Dog grooming is an incredible job for most animal lovers. It’s easy, fulfilling, incredibly fun, and can lead to some quite creative work!
But as with any new side hustle, it’s possible to lose a lot of time, money, and even health with just a few wrong choices.
In this article, we’ll delve into how to become a dog groomer exploring four different methods, startup costs, earning potential, and FAQs about dog grooming.
- An Overview of Dog Grooming: A Primer
- What You’ll Need to Become a Dog Groomer [& Associated Costs]
- Is it Hard to Become a Professional Dog Groomer?
- How to Become a Professional Dog Groomer in Three Simple Steps
- Reasons to Consider Becoming a Professional Dog Groomer
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Similar Gigs to Check Out
- Wrapping Up
An Overview of Dog Grooming: A Primer
Learning how to become a dog groomer is fairly simple. There are lots of dog grooming schools that’ll provide the basic knowledge in two months.
Getting a dog grooming certification from the National Dog Groomers Association is also possible though it’s not required.
Getting started as a groomer doesn’t mean opening up a brick-and-mortar dog grooming business.
Dog groomers work from virtually anywhere, such as in pet stores and clients’ homes. Starting a mobile dog grooming service has also become a popular choice.
How Much Do Professional Dog Groomers Make?
The range of profit a pet groomer can make varies widely. An entry-level pet groomer, especially one that works for a corporate pet store, will likely make an average salary of less than $20 per hour, including tips and extras.
A private pet grooming business could make $50k or more per year. The more populated your area is, the higher demand and the more money a private dog groomer can make.
More specialized dog groomers can make tons more money. It varies incredibly between cities, specializations, and individual businesses.
For example, most mobile dog groomers will likely make less money than a pet salon but will have a lot fewer yearly expenses. Some could make more because they get to visit more areas.
A professional groomer who specializes in specific dog breeds or grooming services for competitions, such as the Westminster dog show, will make the highest income.
What You’ll Need to Become a Dog Groomer [& Associated Costs]
This will depend entirely on the person’s place of residence and level of commitment. Let’s explore what goes into becoming a dog groomer.
1. Licensure and Permits
Most states don’t have specific licenses for groomers but have different permits for the location, such as zoning permits or animal pest management licenses.
The permits and licenses required for a dog grooming business vary greatly between states and even municipalities, so it’s important to check your municipality’s regulations.
2. Grooming Equipment
Cheap grooming tools will cause injury to you and your clients’ dogs which, if nothing else, is a major legal liability.
It’ll also cause a longer and, thus, more tiresome grooming session, which will result in fewer appointments per day and less satisfied customers (and dogs.)
These are the most recommended products for dog groomers. With more experience, more tools will be necessary here and there.
- Pet Clippers: Passable clippers can be as low as $40, but they’ll give worse results and might hurt your wrist over time. A good Andis dog clipper is around $150-200 and it’ll last for years with proper care.
- Scissors Set: A good set costs around $20-40, but you’ll most certainly buy other variations with grooming experience.
- Grooming Table: An adjustable, good size table with an arm to leash the dog will cost around $100. Temporarily DIYing something is an option.
- Brushes and Combs: A good collection of grooming brushes will be less than $50 and should include a de-shedder, different size slicker brushes, and an undercoat comb.
- Nail Clippers: A sturdy nail clipper costs $15-20. Don’t go any cheaper because it won’t be sharp enough or will get dull too quickly.
- Bath: This depends entirely on your location and how serious you are about pet grooming. A professional-grade stainless steel tub with the right accessories can cost over $1,000. You could also set up a bath area in your home for just a few hundred dollars.
- Blow Dryer: An entry-level professional pet blow dryer will start at around $70. One of the best on the market is $300+. Never buy a blow dryer that’s meant for humans or the average pet owner use.
3. Education and Training
There’s no formal training or regulated certification program, so the learning process can start on the job.
With some luck, you might even get paid to do simpler tasks, such as showering dogs or cleaning, and work your way up with time.
4. The Base of Operations
Finally, the trickiest part of starting your own dog grooming business is where it’ll be operating.
The expenses for this side of the business can be just a couple of hundred dollars to set up a corner at home and get the necessary permits or a few thousand to set up a mobile grooming van.
How Much Does It Cost to Become a Professional Dog Groomer?
Expect to pay an absolute minimum of $500 for basic equipment excluding any permit fees and location-related expenses.
Of course, you could pay less, but as we mentioned, it’ll almost always come at a cost.
Is it Hard to Become a Professional Dog Groomer?
The learning curve for dog grooming is steep in the beginning, especially for those who aren’t super familiar with dogs. That goes well beyond loving dogs or being good with the family pet.
That said, it gets straightforward after that starting stage. After initial training, the dog grooming part becomes a breeze. The main challenge becomes physical fatigue and finding good customers.
Just like with dog training, a big part of the job is educating pet owners.
Not all pet owners understand how to set their dogs up for a successful grooming appointment. Not all of them put sufficient effort into proper grooming, training, and familiarizing their pet with being handled by a groomer.
More importantly, most won’t do the dog’s recommended daily/weekly brushing or bring it in for its routine grooming appointment, which makes the groomer’s job immensely harder.
That’s why client communication is one of the biggest and most challenging aspects of the job. It could make or break a dog groomer’s career.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Professional Dog Groomer?
Someone who’s exceptionally comfortable with dogs and understands their body language thoroughly could start doing basic grooming for the less challenging types of dog coats under supervision within three months and will be a proficient dog groomer within a year.
How to Become a Professional Dog Groomer in Three Simple Steps
The steps needed to become a professional and trustworthy dog groomer are straightforward but can be challenging, depending on the area.
Step One: Learning the Trade
There are loads of resources on the topic online, from YouTube tutorials to books and even paid online dog grooming training programs. There are also pet grooming schools, but they can be quite expensive, often costing thousands of dollars.
This might not be a good use of money, especially in an entirely unregulated industry. A dog groomer certification from a pet grooming school essentially has no value other than to establish credibility for potential clients.
Step Two: Get Hands-On Experience
Step one may not be necessary if you get a job for one of the big pet care companies. Corporates that offer pet grooming services, such as PetSmart and Petco, provide training for new employees that often comes with a one-year contract.
The best way to get dog grooming experience, however, is to get on-the-job training at a private grooming shop. Any dog grooming business will hire and train new employees without compensation at first, but they’ll need to see commitment and effort.
Step Three: Find Your Style and Grow
With more experience, a clear preference or style will start emerging, along with a direction to make better money and have much more rewarding clients.
Some of the ways you can be different in this industry include:
- Specializing in particularly challenging breeds like Poodles or Terrier breeds
- Offering workshops for pet owners
- Specializing in pet hair dyes or other creative methods
Reasons to Consider Becoming a Professional Dog Groomer
On top of being super fun and creative, dog grooming is one of the greatest flexible jobs that can be adjusted to fit anyone’s lifestyle.
- High Earning: Private pet groomers can make a high income as they gain experience or specialize in different breeds or methods.
- Flexible Work Hours: Independent dog groomers have total control over the hours they work, especially for someone who does it as a side hustle.
- Forget Office Fever: Being with animals all day can be rewarding and fun, especially compared to the office working environment.
- You Get to Help Animals: On top of helping your doggie clients feel better in their skin, charity events and raising money for shelters become much easier.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Dog Grooming Dangerous?
An aggressive dog may attempt to bite their groomer, but getting bitten isn’t a common occurrence for dog groomers.
Muzzling or lightly sedating them is a good solution for reactive or nervous dogs, and you can turn down difficult dogs.
Do Dog Groomers Need Medical Training?
Not exactly. Dog groomers need to know how to do certain tasks, such as pet CPR, cleaning ears, dealing with skin allergies, and first aid procedures like handling cuts.
Related: How to Become a Medical Scribe
Similar Gigs to Check Out
Becoming a dog groomer can be quite a commitment. A dog groomer has to love dogs and be an excellent communicator and business person.
It’s not for everyone. If it doesn’t seem like the right fit, consider these:
- How to Become a Dog Walker: Walking dogs requires virtually no equipment, money, or much of anything. It doesn’t need the commitment that grooming does but the same patience and undying love for dogs.
- How to Become a Barber: If styling hair is your thing, take it up a notch or two and make considerably more money being a barber.
- How to Become a Babysitter: If you know how to deal with babies and wish to work as a babysitter, check out our guide on how to become one.
It’s easy to figure out how to become a dog groomer, but putting in the work is a different story.
Dog grooming requires a lot of commitment and an abundance of love for dogs. However, it’s one of the most rewarding side hustles for animal lovers!
Let us know if you have more questions in the comments below and please share this post with your fellow dog lovers if you like it.