ALTERNATIVES TO ATTENDING AN ONSITE SCHOOL
Unlike the hair styling industry, people attending an approved school for specified training is not required in any U.S. state. Unfortunately, anyone can call themselves a groomer by buying some grooming tools. They may need a local business license or other paper regulations to take money for services, but there is no required training in actual hands-on grooming experience.
Realistically, many potential groomers cannot attend an onsite school. In some states, there may be only one pet grooming school, even none. The industry faced this reality starting in the Nineties with pioneers creating home study alternatives and continuing to improve alternative methods. You cannot replace the value of one-on-one onsite school training with great teachers supervising you, but home study vendors are doing their best and evaluate your work. Today there are sources for streaming education as part of home study thanks to the Internet.
If you don’t know if pet grooming is right for you taking a home study could help you to discover your answer. The cost is reasonable, far less than grooming school. A home study may be your best first step if you simply cannot afford grooming school or obtain financial aid. In the future, you can continue to acquire more home study aids like books and DVDs and find a way to attend trade shows, seminars, and workshops whenever possible. Never stop learning the art of grooming. If you cannot attend an onsite grooming school, even one offering financial assistance, here are some alternatives to consider.
As an IEAA internationally accredited career distance learning school, and a government-registered career training school in Canada, JKL has been successfully offering comprehensive professional groomer training since 1980. Joy Waters, author and instructor of the JKL program of studies, has now proudly trained several thousand students from all corners of the world, including Canada, Australia, Asia, the United Kingdom, and the USA, to their graduate levels. Long before videos or the internet came on the scene, Joy was successfully training professional groomers through home study. Student alumni, some still earning their living at their trade for more than two decades now, are a testament to the high quality of professional training always offered through JKL.
Our intensive academic program, together with its substantial, self-provided hands-on component, has been formulated to train our students in their own homes, at their own pace, to achieve their professional diploma qualification. As well supervised practical instruction by a JKL-certified grooming instructor can be arranged at a Canadian or US-based training center. The JKL course offers nearly 1000 pages (500 academic hours) of groomer training instruction, accessible online, on CD-Rom, or in a printed course manual. It includes many color diagrams, illustrations, and photographs; complete business start-up information, business plan, templates, salon designs, and floor plans; exclusive JKL Glance & Groom Breed Trim Charts; instructional CDs, plus optional DVDs by industry leader Jodi Murphy.
Seeking classroom training? JKL has some very exciting news! The JKL course is now being taught in a US classroom! We are delighted to announce our partnership with Groomer Training Center in Palmyra, Pennsylvania.
Allison Alonso, owner of GTC, has been a professional groomer for over 25 years and is a fully qualified JKL Certified Instructor.
All JKL members enjoy complete pre and post-graduate educational support, exclusive online student/graduate forums, customizable business templates, promotional and marketing benefits, as well as over 30 years of experience offering affordable and accessible career training. Enroll with JKL today! Click here to learn more.
Selecting a Home Study Program
Home study opportunities have grown significantly in the last 15 years. Hands-on training is a part of home study. However, you must locate pets to groom. Most programs provide advice on how to find pets for grooming. Just as you must evaluate schools you attend in person, you must evaluate home study programs.
Today there are three categories:
- Experienced pet groomers who have set up companies specifically focused on pet care training through home study alone.
- Experienced pet groomers who have set up schools, and a portion of their curricula is home study; another portion is an internship onsite at a specified location.
- Corporate vocational education companies offer instruction in dozens of trades, of which pet grooming is only one.
We advise the first two only. Several of them have been consistently listed at PetGroomer.com for many years (click here for names). You can build working relationships with them, and there are unique benefits derived from groomers teaching groomers.
You maintain communication with the home study instructors through correspondence. Some groomers completing these programs have maintained long-term working relationships with instructors. Some visitors to PetGroomer.com tell us they loved the home study alternative and continued to acquire additional continuing education.
We asked Kathy Sanders, owner of Groomadog Academy (home study) and former owner of an onsite grooming school, to share her experience with home study students. She replied, “I owned two residential schools for 12 years, and I can say from experience that my correspondence students are doing just as well, if not better. The correspondence student has an advantage over the residence students. They’re already over their fear of grooming without instructors. My students graduate with confidence. People should also realize that home study courses can differ, so they must choose wisely. Some courses are videos and a book. Some are much more than that. My home study graduates open shops, win competitions and go on to get their masters with NDGAA. We have groomers take our home study course to expand their training experience. However, by all means, I recommend that all students, residents, or correspondence go on to further their education and experience.”
Pet owners acquire home study courses to learn how to groom their pets. I wonder how many of them quickly discover that grooming pets are more complex than they first thought and become loyal clients of local professional groomers.
What if you could learn to groom by apprenticing with a groomer? Sound great? It can be. Apprenticeships are available, but their numbers are not many. Do you know why? The answer is in the past of the grooming industry.
For decades groomers have taken on apprentices. Most employers will agree the results of offering apprenticeships can be the proverbial mixed bag. Imagine you are a business owner. You provide training and a wage to a career seeker, and once the trainee felt they have acquired enough knowledge and experience, they quit! Do you want to start over again, repeating this same cycle? Unfortunately, this scenario has been played out thousands of times. It gets worse.
Sometimes departing apprentices open competitive businesses down the block from their past employer/trainer! Some even take their past employers’ client lists! These are not rare cases. How unfortunate for today’s career seekers that so many of their predecessors have stained the reliability of offering apprenticeship opportunities.
“Burned” employers don’t make the same mistake more than twice. It takes a lot of convincing for them to be sold on offering apprenticeships again.
Don’t rule out an apprenticeship if one interests you. Review the PetGroomer.com Help Wanted Classified Ads updated several times a week. Be honest and faithful to our fellow groomers offering you these opportunities. There are apprenticeships available, but they are few.
If you find one, honor the owner who does a good job of training. Stay employed with them for a reasonable period once you can be a standalone groomer. Give them plenty of advance notice when you do depart. You are affecting the future of tomorrow’s career seekers.
One of the key differences between apprenticeships versus fee-based education is time. Educational opportunities immerse you in the challenges of education daily because curricula hours are set. Apprentice groomers can achieve the same education, but employers control the length of time. It’s a trade-off sometimes. On the other side of the coin, apprenticeships cost nothing and usually include wages while learning.
Other Training Programs
PETCO, PetSmart, and other chain retailers may offer training. If you cannot afford a school, home study, or find an apprenticeship, their career path may be ideal for you. Even if money is not a determining factor in your education choice, working in a corporate environment may be right for you. Unlike the majority of grooming jobs in independents, they offer wages while you learn.
Clearly, corporate stores offer some of the best employee benefits in the pet grooming industry. In fact, you should know one sad fact about benefits and the grooming industry. Thousands of pet groomer jobs in independents offer little or no benefits. If you are counting on benefits such as healthcare, your employment choices will narrow quickly when working for independents.
We are pleased some of the corporate chains have introduced career training opportunities on a large scale. They changed the industry. Where there are no schools, and some states have no schools, they probably have some stores with training arrangements.
Build a Library of Professional Grooming Books & DVDs and Use Streaming Video
Every professional groomer has a library of grooming books and DVDs for reference. The best news is that some of the grooming industry’s finest groomers are now publishing DVDs and writing reference books of superior quality. There are so many breeds and mixed breeds to learn; remember, you cannot expect to learn all of them in school. You never know when your employer will ask you to do a rare breed. Or, the phone rings, and suddenly you have an appointment to groom a breed for the first time. You realize that you don’t even have a grooming reference library. That’s stress, unnecessary stress.
Build a library. Books and DVDs can be read and watched again and again. It’s a very wise and essential investment in your career. As an employer, you can use your library when training employees and providing a method of reinforcement training. You can learn more about books and DVDs at this site under the Education category or here.
Scholarships & Grants
Scholarships are very uncommon in the pet grooming industry. In 2006 PetGroomer.com did organize over $40,000 in scholarships with the support of many schools in the U.S. All is not lost. We suggest you check with GroomTeam USA and Barkleigh Productions for current scholarship availability. We do occasionally receive notices of scholarships from schools. You will find them listed on the GroomerTALK™ Message Board if they are actively available.
Grants sponsored by members of the grooming industry are rare. Once again, check the resources above. You may find grants available to assist with starting a grooming business. Contact the Small Business Administration and research available grants and their requirements. Most grants require a specific purpose or target candidate. For example, we’ve seen numerous grants for women opening a small business. Also, we’ve seen rehabilitation-oriented grants and tuition assistance from battered women groups. Therefore, check locally with state and local government and appropriate groups.