Pet and dog groomers earn an average wage of $16 USD per hour, but that can rise to $20-$28 depending on the state and where you work. The annual average salary including declared tips is $35K but can go as high as $43K in certain states. For those who desire to be self-employed, you can gross $30 to $90 per groom, but you’ll need to deduct your expenses for either renting retail space or owning/renting a mobile grooming unit.
The market outlook for this industry continues to grow each year with many groomers starting up their own business once they gain enough experience. As for what this entails, and what dog groomers do on a daily basis, outside of making pet looks their best, there’s the general daily tasks and shop maintenance.
As of February 2021, salary.com lists the median earning for a dog groomer at $35,000+ with a typical range between $28,700 and $43,800. Groomers, can also 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 they bring in. According to indeed.com, pet groomer salaries in the United States average $16 per hour with some cities like Raleigh, North Carolina, and Chicago, Illinois paying average rates of $28 and $24 respectively.
Also according to indeed.com, the highest average salaries for dog groomers in the US are found in the state of Vermont (+17%), and Wisconsin (+16%).
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 client visits per month to make a decent 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.
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 that up from $3.2 billion the year previous. This makes it a resilient industry that provides good earning opportunities for individuals in the small-business sector.
The tasks a dog groomer performs during their workday depend on the type of appointments they’ve 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 they work in their own shop, or if they are 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 then bathes the dog 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-hair 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-case scenarios, you’ll have to strongly advise the owner to seek out veterinary assistance.
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. Workstations 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
When looking to start a dog grooming business, there are a few steps you must take to get certified and able to work legally in your state.
- 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, check out PetGroomer.com, their article covers insurance, legal, and tax issues.