Before you march down a career path into the grooming industry you must make vitally important decisions which will affect your entire career. The all important question for career seekers entering the industry is, “What is your plan for grooming education?” Our best assistance is to share the common options.
There are no commonly adopted standards for pet grooming education. Hairstylists (for people) enter their field knowing requirements for education, examinations and experience. Not so for pet grooming career seekers. They can enter the grooming industry without clocking a single hour of training or passing exams. Now isn’t that a precarious prospect for pet owners?
Some career seekers take the easiest path. They need a job quickly and accept minimal education. That’s understandable. It’s important they don’t forget continuing education opportunities online, onsite at seminars and workshops and home study material such as DVDs and streaming media such as Learn2GroomDogs.com. Other career seekers secure the best educational opportunities beforehand and plan on more continuing education. Most career seekers fall somewhere between these two extremes.
What’s important for you to know now is this, every career seeker requires continuing education for years ahead. Therefore you have immediate need for educational opportunities to get started, and several years of continuing to achieve the level of excellence you demand for yourself and the owners and pets you serve.
Cost is certainly a factor when choosing an educational path. Unfortunately, the cost of education leads many career seekers to acquire inadequate education taking the shortest program possible. It often shows. Experienced pet groomers watching you groom can easily decipher how much education and experience you have behind you.
Pet grooming school tuition may sound expensive, and without cash or credit, seem all the more expensive. However, let’s be fair and accurate. “Expensive” is not the correct word to use when the cost is out of your reach. Most programs cost about $8 to $20 an hour and last 600 or less hours. In fairness, compare the cost of a grooming education to the cost of a 4 year college education. Wow! Your initial grooming education is reasonable! Consider this amazing fact. Many graduates of college earn far less income than skilled groomers too! We’re not done with this comparison yet. You also didn’t invest 4 years of your time, you can be out of school in 2 to 4 months and earning an income!
Grooming Schools Are Not “Expensive”
How many other professions can offer you $1 million gross incomes over a 20 year period for an $8,000 grooming school education and about “one semester” of your time compared to college? Not many. Certainly tuition may be out of reach, and financial aid is then your solution. Some schools offer financial aid. It may be from a private arrangement or associated with government programs. Ask schools about their financial aid opportunities.
Here is another interesting experience to share with you. Veterinarians have contacted our PetGroomer.com consultants about hiring groomers for the first time. Their alarm was obvious. They didn’t know how to explain to veterinary school graduates that their groomer employees were going to be earning higher wages.
If you don’t go to school you may find an apprenticeship. Most apprenticeships cost you nothing; you may need to provide your own toolkit. Your biggest investment is time, and every experienced groomer knows that time is money. An apprenticeship may take years. Compare that to a school education over within weeks.
There are risks with apprenticeships. Just as there no commonly adopted formats for educating pet groomers by state licensed schools, there is even less formalization with apprenticeships. Your apprenticeship is only as good as the groomer teaching you. We’ve known hundreds of groomers that did apprentice, and some worked for us after they apprenticed elsewhere. Most needed plenty of correction and more continuing education before they met our standards. Apprenticeship is a viable route, but you must realize there are no guarantees as to what you will learn.
Don’t expect a large number of apprenticeships to be awaiting your interest. Do you know how many times apprentice groomers have quit on employers as soon as they figured out they had learned all they could? The number is similar to how many grains of sand make a beach. It’s rampant. Not many employers are willing to be burned by apprentices that won’t stay on for at least a year or two in respect. Don’t give up on apprenticeships, we still see them being offered in the PetGroomer.com Help Wanted Ads. Training opportunities are also available with the corporate chains but they are certain to have some stipulations in return for training you.
We suggest you write an educational plan now.
Start Your Educational Plan
Begin your educational plan by considering these questions. After studying this chapter you should be able to form specific answers.
Which educational format is right for you? School, home study, apprenticeship or training program?
Does your educational plan support your overall career path in grooming?
Are you willing or able to travel out of your residential area to attend school?
If you attend a grooming school, how many school hours do you plan to take?
If you plan to be self-employed where is your small business management training?
If these questions overwhelm you, we understand. We’re here to help. Let’s start with some general guidelines:
Grooming school curriculums vary greatly; never assume you will get the same grooming education and experience regardless of what school you attend.
Most U.S. states require vocational schools to meet regulations to operate in their respective states, but state governments do not closely evaluate the effectiveness of curricula. Instead they collect information about the owners, instructors and proposed operation for reasonability and then monitor the institutions for complaints. Take your time when choosing a school! Selecting a school based simply on the factor that it is the closest one to you can be detrimental in the long run. Study their backgrounds, course offerings, facilities and talk with successful graduates.
Home study is a viable entry-level method to enter the pet grooming industry. There are career seekers living in states without one school and unable to travel. Home study is a great solution for them. In fact, taking home study courses while still a career seeker is a good way to ensure you want to become a groomer. Similar to the state of affairs with schools, home study programs are not all the same. Solid home study programs provide ample opportunity for communication with them while taking courses, and often afterwards. Study the programs carefully before you purchase one. Unlike a school you will have to find pets to practice your hands-on grooming exercises. Recognize the fact that you will still want continuing education after completing home study, and graduates of grooming schools need to maintain that recognition as well.
School programs are usually based on hours. The rule of thumb is to take as many hours of training as possible. Everyone should experience some classroom time but it’s the hands-on experience that should interest you greatly. Not all hands-on training is the same. Consider these questions. Do you have to share pets consistently with other students? Are a wide variety of breeds and mixed breeds available? How much supervision and reinforcement is provided? More questions are provided ahead.
Your education is not done once you complete a vocational school program, home study program or even an apprenticeship. You can expect to expand and refine your skills for several years. Yes, years.
Consider how many breeds and mixed breed variations you will groom, and the differences in many of them, how could you expect to “master” pet grooming quickly. You cannot.
Your initial education should prepare you for employment but never adopt the attitude that continuing education won’t be a part of your working life. It will if you are to live up truly to the term “professional” pet groomer. Fortunately the sources for continuing education are substantial today including at home study with books and DVDs by acclaimed groomers, as well as seminars and workshops by associations and trade show producers.
When you create your educational plan divide it into 2 phases. Your initial phase is prior employment or self-employment, and the second phase is continuing education plans for several years thereafter. During your time in the grooming industry you will meet groomers that acquire continuing education, and others that don’t. Putting it bluntly, the level of their continuing education will show in their work.