How to Become a Dog Groomer

If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that dogs are deserving of our love, care, and attention. They ask for nothing, but give limitless love and affection in return. What could be better than a career helping these precious creatures to look, feel (and smell!) their very best? With nearly 10 million pet dogs in the UK, dog grooming is an increasingly popular and profitable profession, and one in which career satisfaction is high. So, let’s take a closer look at what makes it a rewarding, yet challenging, career.

What is a dog groomer?

A dog groomer is a trained professional who has a range of duties, such as:

  • Shampooing, bathing, and blow-drying dogs’ hair
  • Trimming hair and nails
  • Hygienically cleaning dogs’ ears
  • Maintaining records of pets and clients
  • Stock-checking and re-ordering supplies.
A cute dog being dried with a towel

A key aspect of the grooming process is speaking with a dog’s owner, and discussing their requirements, as well as any medical issues the animal might have. Every dog has a unique coat and a unique temperament, so getting to know an animal before work begins is essential. Professional groomers work in a variety of settings, such as kennels and grooming parlours, whereas some choose to work freelance, providing grooming services in the comfort of a client’s home.

Did you know: Some dogs have fur, and some have hair! Hair tends to be longer than fur, as well as finer and smoother. Fur, however, is denser and shorter, and sheds more easily. Dogs with hair tend to have a single coat, whereas dogs with fur tend to have a double layer coat.

How to become a dog groomer

As well as a love for dogs and a sense of style, dog groomers need to demonstrate their skills and accreditation through qualifications and licenses. Here, we run through a typical path to becoming a dog groomer.

Do you need a qualification to be a dog groomer?

The majority of groomers choose to enter the profession through training courses alongside on-the-job learning, such as our Level 3 Introduction to Dog Grooming Diploma. Courses like this give a detailed insight into the care and attention that different types of dogs need to keep them looking their best. After all, grooming a Bichon Frise requires very different skills to bathing a Great Dane!

As well as teaching occupational skills, our course will give you essential knowledge about salon hygiene, whilst walking you through the necessary steps to opening your own grooming business. Because dealing with difficult animals can be a key part of the job, lots of our aspiring groomers choose to pair their training with courses such as our Dog Health and Behaviour Level 2 Diploma.

Dog groomer accreditation and licensing

Although there are no specific licences that dog groomers require to open a business, completing a respected qualification will instil confidence in employers and customers, as well as gain you an impressive certificate to hang on the wall. You’ll need to be aware of relevant animal welfare legislation, which ensures protection for all animals under human supervision in England and Wales.

As a groomer, you are responsible for the safety of all animals in your care, which means you have to be especially careful when using equipment that may cause injury when used incorrectly, such as hairdryers. You’ll also need to be aware of Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSH) regulations.

What does it take to become a great dog groomer?

Naturally, a love for animals is a must. Stamina and physical fitness are also key, as you’ll be spending hours at a time on your feet, and it takes around one hour to groom each dog, depending on the breed. To find out more, we asked an industry professional to give us some insight into the trickier aspects of the profession.

A dog being groomed in a salon
  • You’ll need the confidence to occasionally say ‘no’ to clients. “At some point in your career, you’ll be faced with a client who wants to dye their poodle’s tail pink, or to shave hearts into their Tibetan Terrier’s coat. It’s fine to say ‘yes’ to these requests if you have the ability and the time, but make sure you feel comfortable saying ‘no’ to the client if you feel that any treatment or style will harm a dog’s mental or physical wellbeing.”
  • You’ll need practise and commitment to develop the skills required for the job.
  • “Just like a hairdresser, developing the skills and knowledge to do a good job takes time and effort. Dogs’ hair is hugely varied, and each breed will require a different shampooing and trimming technique.”
  • You’ll need the ability to understand and empathise with dogs. “A lot of groomers don’t realise that when they’re feeling nervous, the dog will feel nervous too. They are very intuitive animals, and can sense when something doesn’t feel right. It’s important to take the time and effort to make a dog feel safe. Before you cut their nails, for instance, you could give them a reassuring stroke. Their mood is also influenced by the environment they’re in, so some groomers like to spray essential oils to help both themselves and the dogs feel calm.”
  • You’ll need the skills and patience to deal with badly behaved dogs. “Most dogs are wonderful to work with, and with the right reassurance, they enjoy the grooming process. However, occasionally, you’ll encounter a dog that just won’t cooperate. For this reason, it’s very helpful if groomers have some training in dog behaviour, as they’ll know the appropriate techniques to keep a dog under control. If you know a dog has a tendency to behave badly, ask the owner to take them on a long walk before their appointment, or, as a last resort, recommend mobile grooming instead.”

One aspect that puts some people off dog grooming is the fact that it’s far from a glamorous job, as you’ll often be covered in shampoo, soap suds, and mud! Some dogs can be particularly stinky, which can be tough to deal with if you’re sensitive to strong smells.

Dog grooming is a great job for anyone who likes their working day to be varied, and doesn’t mind a job which lacks structure. Unlike working nine-to-five in an office, you might sometimes find yourself working evenings and weekends to accommodate clients. Having excellent attention to detail is also a bonus, as lots of clients can be very particular about the way they like their dog to look, and will notice if your work isn’t up to scratch.

What are the benefits of being a dog groomer?

For dog lovers, the most obvious benefit of becoming a groomer is that you get to spend every day helping the creatures you adore to look and feel better. Aside from this, there are many practical benefits; once you’re trained and confident in your craft, you could set up your own grooming business, choose to work freelance at times to suit you, or even work in a dogs’ rescue home, giving love and attention to the animals that need it most.

A dog having his hair washed at a grooming salon

It’s also an ideal profession for anyone with a busy lifestyle, or who has small children, as many dog grooming salons allow workers to choose whether they work full or part-time. You’ll likely see the same dogs and owners every couple of months or so, which means you’ll get the chance to build some genuine and rewarding relationships.

It’s also a very varied job, unlike any other – no two days are the same, and you never know just what challenges are awaiting you when you turn up to work!

How much do dog groomers make?

If you begin working full time at a grooming salon, you can expect to earn between £13,000 and £20,000 per year, depending on your location. However, your pay will increase if you take on more responsibilities or help to manage the business. For instance, you might begin as an assistant, and progress to become a senior stylist or a salon manager.
If you work freelance, you can set your own rates and boost your income. If you open your own salon, then how much you earn will depend only on your hard work and dedication.

And remember, as you grow your customer base and build an excellent reputation for yourself, you’ll gradually earn more through tipping. Dog owners trust their groomers a great deal, and so they often tip to show gratitude for the care you’ve shown their dogs.

Overall, most dog groomers lead very happy working lives, and achieve great satisfaction from seeing dog owners who are delighted with their hard work and skill. Naturally, becoming a successful groomer takes time, patience, and commitment to the craft, but if you’ve got the passion and determination, there’s nothing holding you back!

If you’d like to take the first step towards a career as a dog groomer, Oxbridge can help you secure the qualifications you need. For more information, head over to our homepage or give one of our experienced course advisers a call on 0121 630 3000.

How much does a dog groomer earn?


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