According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a dog groomer falls into the category of a “non-farm animal care and service worker.” While grooming is at the upper end of the scale by comparison to kennel attendants who clean out animal cages, it is comparable with work such as pet sitting, dog training, and veterinary assistance because it requires some form of training or ideally, certification.
Dog Groomer Salary
As of May 2008, the BLS lists the median earnings for non-farm animal care and service worker as between $16,720 and $24,300 per year for the middle 50 percent. Groomers, however, usually earn additional money in the form of tips from satisfied clients. A groomer who works on commission only will typically keep 50 to 60 percent of the money he brings in. According to Glassdoor.com, groomer salaries at companies such as PetSmart and PetCo range from $8 to $12 per hour, with a grooming assistant making $7 an hour.
The BLS does not have data available on self-employed pet care business owners but states that a self-employed groomer needs between 150 and 200 animals per month to make a living. With prices ranging from $30 to $90 depending on the dog’s size, this calculates to an income of around $10,000 a month, before operating costs and salaries.
Workers in this industry in My 2010 earned the highest salaries in the state of New York, with a mean wage of $11.54 per hour. By comparison, workers in Texas only earned $9.99 per hour, and the national median estimate by the BLS is $9.40 per hour, with 135,070 workers in the industry nationwide.
The American Pet Products Association (americanpetproducts.org) considers the pet care industry “recession-proof,” and its statistics support this. The APPA predicted expenditure of $3.65 billion on services for 2011, up from $3.2 billion in 2008. This makes it a resilient industry that provides good earning opportunities for individuals in the small-business sector.
What Does A Dog Groomer Do
The tasks a dog groomer performs during his workday depends on the type of appointments he has scheduled. The many different breeds of dogs require different grooming methods, so the groomer must be knowledgeable about the different styles of cuts and the techniques used to achieve them. The groomer’s workday will also depend on whether he works in his own shop, or if he is employed by a larger groomer or even a pet supply chain store that offers on-site grooming.
Most of the workday will be spent grooming dogs. Some dogs will need to be shampooed, combed, blow dried and styled. Long-haired dogs may arrive with mats and tangles. The groomer has to spend time detangling the dog’s hair before it can have a bath. The groomer gives the dog a bath by using overhead hoses to spray the dog down, shampoo it and rinse it.
Pet owners prefer their dogs to be clipped in certain styles, so the groomer must talk with the dog owner to figure out which style is preferred. Each long-haired breed has a specific style of cut. The groomer must know how to accomplish the cut. Sometimes the groomer will refer to a book on pet styling to help out if she is uncertain.
Short haired breeds are less work, as they usually only require a shampoo and a small amount of trimming. Pet owners may have requested that the dog’s rear end be shaved, both for cleanliness and health issues. Naturally, dogs can become squirmy when this is done and another groomer may have to help hold the anxious pet still.
Nail clipping can either be a massive battle for the groomer or can be a calm and smooth experience. It may take two groomers working together to trim the nails of a, particularly unwilling dog. Groomers must know how to calmly restrain the dog while the other groomer does the clipping. Part of the groomer’s daily duties will be reassuring dogs in a soothing calming tone. The groomer must not become angry or impatient with the dog.
During bathing, the groomer needs to be on the lookout for any flea infestations or skin conditions that the pet owner should be told about. If the pet has fleas or skin irritation, the groomer may decide to use a shampoo specifically for the condition. In worst cases she will advise the owners to see the vet.
Much like beauticians, pet groomers are required to clean their area after each client. A large hairy dog may leave a massive amount of hair that must be swept up and disposed of. Work stations must be wiped down and disinfected after each dog. The groomer may also be responsible for customer service. In this case, he will accept payment, run the register, and answer phones to make appointments. If the shop sells dog accessories such as shampoos and conditioners, the groomer will assist the dog owners in finding the items they want to purchase for home use.
Laundry may also be on the list of duties. If the shop uses towels to dry the dogs, the groomer will see that these are kept washed, dried, folded, and stored. The large aprons worn during baths will either be washed and dried or bundled up to send out to a service.
Some groomers are expected to do book work during their workday. This may include computer work, ordering supplies or even logging in new inventory.
The groomer’s workday can be calm or completely crazy, depending on which pets are scheduled for grooming. If the groomer accepts walk-in clients, she may have a surprising day, as she will have no idea how new pets will react. A few groomers may refuse unruly pets, then they must explain to the upset owner why their dog isn’t groomed.
How To Start A Dog Grooming Business
- Consult with official resources at your county and state level about legal regulations of dog groomers. For instance, find out if you may operate a dog grooming business at home and if you’ll need a certification to groom dogs.
- Find a state-licensed dog grooming school in your area. Most dog grooming programs last between one to six months. Completing a training program can be a valuable marketing resource.
- Visit the National Dog Groomers Association of America website. They offer written and skill tests, which, when passed, can lead to certifications. An application is available on the Association website.
- Go to Dogwise.com and search for “Dog Grooming.” They provide information on resources about the technical aspects of grooming specific dog breeds and guides to the business side of running a dog grooming business.
- Get insurance. Any business requires insurance and for information on the specific insurance needs of dog groomers, go to PetGroomer.com, click on “Research” at the top menu an then select “Legal and Insurance” from the side menu.