How To Become A Professional Dog Groomer

Starting a dog grooming business

With over 18 million cats and dogs in the UK  - over two thirds of which are currently in a regular grooming cycle - there is a considerable demand for highly qualified, professional groomers.

The need for professional grooming salons and grooming businesses is growing and with an expanding pet population and an even bigger waiting list for appointments, now is the ideal time to start a career and build a business that can make you happy and keep you as busy as you choose.

Do you want to wake up smiling every morning? Do you want to work with animals? Do you want to know how to combine a love for dogs with a successful career? Do you want the freedom to work the hours you choose rather than be stuck in a job that dictates your life? Take the first steps to making that happen.

Step 1: Training and development


In an industry that is currently unregulated, there is a real danger of believing that you can just pick up a set of clippers and get started. Cutting your own hair from time to time doesn’t make you a hairdresser. There are however, many businesses that don’t have qualifications and importantly, the standards required to produce a good standard of grooming.

There are plenty of online qualifications that you can take, but you have to decide whether you are getting anything of value. Is a course that is just a series of online questions or videos really going to give you the feedback and assessment that you need?

The best way of deciding whether a course has value is looking at a few essential factors. Who is it run by? Is it recognised within the industry? Can you continue to continue to develop and gain accreditation? Do you gain both practical and theory knowledge to become a better groomer and also have the skills to start a business?

GroomArts Academy use City & Guilds and Pearson as an accreditation body and there is a specific reason for this. City & Guilds and Pearson are the top two educational bodies for vocational subjects, established over 100 years ago. They have qualifications that are respected and recognised in over 100 countries, with an active involvement in over 80.

Within the UK dog grooming industry, they are the benchmark for a professional standard of achievement.

Deciding what course to take will shape what type of learning you want to do.

Level 2 qualification can be achieved quickly and will allow you to wash and dry dogs within a professional environment, but you wouldn’t be allowed to groom them fully.

Level 3 qualifications are a benchmark for a professional groomer and give the firm foundations to begin a career.

To further develop, there is the option of a Diploma, which can be taken if you are Level 2 qualified to extend your learning even further.

Courses that are available include:

  • 7763-02 Level 2 Certificate for dog grooming assistants

  • 7763-03 Level 3 Introductory Certificate for dog grooming (must be registered before August 31st 2017)

  • 7863-03 Level 3 Diploma in dog grooming

If you are already grooming and are qualified at Level 3 standard, taking the step into setting up a business and making that business successful can be intimidating. This is why it is important to reinforce and support those grooming skills with business acumen.

Understanding the basics of business administration and promotion through advertising and channels such as social media can be the difference between operating a successful business or just being a very talented groomer.

City & Guilds business courses include:

  • 7513-03 Level 3 Diploma in Social Media and Digital Marketing

  • 4710-04 Level 4 Diploma in Business and Professional Administration

Step 2: Recognise your skills

Changing career or even just reinforcing some new skills takes a lot of commitment and determination. There is often the mistake that a career in grooming will give you the ability to style and shape the coat of a dog. In fact, there are many social, physical and intellectual skills that will be built up too.

Recognising health

Most dogs are extended family members and as a result, their health and wellbeing is paramount to their owner, as well as the reputation of your business. As part of your training, you will be taught to recognise signs and symptoms of health issues in dogs. This allows you to adapt how you handle them or to know if a dog is safe to be within your business. Knowing those signs and symptoms and importantly, the appropriate care and next steps, could be the difference between grooming a well-loved, well-managed dog or a legal investigation against you.

Customer service and social skills

The pet grooming industry requires strong customer service skills and the ability to build a great rapport with clients. This is because you are trusted and have a duty of care with a family member - albeit a furry one. Knowing how to professionally handle and manage a variety of situations with customers is essential to building a positive brand with happy clients.

Willingness and drive to learn and improve

As with many other professions, the difference between those who are most successful and those who get lost in the competition is the drive to continually learn and improve. After gaining the City and Guilds Level 3 qualification, business qualifications and experience, go to breed workshops and technique workshops and take any opportunity to enter competitions and attend seminars and events. This will not only help add to your skill set, it may also make you a better groomer.

Independence and self sufficiency

Whether you are working for someone else, setting up a business in your home, going mobile or building a high street salon, there will be times when you will be in charge. Managing day to day operations and effective time management is a fantastic asset that can be transferred to all walks of life. In addition, managing a budget for your training, the cost of your equipment and your premises can really help you develop the skills to maximise profit and be self-sufficient in your career.

Goal setting and motivation

When you start your own business and when you train to be a professional groomer, it is important to also train, learn and grow. Setting yourself regular goals and realising where your strengths and weaknesses lie will help you to develop further and become happier in a job you know you are achieving in. You’ll be encouraged to set your own personal targets and then when it comes to standing on your own two feet, your target setting will become instinctive.

Step 3: I’m qualified, what now?

You may not have thought much beyond the idea of ‘I want to work with dogs’ or ‘I just really love animals’. When you achieve your Level 3 qualification, the next stage is to start doing the job you love and have trained for.

Your options include:

  • Operating at home. This option requires low start up costs, with your biggest obstacles being building a client base and keeping your neighbours happy. This option is useful if you are looking to work a set number of hours and you have a large space that you can utilise.
  • Set up a mobile grooming business. This can mean long hours and pre-planning your route if you move door to door. It will open up the potential for a large client base and is convenient for many customers. Working as a mobile groomer allows you to work the hours that you choose, but you do need to factor in the cost of travel and insurance.
  • Start your own salon. This gives the best opportunity to have additional staff, work with a lot more dogs and potentially make more profit. The risk is greater but so is the reward and the separation between work and home is also clear.
  • Work for someone else. Often seen as a safer option, you don’t have the responsibility of running your own business but you also don’t have the choice of how you operate. You’ll have a guaranteed wage and some stability, with a chance to progress in a safe environment.
  • Extend your training. You should always be looking for the next chance to learn and improve. Taking more training can give you the edge between you and your competitors but is especially important after you have built up some grooming experience.

If you are unsure of which route to take in your dog grooming career, an Assist or Assist Plus program from GroomArts can help.

Step 4: Feel the benefits in your working life


This is one of the best things about being a professional groomer. Depending on the route you take, you can comfortably choose the hours you work and with your own business, the prices that you charge. It is important to not undersell yourself and remember the value of the work that you do.


This is where running your own business can be really useful. It is a learning process but working as a professional groomer allows you to develop a lot of skills that will help you make a living by doing something that you love. Understand your income and outgoings, learn how to upsell and how to make to decisions that will increase your profit, have your clients value your work and also get paid at a level that you deserve.


This is where grooming truly becomes a fantastic career opportunity. Taking a City & Guilds qualification and developing the skills to become a professional groomer allows you to take your work wherever you choose. With such high demand and versatility, with the right training, it is easy to find plenty of work. It is not just the freedom during work, but whether working from home or mobile or even a salon, you can schedule appointments when you decide and make sure you can keep your time free for the important things in your personal life.

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