, groomers participate in an apprenticeship or internship with a licensed groomer. An apprenticeship is an opportunity to work alongside more experienced workers in an actual business with paying clientele, although many apprentices receive little or no pay until the internship period is over. This is not always the case, as some apprentices are hired as employees. In many cases this route to become a pet groomer requires that you start out as a pet washer or kennel attendant, and move up in rank as you learn new skills.
Most areas require that you become certified in order to become a pet groomer. To do this, you will need to take an exam to show that you have the skills needed to properly care for clients’ pets. You may have a written portion of the test, as well as a portion where you will be given a dog to groom in a specific way.
Although nearly any animal with fur or nails may require grooming, dogs are the most common animal brought into pet styling salons. To succeed in this career, you should be comfortable working with animals that are large in size, as well as able to deal with dogs that may bark, bite, or try to escape during grooming. These behaviors should be taken care of by the owner prior to having the dog groomed, but any scared animal may be prone to aggression or acting out.
Additionally, although dogs are the most commonly groomed animal, there is a large calling for cat groomers. By nature, cats are harder to groom because they typically strongly dislike water, being held down, and having their nails trimmed. Cats do not regularly need to be bathed because they naturally keep themselves clean with constant licking. Many cat owners still prefer to have their pets professionally groomed. Although more challenging than traditional grooming jobs, if you are trained and willing to groom cats and kittens, you may be able to command higher rates and claim most of the business in certain areas.