For many people, becoming a dog groomer is something they choose to do as soon as they discover their passion for animals and pet care. For others, the choice comes later on after other career paths and years of consideration.
The beautiful thing about grooming is that it’s never too early or too late to begin learning professional techniques. As long as you can stay calm and patient around potentially rowdy animals, be considerate to the animals’ dispositions, have a critical eye for detail, and remain willing to learn, you’ll be prepared to take the first steps toward professional pet grooming at any age.
“Am I too young to become a dog groomer?”
When it comes to learning basic grooming techniques and building a good foundation for professional training, you are never too young!
Any person with a passion for caring for pets should begin practicing whenever they can. In fact, the younger you start learning professional techniques, the more time you have to improve and explore your skills.
It’s true that many dog grooming programs or schools require you to be at least 18 years old to enroll. There are some, however, that understand how the passion for pet grooming can start at a young age. Some programs accept students as young as 16, as long as a parent or legal guardian is willing to sign a consent form giving them permission to enroll.
In most places, dog grooming is an unregulated industry. States and provinces that do require licensing, however, also require you to be at least 18 years old to take the test. Remember that this doesn’t mean you can’t train earlier and gain experience until you’re old enough to be licensed.
If your local area doesn’t permit training or licensing until you’re 18, don’t be discouraged! Use online resources to help you begin practicing, or at least thinking about, basic skills. Google dog grooming blogs or vlogs and read grooming magazines to introduce yourself to current trends, grooming techniques, or even just to familiarize yourself with a variety of dogs. Use reputable resources as a research guide!
The best thing you can do is practice. You can even build a small portfolio to present to the programs you apply to later. You might not be paid for grooming your family beagle or your best friend’s poodle, but they make great practice if your friends and relatives are willing to let you groom their pets. The more experience you have before training, the higher your chances of being accepted into the program of your choice when you’re old enough.
“Am I too old to become a dog groomer?”
As long as you’re passionate about grooming and willing to learn new things, you are never too old to become a dog groomer! In fact, many groomers start their careers after years of working in other industries, raising children, or debating whether they’re ready to commit.
For some, a later start is actually beneficial because they’ve already achieved goals and reached personal or professional milestones. Many older groomers are prepared to devote their full attention to dog grooming. They’ve also had a chance to gain relevant life experience that might make them attractive candidates for training programs and potential clients.
Dog grooming programs, schools, and licensing boards have no age limit for seeking professional training or becoming certified. As long as you’re able to complete the physical tasks required in the grooming process, you can begin training as a groomer!
Getting your first clients
No matter what age you are when you begin your dog grooming career, attracting your first clients can be intimidating. You can make it easier by knowing where your target market lies, which can be influenced by your age.
In the public’s eye, an older dog groomer might appear knowledgeable and experienced. To some, an older grooming professional is basically an expert pet-whisperer! This doesn’t mean that younger groomers can’t be these things too, though. It simply means that older groomers might have better luck targeting cautious dog owners as potential clients.
On the other hand, some families have dogs that grow up with the children. An especially young child who absolutely loves her dog might identify more with someone young and closer to her age. Or a young professional who’s just adopted her first dog might also gravitate towards a pet groomer close to her own age.
Identifying your target market is a crucial step to building a client base in any business. Dog groomers are no exception. Don’t restrict who you’ll work with simply because of your age, but keep in mind which groups might be most keen to work with you. Who will identify with your experiences and style? Don’t let yourself stress over whether or not you’re too young or too old to find clients. Instead, use your age to your advantage and market yourself to clients who will value your life experiences!
Regardless of your age, pursuing your passion for grooming is worth the time and effort. You should never be discouraged by other people questioning whether you are too old or too young to become a dog groomer. Professional grooming is the type of industry where you are constantly learning and growing, no matter your age or experience level. If you have the dedication to develop your skills from basic to advanced, then you have the potential to excel at any point.
Are you thinking of becoming a groomer but are worried your age will get in your way? Let us know your thoughts in a comment!
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Casey Bechard of Off The Leash Pet Grooming is a QC Pet Studies graduate. Read all about her favorite breeds and pet haircuts as a certified groomer!