If you’ve clicked on this article, chances are, you’re probably looking into a career in dog grooming. It takes more than just a passion for dogs to succeed in this career. You’ll need to learn the ins-and-outs of working with dogs, proper grooming technique, and pet first-aid to respond to emergency situations. You can learn all this through apprenticing or school, but do you need a license to top it all off?

The short answer is no! You don’t need a dog grooming license to be a freelance groomer. In fact, we’re not sure what a “dog grooming license” is… there isn’t a state regulating board for this profession! But convincing people that you’re a pro when you don’t have accreditation of any kind is tough. You’d be surprised what an official document stating that you’ve completed professional training can do. So what exactly DO you need to work as a freelance groomer? Read on to find out!

dog in a bath during your professional grooming training

Your Training

Whether you’re a freelancer or you work as part of a larger grooming company, you’ll need to get your training somewhere. You can choose to apprentice after an establish groomer or you can take a grooming course.  The one you choose will depend on what’s available to you.

Finding a groomer to shadow and apprentice can be difficult if you don’t live near other groomers. Even more disheartening is if all the groomers are already training other aspiring groomers and don’t have the time or resources to take you on. Where can you turn to? You can look into your local colleges for dog grooming courses.

You’ll receive a well-rounded education and learn the theory behind the technique. However, not everyone lives in urban areas near colleges or can afford the multi-semester programs. There is one more option if you’re serious about professional training. You can take an online dog grooming course! Online schools offer the same education as brick-and-mortar institutions. The difference is that your tuition isn’t going towards campus and building upkeep—why spend more when you don’t have to? Some schools are better than others, so make sure you do your research!

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bathing a dog in a bubble bath

Certificate vs. License

You don’t technically need any sort of formal or professional training at all to become a dog groomer. You can just wake up one day and decide to jump right into it. The trouble is, would you be able to convince loving pet owners that they can trust you to take care of their dog? And, would they pay you to do it?

Your best bet, whether you apprentice or take a course, is to join an association and take a certification exam when your training is complete. Taking these certification exams are completely optional. So, you ask, why bother?

You’ll join thousands of groomers who’ve taken these standardized assessments. If you pass with flying colors, you know that your skills in grooming are on par with the groomers in your city, state, or even country. You’ll receive a confidence boost in knowing that you have all the necessary skills to groom dogs at a professional level. That shiny new certificate dignifying your skill doesn’t hurt either!

dog smiling upwards

Preparing for a Certification Exam

Certification exams aren’t designed to be easy. You really need to know your stuff if you’re going to be paying a fee to take an exam. With those two training methods we’ve mentioned, ensure you’re receiving a well-rounded education. If you’re apprenticing, you may just encounter a small variety of dogs because of the demographics of the area. It wouldn’t hurt to take a comprehensive course so you know that you have all the information you need to succeed.

Look for courses that prepare you for the exam. The National Dog Grooming Association of America (NDGAA) as well as the Canadian Professional Pet Stylists (CPPS) associations offer standardized exams to certify members. Their exams cover a wide range of topics so that those who pass can operate safe, ethical, and professional businesses in the field of pet grooming.

Studying for a certification exam with NDGAA

Freelance Dog Grooming

You can become a dog groomer out of your home, a salon, or even your own van. The beauty of this profession is that you have many different options with how you want to do business. Becoming a freelance dog groomer allows you to choose your clients, choose how often you work, and choose where you want to go.

As a freelancer, you may choose to work with a salon on a part-time basis—whenever there’s work, you go! If you’re working in such conditions, you won’t need a facility license (if one applies). This is because you aren’t the business owner who owns or leases out the space. You just work within it. That doesn’t mean that you don’t need any license at all, however!

For most careers where formal training isn’t required, you still need to acquire a business license. This license doesn’t apply to your skills or knowhow when it comes to dog grooming itself. Instead, this license allows you to become a business owner and allows you to operate a business in your local area. Make sure you research the relevant permits and licenses your state or city requires.

Are you up to date with your training and certifications?

Check out QC’s favorite dog grooming assignments for a peak into what you can expect to learn in the dog grooming course.

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