What does a dog groomer do?
A dog groomer works with all kinds of dogs, carrying out a range of hands-on grooming services to improve their hygiene and overall appearance. They are responsible for keeping a dog’s coat groomed and in good condition by brushing, bathing, drying and clipping the dog’s coat. They also help ensure dog health by cleaning teeth and ears, clipping claws and treating parasites. Essentially, a dog groomer’s job is to make dogs look and smell clean and presentable, and offer dog owners advice on their dogs grooming, diet and coat care.
Quote: “There are many great things about being a dog groomer! I’m able to take my dog with me to work. Another great part are my doggy clients. I work one to one with each dog so I get to know them and what they like/dislike. Each one is very precious to me.” – Teresa Barlow(1)
Skills needed to become a dog groomer
There are a number of different skills you need to become a dog groomer in the UK. You need patience, creativity and most importantly, you must be an animal lover. Other essential skills you need are:
Attention to detail: You will need to pay close attention to detail when grooming a dog. Dog owners will be particular about the grooming style they want to achieve. By paying attention to detail, you will ensure the dog’s neat and tidy appearance and the owners will be happy.
Communication skills: Customer service is a significant aspect of this role. You will have to communicate clearly with the dog owner to learn what services they want their dog to receive. Dog owners are protective over their animals, so clear communication about the steps you are going to take to care for the dog while they are using your service is essential to ensure happy customers.
Multitasking: Many dog groomers are self-employed and running the business on their own. In this case, you will have to multitask and be able to take on a range of different responsibilities, varying from business management and marketing, to pet care and grooming.
Qualifications required to become a dog groomer
Whilst you do not require a formal qualification to become a dog groomer, the work is intricate and detail-oriented. Both salons and customers will want to see proof of experience or qualifications to demonstrate your competence in the job. Prospective dog groomers can obtain a qualification in dog grooming(2) by completing an apprenticeship or by taking a college course in dog grooming. Examples of college courses you can take are:
- Level 2 Certificate for Dog Grooming Assistants
- Level 3 Diploma in Dog Grooming
- Level 4 Higher Professional Diploma in Dog Grooming
Steps to become a dog groomer
Be an animal lover
To be a dog groomer, it is important that you have a love for animals. Dog grooming is not a glamorous job so you really need to have a passion for dogs and enjoy being around other people’s pets.
Study a professional accredited course or apprenticeship
Although a qualification is not required for this type of role, it will enhance your employability and prove your competency in carrying out the role. Specialist dog grooming courses in the UK are accredited by the Pet Industry Federation(3) (PIF). By completing one of these courses, you will acquire the confidence and training you need to become a capable dog groomer, which will also put more confidence in your customers. Alternatively, you can complete a dog grooming apprenticeship. This will enable you to learn on the job from an established dog grooming salon.
Get some experience
On completion of a dog grooming course, you will be ready to get some hands-on experience and work alongside other experienced dog groomers. Be prepared to be flexible as you get to know every aspect of running a salon; from understanding the behaviour of different dog breeds and their nutritional needs, to knowing which specific health problems to watch out for. With experience, you will gain confidence as a dog groomer.
Salary of a dog groomer
The average starting salary of a dog groomer is £13,000, while experienced dog groomers have an average salary(4) of £20,000 – £25,000. If you choose to go down the self-employed route, you can set your own prices on dog treatments. Prices typically vary depending on the size of the dog, conditions of their coat, and where your business is located.
Where do dog groomers work?
Dog groomers have a range of options when it comes to deciding where they want to work. You can become employed by a pet chain or independent salon, or you can branch out and start your own dog grooming business. Perhaps you want to be flexible in location and set up a business in a mobile converted van or maybe you want to transform your garage into a luxury dog spa — the choice is yours!
What’s the working environment like for a dog groomer?
Dog groomers employed by salons typically work 35 hours a week from Monday – Saturday, while self-employed dog groomers typically work longer hours. Dog groomers wear protective clothing such as gloves to protect their skin from the products they use. The work within this role can be physically demanding, especially with larger dog breeds so confidence in handling and comforting dogs is essential.
Are there career progression opportunities with dog grooming?
You may choose to work in a grooming facility such as a pet shop, garden centre or kennel and progress within your role. Alternatively, you can become self-employed where the world will be your oyster. Dog grooming is continuing to increase in demand, so there are strong opportunities for growth in this industry.