Career Start Report – Page 10

Setting a Grooming Career Path

Unlike many professions, pet grooming has an extraordinary number of grooming career paths. Here is a list of the most common career paths:


You can find grooming employment opportunities in:

  • Grooming shops and salons
  • Grooming departments within
    • Boarding facilities
    • Veterinarian clinics
    • Pet daycare facilities
    • Retail pet superstores, small and large, such as PETCO, PetSmart
    • Pet boutiques


Consider these paths as the owner of a:

  • Grooming shop or salon in a commercial location
  • Mobile grooming business (van, truck, or trailer conversion)
  • Home-based grooming business (in the home of the groomer)
  • House-call grooming business (in the home of pet owners and without a mobile conversion vehicle)
  • Rent a table or workstation in a grooming shop or salon
  • Rent or lease an equipped grooming department within:
    • Boarding facility
    • Veterinarian clinic
    • Pet daycare facility
    • Self-serve pet wash
    • Independently-owned retail store

Differences Between Employment and Self-Employment

Both paths require grooming training. Entering the industry immediately, self-employed usually require prior fee-based training. However, some career seekers purchase businesses, arrange for the seller to stay on board for several weeks, and train them to groom. We don’t endorse this route compared to attending a fee-based grooming school. It could be problematic and involve risk if sellers change their minds and depart early. Sometimes buyers ask sellers to stay on as employed groomers that they can also fall back upon as an advisor improving existing skills.

Here is a list of the chief differences between employment and self-employment:


  • Startup investment capital required
  • Control over the standards of quality, safety, and art of grooming
  • Potential to grow a large business earning higher income compared to employment
  • Longer working hours and many additional business management responsibilities
  • Long-term commitments are generally required in various aspects of the operation
  • Increased tax reporting and licensure
  • Liability protection required
  • No employer-provided benefits (similar benefits may be acquired by and for the owner)


  • Generally set working days and hours
  • No after-work responsibilities related to business management
  • Income caps possible
  • Standards of operation for design and pet care set by employers
  • Employee benefits may be provided (paid time off, 401K, health and life insurance, etc.)
  • Most career seekers don’t realize how many different directions you can go with a career in pet grooming.

We could write pages on the pros and cons of each path. What’s more important right now is the good news. Successful pet groomers are on every path listed above; some have invented new paths!

There are a surprising number of career paths in pet grooming. Don’t make quick decisions. Study the diverse opportunities. Remember, not every groomer you meet has had experience with all of these career paths. We have. It’s our job as professional consultants with over 3,000 clients worldwide and 25,000 readers purchasing our books. Some groomers have strict opinions on career paths, and they may be right. At the same time, how do they explain why so many diverse opportunities have existed for many years? Change abounds in pet grooming. We’re not vocationally licensed. There are no common standards of performance outside of voluntary certification by grooming associations. Listen to all opinions, but don’t make quick decisions. Learn all you can first.

Without adopted standards for education and experiential requirements set for any career paths in grooming, you will be exposed to many theories. Take this course, get certified here, you don’t need to do that, etc. Look for role models willing to work with you and in whose performance you are inspired. We strongly recommend collecting notable books & videos by champion groomers. Since 2005 they have come onto the market like a storm. You can check them out at this site under the Education category or in the Classified Ads. In the material, we will also suggest models for your grooming training as a beginner.

Regardless of credentials, talk and listen to fellow groomers sharing their experiences, but keep an open mind no matter how persuasive they may be. We’re a field moving ever closer to adopted professional standards, and that leads to commonly agreed-upon career paths in the world of grooming pets.

Employed groomers and self-employed groomers are very different people. Nearly all home-based and mobile groomers you meet will be self-employed. Their worlds are very different from the groomers in commercial locations.

Everyone shares only one common thread; we groom pets for pet owners. Celebrate the diversity of grooming. By the time you gain your initial grooming education, you are likely to know the right path for you. Well, at least the first one!

Communicate with pet groomers actively participating in our GroomerTALK Community℠ at Our community looks forward to helping career seekers 24/7/365.

Learn about employment opportunities by visiting the updated Help Wanted Ads daily. You can even submit free job search or apprenticeship ads.

If you are considering self-employment, review the ads in the Business for Sale or Lease and Mobile Grooming sections of the Classified Ads.

Publications regarding self-employment are available on our website dedicated to the “business side” of pet grooming, Grooming Business in a Box®.

The biggest task lies ahead. It’s your education. Never underestimate the knowledge of a professional pet groomer. The stereotypical perception of the public for pet grooming far underrates the amount of training and skill required to become a professional pet groomer.

Your initial education may be as little as a few hundred hours of school or home study. After your initial education, you should be ready for entry-level employment in a full-charge position. However, it can take 1 to 3 more years of regular experience to become quite competent and productive. In fact, some groomers say it takes more continuing education too.

Plan now to supplement your initial education continually! At present, the available books and DVDs have never been more complete. We can say this to you with great joy and pride in our industry. Create a budget where you can afford to attend at least one seminar or workshop each year. You will be a better groomer for it.

Certification by a recognized pet groomer association is voluntary. It requires commitment. The additional training will be intense and fun, right? You earn the respect you deserve by achieving your certification. For now, put this to the side. It should be in your long-term career plan, but your initial education is a major decision. What education do you require to become employed and perhaps self-employed? What alternatives are there? Which education matches the career path of your choice? These are good but complicated questions to answer.

There are so many types of educational opportunities we devoted an entire chapter to them. Once we learn more about them, we can match educational opportunities to several employment and self-employment career paths. It is time to learn more about educational opportunities.

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