“Choose a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

You’ve likely heard this old adage a million times, but it’s true – especially when it comes to professional dog groomers. If you love dogs, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have a rich and satisfying career as a dog groomer. With that in mind, we’re going to run through the career outlook for a professional dog groomer to give you a clear sense of what you can expect. There may even be a few surprises along the way!

Read on to find out how to get your career started on the right foot, make the right connections, and what salary you can expect!

Know where to start

You may not know this, but the pet grooming industry is generally unregulated. This means that there is no legal requirement for a pet grooming certification in order to work in the field, and aspiring dog groomers can actually learn skills on the job.

However, we caution against this.

If you’re serious about becoming a successful dog groomer, a dog grooming course is your ticket. Proper techniques and breed standards are just two examples of what you’ll learn in a dog grooming course – you’ll also discover how to deal with accidents and other situations that come your way as a groomer.  You’ll be able to start your career with the theory and skills you need to succeed, not to mention a healthy dose of confidence!

dog grooming course

We don’t mean to stress you out, but choosing the right dog grooming course is a decision that should not be taken lightly. Because this choice is imperative to your career as a groomer, you’ll need to do your research! In-class dog grooming courses are always a good choice, but depending on your lifestyle, they might not be feasible. Look into online dog grooming courses as an option, as they are becoming much more popular among busy professionals who want to become groomers (often as a second career!). Plus, online learning is generally much more affordable.

Some dog grooming courses will also teach you how to start your own business, so if you dream of being your own boss one day, you’ll want to choose training that prepares you properly. Learn some pros and cons of in-class versus online dog grooming courses, and make the right decision for your own career.

What you can expect

It’s no surprise that people love their pets – whether it’s a dog or cat, you know that pet owners will do anything for their furry friends. And this is wonderful news for your career! The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has predicted that job openings for animal caretakers (which includes pet groomers) will increase by about 11% from now until 2024, and they also predict that pet groomers will have strong job opportunities due to more and more households adopting pets. So there you go! This career has a very positive outlook.

When it comes to your own dog grooming career, it will generally take one to two years of honing your skills in order to move to the next level. We recommend working under an expert groomer during this time, as you’ll be able to observe best practices, see how they handle various situations, and get hands-on experience.

QC Pet Studies

Once you have this under your belt, you can really choose for yourself what will come next – mobile dog grooming is an excellent way of taking your skills on the road, building up your clientele, and being your own boss. But if mobile dog grooming isn’t appealing to you, consider becoming a stylist at grooming competitions or dog shows, or a rescue groomer who works in animal shelters.  There are a million ways that you can put your training and experience to use!

Your salary as a professional dog groomer

This article wouldn’t be complete without salary information – after all, your salary will change over the years and you need to know what to expect! Keep in mind that your dog grooming salary is dependent on the type of services you provide, where you work, and your years of experience. Here are three common roles held by groomers, and the average salaries for each:

  • Retail Pet Groomer:

    A retail dog groomer will make an average of about $10 per hour in an entry level position. With experience, a groomer will make about $14 per hour in a retail environment.

  • Freelance Pet Groomer:

    Freelance dog groomers are likely to make close to the national average, which is about $28,000 per year. As a freelance groomer, you can set your own prices to be more competitive and/or based on location. For example, a dog groomer in New York City can have higher earning potential, but will have much more competition than groomers in rural areas.

  • Salon Groomer:

    A dog groomer working in a salon will make approximately $22 per dog, with most groomers working on 5 dogs per day. This means that a groomer working 5 days per week will make about $28,000 per year.

online dog grooming

As you accumulate more and more clients, you’ll be able to choose who you want to work for, and your salary will reflect this change. Here’s a brief outline of how your salary will change over the years:

Years 1-5

Starting out as a professional pet groomer will earn you about $20,000 per year. However, if you have proper training and are a certified groomer, you’re likely to start at a higher wage. While meeting as many people within the industry as you can, take every opportunity to fine-tune your grooming skills through hands-on experience.

Practice on the dogs of your family, friends, and colleagues, and don’t be afraid to offer your services to a local animal shelter. Also, working as a retail groomer is a great choice for those who want to gain experience as they work through a dog grooming course.

Years 5-8

With a few years’ experience as a pet groomer, you’ll be able to start negotiating your own wages and pricing. If you work for a salon, you’ll have the potential to earn more commissions on each dog you groom. Your clients will also be willing to tip more for a groomer who does a good job! For freelance dog groomers, you’ll be able to raise your prices as your skills increase. You’ll also be able to groom more efficiently, giving you more time to groom extra pups.

Years 8+

With more than eight years’ experience as a dog groomer, you’re likely to be in charge of a salon or starting your own business. With the expertise and knowledge you possess as a groomer, you should be able to start hiring your own groomers to train. At this point, you could be earning upwards of $36,000 each year!

Now that you have a better sense of your career outlook as a professional dog groomer, remember to be patient and keep learning! Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you can’t expect a great career to be built any faster. Build your client base, skills, and confidence over time as a dog groomer and you’ll soon find yourself in a rewarding career that you can’t get enough of.

Find out how to establish yourself as a professional dog groomer by joining these 6 grooming associations! 

QC Pet Studies

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