An animal groomer maintains or improves the physical appearance of people’s pets. Most of the time, you will be grooming dogs. There are also pet owners who bring in their cats to get a little salon treatment, too.
One common task you can expect to do is to cut or trim fur and if needed, style it, such as the fur-fashion sported by pet poodles. You are also expected to give these pets a full bath, clip or file their nails and clean their ears. Some long-haired dog breeds, like the shih tzu, may get their furs matted especially if they are not combed regularly. Thus, it is your job to untangle their coats by combing, brushing and cutting. If you notice health issues that the animals may be facing, such as a skin disease, you inform the pet owner right away so that they can bring their pets to the vet for proper assessment and medication.
You will use tools like combs, grooming shears, blow driers and clippers to do your job. You need to sanitize them before using them on an animal to prevent the transfer of germs and diseases from one pet to another. You’ll also be selling grooming products to pet owners so they can also care for their pets at home.
In order to do your job well, you must absolutely love pets. When you do, you will be more compassionate in handling them and will be treating them well. You should also be physically fit since you will be on your feet for long periods of time when grooming the animals. Patience is also important in this job as there will be dogs that don’t like being bathed or their fur combed and their nails clipped. You also need to possess excellent customer service skills since you are running a business. If you want repeat visits and recommendations from your customers, you need to provide the best service.
Why Become An Animal Groomer
One reason to become an animal groomer is that you truly love pets. You’ll have the chance to really provide first hand care to dogs and cats. Another reason to become an animal groomer is that it doesn’t require a lot of education to get employed. Those who simply want to earn extra income will find this a good part-time gig as well. For those animal lovers who have an entrepreneurial streak, working as a pet groomer provides solid training for their own dog care business later on.
Animal Groomer Work Environment
Animal groomers are typically employed by kennels, pet supply stores and veterinary clinics. Those who operate their own animal grooming business may travel to the client’s home to care for their pets. A mobile grooming service is less stressful for the animal because it is not placed in an unfamiliar environment. Those who run their own businesses may also do other administrative tasks like hiring personnel, training them and ordering supplies.
Like other animal care and service workers, animal groomers may experience injuries and illnesses on the job. They may encounter aggressive animals or docile ones may snap bite if improper handling of grooming tools can hurt them. This is minimized by following the establishment’s procedures for handling animals and keeping them properly restrained during the entire procedure.
Animal Groomer Salary
The May 2013 Occupational Employment and Wages report of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the mean annual wage of animal care and service workers, animal groomers included, is $23,060. Animal trainers earned $31,030 while nonfarm animal caretakers were paid $22,510.
The agency reported in 2012 the highest paid nonfarm animal caretakers earned over $32,500 while the lowest earning received less than $16,490. An estimated 25 percent of animal care and service workers were self-employed in that year.
Animal Groomer Career Outlook
The prospects for employment are good for animal care and service workers in general. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted that for the ten-year period covering 2012 to 2022, the job rate is expected to increase 15 percent, a rate that is much faster than the average for all occupations. From the $232,100 employed in 2012, their number is expected to grow to 267,500 in 2022.
There is going to be high demand for mobile grooming services since pet owners find these convenient. Those who barely have time to care for their pets because of their very busy schedules rely on animal groomers to care for their pets.
Animal Groomer Degree
Like most animal care and service positions, no formal schooling is required to become an animal groomer. However, a high school diploma or its equivalent is often preferred by many employers. Attending a grooming school licensed by the state will also increase one’s chances of getting hired. The school and the number of skills taught will dictate how long the program will last.
A lot of pet groomers learn on the job. They work under an experienced groomer who teach them basic tasks and then work up to advanced skills as they get more experience. Certification is not mandatory but is encouraged because it enables workers to prove that they know how to do a particular task and as a result would make them more desirable to potential employers. A certification of master status as a groomer can be obtained from the National Dog Groomers Association of America.
It helps to have experience with animals before applying for animal care and service positions such as that of a groomer since this is often required by many employers. This enables aspiring groomers to understand and handle animals more effectively. Volunteering and interning at zoos and animal shelters will help achieve this.