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So You Want To Be A Pet or Dog Groomer?!

The Australian Pet industry includes more than 4.1 MILLION dogs and more than 3 MILLION owned (spoiled!) cats, and only around 4000 pet groomers.

Pet Grooming is a rewarding career improving animal welfare and being paid to work artistic magic on dogs, cats, and sometimes even angora rabbits and long haired Guinea Pigs. Some people are just dog groomers, others work across all the species. You can work part time, casual, full time and you can own your own business or work for someone else. There is a national shortage of senior level groomers, but you have to start at the base levels and work your way up!

What do you need to be a good pet/dog groomer?

  • a decent work ethic – you work hard, but you get to really see the positive results of your work!
  • be reasonably fit and healthy – you will be bending, standing and moving all day
  • a willingness to learn – pet or dog grooming is a more highly trained role than most people think!
  • a willingness to get on with people – pets have owners who love them!
  • not be too squeamish – a normal part of the job includes dealing with faeces, urine and slobber.

Disability is NOT a barrier – the Australian pet grooming industry includes many people with disablities including intellectual disabilites, some physical disabilities, and deafness, for example.With the right work ethic, ability to work in a team, and willingness to keep learning, anything is possible.

International Students are NOT a barrier! Australia has excellent visa schemes to allow people to study in Australia, and provided you choose a quality training provider, you will be trained at ‘world standard’ level. Australia welcomes overseas students and Pets Australia can also help with course selection, accommodation recommendations and career progression. Note that training in Australia does not provide a guarantee that you will be allowed to stay in Australia after your course is completed.

So do you still think you want to be a pet or dog groomer?

You WILL need training – if you hold yourself out to be a pet or dog groomer without training, you may be sued by angry clients for misleading and deceptive behaviour!

NOTE! “Online” courses are NOT recommended, as pet / dog grooming is a hands-on competency. You will need one-on-one teaching both to develop the skills you need to an acceptable standard, & develop commercial speed. Many students doing online courses have difficulty getting work placement, and a number have complained of finding it difficult to get employment. CHECK FIRST.


The Career Progression for Pet or Dog Groomers…

1. Step 1: Home Grooming

Basic Dog Grooming & Care is a “Home Grooming #101” one day intensive course for those who want to learn to properly care for their pet’s coat at home. It’s also a great “taster” day for those thinking about grooming as a career but don’t want to pay the around $2K course cost for a technician course.

Basic Home Grooming & Care is currently taught only in Sydney, but will move to other states according to demand. For more information on course dates and costs, CLICK HERE

2. Step 2: Grooming Technician level/Cert III level

BEFORE: Thanks to Reeda for the photo of Kobi!

BEFORE: Thanks, Reeda for the pic of Kobi!

This is the ‘base level’ for dog or employees in the grooming sector, and is really a person who can competently bath, brush, demat, shampoo, condition and dry a pet, with clipping skills for the sanitary areas, feet, and some summer clipping. It allows you to operate a mobile dog wash service with competence and confidence, or become a salon assistant in a grooming salon.

Courses include the Certificate III in Animal Studies at any TAFE that runs these courses including TAFE WSI in NSW, or the equivalent at private colleges including the Pet Stylist Academy in Queensland.  Pets Australia also operates the Grooming Technician course through many of these quality training centres, and courses are also run at quality salons including Pet Design in Manly NSW. You can see these courses by keeping an eye on our “Events” pages for dates and locations.

AFTER: Thanks Reeda for the photo!

AFTER: Thanks Reeda for the photo!

You will learn:

  • how to deal with clients, including ascertaining their requirements and managing complaints
  • different breeds, skin, behaviour and coat types for dogs and cats
  • grooming equipment, health and safety aspects
  • how to demat a pet, clip sanitary areas & feet, select shampoos and conditioners, bath, & dry pets
  • how do do a ‘summer clip’  for comfort in pets
  • working at commercial speeds
  • diseases and pests affecting pets at grooming including those that can affect humans
  • record keeping, waste management, value adding, disclaimers and other ‘tricks of the trade’

At the end of this training, you can call yourself a bather/brusher, or if you have done the Grooming Technician course, call yourself a Grooming Technician. You can work as an assistant in a Grooming Salon, or operate a mobile dog washing business.

3. Step 3: The Licensed or Professional Pet Groomer Level

This the training level you commonly see for stylists in grooming salons, or as “novice” or “open” competitors in dog grooming competitions.

There is no TAFE Certificate for this level except for Cert IV in Grooming which when taught well actually produces a level slightly higher than “Pet Groomer”. A number of private colleges do teach Grooming well, but CHECK FIRST. Costs vary widely and so does quality, and the number of animals you groom as a student.

At the Pet Stylist Academy in Queensland, your prior studies in the Grooming Technician course will count as Recognition of Prior Learning, if you continue to studies to Groomer level.  oodlecommons

You will learn:

  • pet styling using clippers, including blade selection, clipping angles
  • developing overall styles by blocking, achieving symmetry & balance, and techniques for shaping
  • basic breed styling including “Oodles” , some Poodle clips, Gundogs and soft and hard coated Terriers
  • new techniques including carding and hand stripping
  • learning ‘scissoring’  – the ability to achieve a smooth and velvety or specialist finishes using scissors of different types
  • value adding, competition preparation
  • some training centres also include basic creative grooming techniquesimg_7937
  • working at commercial speeds
  • higher level workplace health and safety considerations, and some courses also offer some salon management training

At the end of this training, you can call yourself a Groomer. If you with to have your skills validated, or have developed these skills without formal training and certification you can apply for a competency audit and become a LICENCED GROOMER (a bit like a CPA for Accounting).

4. Step 4: The Master Groomer or Salon Manager level.

At this level you see a divergence of training. Pet/Dog groomers tend to specialise in a particular breed group (eg Terriers) or they study for the International Certified Master Groomer Scheme (dog grooming) or National Dog Groomers scheme, or they develop skills in Creative Grooming and study for the National Association of Professional Creative Groomers (NAPCG), or they develop special skills in cat grooming and study for Certification by the National Cat Groomers Association or Feline Master Groomer. Most of these courses are run out of the USA, but are presented locally in Australia.

Thanks to Emily from Pet Stylist Academy for "Captain Jack"!

Thanks to Emily from Pet Stylist Academy for “Captain Jack”!

Groomers at this level would be expected to be at a level to compete in dog grooming competitions, possibly at “open”, “level 3” or “masters” level.

Alternatively, groomers may specialise in running successful salons, perhaps by undertaking a Cert IV in Business Studies through the TAFE system. The choice is yours!

Where to get more information…

You can

  • talk to the colleges listed here for more information about their courses
  • talk to Pets Australia about course options on 02 8214 8653
  • email Pets Australia about course options on petsaustralia@petsaustralia.org
  • search the internet for more options
  • keep watching the “events” site for short course options.
  • Join Pets Australia to get one-on-one assistance in developing your grooming career, networking, setting up your grooming business and other help to get you going!








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