Animal Groomer

The Job and What's Involved

Although the majority of animal grooming involves the care of dogs, the industry has grown and become much more diverse. It now also includes grooming services for other animals, such as cats and rabbits.

Dog groomers look after the condition of dogs' coats by shampooing, clipping, trimming and grooming them. This can help to prevent health problems or alleviate suffering. They may also check the animals' skin, eyes, ears, mouth, nose, feet and nails for any problems.

Animal groomers work with a variety of breeds and sizes. Some dogs are groomed as regularly as every four to six weeks, others perhaps once or twice a year.

Dog groomers start by discussing with the animal's owner what type of grooming is needed. They then follow guidelines on how each different animal should look and trim the animal accordingly.

A dog groomer's tasks usually include:

  • Parting a dog's hair to check the skin for ticks, fleas, red, sore or inflamed areas and any lumps.
  • Checking a dog's eyes, ears, mouth, nose, feet and nails.
  • Shampooing and drying, using specialist hairdryers or drying cabinets.
  • Brushing or combing to get rid of tangles.
  • Trimming a dog into the right shape for its breed, using electric clippers or a stripping knife.
  • Using different techniques including, scissoring, clipping, hand stripping and thinning, amongst others.
  • Styling with scissors.
  • Final brushing, combing and trimming.

All animal groomers need to take special care when clipping; for dogs, this is especially important around the face, legs and paws. Grooming dogs may sometimes involve clipping a dog's claws, cleaning its ears or teeth and treating parasites.

Animal groomers advise owners on their animals' grooming, coat care and diet and when to seek veterinary advice.

Dog groomers usually work a standard full-time week, Monday to Saturday, with a day off during the week. Self-employed groomers often work flexible hours, including evenings and weekends, to meet the needs of their clients. Grooming dogs can take up to two hours for each animal.

Dog and other animal groomers mainly work indoors, in a private home, shop, veterinary practice or grooming room. A driving licence is useful for groomers who travel between different places of work.

There is a considerable amount of standing involved, and lifting of animals on to the grooming table. The work may not be suitable for some people with allergies.

Most groomers wear an overall or apron for shampooing, and gloves if using chemicals to treat parasites or skin conditions.

A person starting out as a dog groomer may earn around £11,000 a year. An experienced dog groomer may earn £16,000 or more.

Very experienced dog groomers, supervisors or managers of grooming businesses may earn around £20,000 or more.

Self-employed dog groomers usually charge set or negotiated fees per hour or appointment. The charge may vary according to the size of the animal being groomed and the work that is involved.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

There are job opportunities for animal groomers in pet shops, specialist grooming businesses, show dog kennels and some veterinary practices throughout the UK.

The number of jobs varies from area to area. The demand for groomers is increasing, as more people have pets and there is a growing awareness about responsible pet ownership. However, competition is often strong for full-time vacancies. Many dog groomers are self-employed and run their own business.

Job vacancies may be advertised in local newspapers and in the magazines, Our Dogs and Dog World. There is also a job vacancies section on the Pet Care Trust's website: www.petcare.org.uk

Education and Training

There are no set qualifications required for entry into this profession, but some employers may prefer applicants with GCSE grades (A*-C). Enthusiasm and interest in working with animals and especially dogs is very important. Experience of working voluntarily in kennels or of owning a pet is also valuable.

Some experienced, qualified dog groomers offer trainee jobs to school or college leavers. These are usually only available in larger businesses, however, and there is strong competition for the positions.

It may be possible to enter this career through an Apprenticeship programme.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships, Careers Wales www.careerswales.com; and for Northern Ireland contact www.careersserviceni.com.

The Diploma in environmental and land-based studies may also be a useful qualification for this area of work.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

The Pet Care Trust can provide details of various courses and qualifications. For dog groomers, these may include:

NPTC Level 2 Certificate for dog grooming assistants
NPTC Level 3 Certificate in introductory dog grooming
NPTC Level 3 Diploma in professional dog grooming

Training courses usually last for up to one year and include health and safety, general dog care and specific dog grooming techniques.

Trainees working for qualified dog groomers receive on-the-job training from experienced staff.

The Pet Care Trust offer a membership scheme, information and events, and has developed a Groomers' Charter, which aims to improve grooming and trading standards.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A dog and animal groomer should:

  • Be knowledgeable about the care of animals.
  • Be calm and patient, especially when grooming nervous animals.
  • Be confident in handling any size of animal and have the ability to handle animals firmly but gently.
  • Have good hand-to-eye co-ordination and attention to detail.
  • Be good at talking to people.
  • Have stamina and fitness.
  • Work well alone or as part of a team.

Your Long Term Prospects

There are unlikely to be promotion prospects in small grooming businesses. In larger ones, dog groomers may be able to progress to senior groomer, supervisor or manager.

Many experienced dog groomers start up their own grooming business. Some move into lecturing or training in animal grooming, or move into other areas of work with animals.

Get Further Information

Landex
Website: www.landex.org.uk

Lantra, Lantra House, Stoneleigh Park, nr Coventry, Warwickshire CV8 2LG
Tel: 024 7669 6996
Websites: www.lantra.co.uk www.afuturein.com and www.lantracoursefinder.co.uk

NPTC, Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire CV8 2LG
Tel: 024 7685 7300
Website: www.nptc.org.uk

The Pet Care Trust, Bedford Business Centre,
170 Mile Road, Bedford MK42 9TW
Tel: 01234 273933
Website: www.petcare.org.uk

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