Before you march down a career path into the grooming industry, you must make vitally important decisions that 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 common options.
There are no commonly adopted standards for pet grooming education. Hairstylists (for people) enter their field knowing the 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 continuing their 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 need educational opportunities to get started and several years of continuing to achieve the level of excellence you demand yourself and the owners and pets you serve.
Cost is certainly a factor when choosing an educational path. Unfortunately, education costs lead 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 it seems all the more expensive without cash or credit. However, let’s be fair and accurate. “Expensive” is not the correct word when the cost is beyond 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 four 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 a $1 million gross income 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 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; every experienced groomer knows time is money. An apprenticeship may take years. Compare that to a school education within weeks.
There are risks with apprenticeships. Just as there are 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 correction and more continuing education before meeting our standards. Apprenticeship is a viable route, but you must realize there are no guarantees about 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 who won’t stay on for at least a year or two. Don’t give up on apprenticeships; they are still 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 your school.
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 simply because it is the closest one to you can be detrimental in the long run. Study their backgrounds, course offerings, and facilities and talk with successful graduates.
Home study is a viable entry-level method to enter the pet grooming industry. Career seekers are 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 afterward. 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 the 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 the hands-on experience 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 are 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.
Considering 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 accept that continuing education won’t be a part of your working life. It will if you live up 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 and 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.