In 2010, the pet industry continues to be recession proof, as pet owners invest over $32 billion a year in food, care, veterinary services, and grooming for their pets. There are well over 30,000 grooming businesses in the United States, and those businesses are always looking for skilled groomers. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for skilled pet groomers will steadily increase through 2010.
Before you spend money on pet grooming school or spend time applying for jobs, you need to be sure that you enjoy working with animals. Grooming and caring for dogs and cats as a job is much more arduous and demanding than simply caring for your own pet.
One of the best ways to gain experience to become a pet groomer is to volunteer. Call your local Humane Society, animal shelter or veterinarian and ask if they need volunteer help. You may be asked to clean cages, walk dogs, or assist in any number of basic jobs. While the work is not glamorous, you will learn on the job, build your resume, and hopefully get to know people in the pet industry who may some day recommend you for a job or direct clients to you.
Pet Grooming Apprenticeship
A great way to break into the pet grooming business and get a hands-on education at no cost to you is to get a job at a grooming salon or at a pet store that offers grooming services. Your entry level job will be as a bather/brusher. Bathing animals is much harder than it sounds and requires not only a love of animals, but patience, stamina, physical strength, and an ability to figure out and deal with the personality of each pet before problems arise. As you work, you will learn from other pet groomers in the salon, will eventually be given opportunities to do simple grooming jobs, and you can also get an idea of how a pet grooming business is run.
Learn At A Pet Store
Pet grooming training programs at large chain stores like Petsmart and Petco offer bathers the opportunity to go to pet grooming school. Qualified bathers who show a willingness to work hard and learn, are asked to sign a 1 to 3 year contract with the store. The store then pays for their pet grooming schooling and the student works for two to three years (often on commission), learning and perfecting skills.
To work as a bather/brusher at one of the nationally-owned pet stores, you must be 18 years old and have a high school education or GED equivalent. Privately-owned pet grooming salons may hire bathers who are younger. Stores generally prefer to hire individuals who have had some education or training with animals, but in certain instances (dire need, shortage of workers) you may be able to get a job with no training at all. You can boost your chances on the job market by taking some pet grooming classes: online, at private grooming schools, or at community or state colleges.