In general, there are no licensing requirements to be a professional groomer. However, in certain states, a freelance groomer with their own business will need their facility to hold a Pet Grooming Facility License or a regional certification. While freelance groomers themselves do not need this license, their facility will.

Dog groomers tend to mostly work for themselves or for others in pet salons, kennels, veterinary clinics, or mobile grooming services. They need to be able to work with animals, including large dogs. They are expected to know the styling standards for different breeds. Common job duties include bathing pets, styling pets’ hair, trimming nails, recognizing signs of disease or poor health, sterilizing equipment, and ensuring that the workplace meets regulatory standards.

Licensing requirements for dog groomers and pet grooming facilities vary by state. The majority of pet grooming licensure requirements apply to facilities. States may specify facility standards, such as room requirements, grooming equipment, drying cages, exercise areas, and interior accouterments.

Individual pet groomer licensure requirements vary more widely by state. Some states, such as New York and Michigan, don’t require licensing at all. Others, such as Connecticut, require licensing of both a groomer and a grooming facility. Some states, such as Michigan, require pet groomers to have a domestic animal pest management license if they provide flea baths for clients.

However, it is advisable that you look into local regulations to find out what is required in order to start your dog grooming career. It may be as simple as taking an exam or sending in an application. Just call your local government to find out, and put the wheels in motion!

Have it in mind that a dog grooming license cannot stand on its own—they don’t actually teach you how to be a groomer! A dog grooming course will teach you how to care for your furry clients. Some dog grooming courses will actually include business units to teach you how to start your own business. So if that’s your career goal, be sure to find the right training!

However, States are taking notice of the complete lack of regulation for dog groomers and they are starting to propose state mandated legislation. To check your state’s current specific dog grooming legislation laws, check your state’s local Small Business Association or whatever department of government seems applicable for your state.

Types of Licenses You Need to Start a Pet Grooming Facility

For a dog groomer, licensing and certification are two totally different things. Certification can be used to differentiate yourself from other grooming professionals while licensing only allows you to comply with your state’s regulations.

For better clarification, certification is offered through training, while licensing is acquired through an application at your local office. Licensing does not prove that you are a skilled professional. It only maintains your status as a legal business. Here are the basic licenses you will need.

  1. Business License

Indeed, if you want to start your own dog grooming business, you will need to obtain a business license. Almost every state in the U.S. has some kind of license to collect sales tax or just to register a new business. Most times, if you live in a city, you will have some additional business permits to acquire.

Even though the cost may be minimal, but it will need to be renewed yearly and displayed in your business location. Some groomers who first start out grooming from their home tend to forgo or decide to bypass a business license. This is not advisable, especially because if you are caught by your state or your city the fees you will have to pay will be much larger than the initial cost of obtaining a license.

  1. Training/Schooling License

For groomers who intend to leverage their skills to train others, they have to obtain a training license. This is required for those who are going to be using their business only for training. If you are currently grooming and want to train a minimum amount of people your state should not require a license. It may help you attract potential students by obtaining a license and calling yourself a “licensed trainer”, but anyone who researches will understand that a training license really means very little.

How to Become a Dog Groomer in the United States

In the United States, the minimum educational requirement for animal care and service workers, including pet groomers, is a high school diploma. Note that these professionals tend to gain the skills they need through an informal apprenticeship with a licensed or experienced groomer, or with a career school, community college, or online dog grooming school. Nonetheless, here are simple steps to take if you want to become a dog groomer in the United States.

  1. Do Your Homework

Dog groomers may not charge a lot of money, but this can be a rewarding career for those who love animals. However, it can be physically demanding and stressful, and there’s a risk of being bitten by pets that don’t want to be groomed. So, the first step before going down this route is to make sure this is the right job for you.

Research this career online to learn about grooming techniques and different styles for different breeds. Also note that you will need to learn how to clip a dog’s nails, how to brush its teeth, and how to cut its hair. Also, watch online videos about pet grooming. Make friends with a professional dog groomer, if possible, and ask if you can observe grooming to get a better idea of what’s involved. Also, if you’ve never washed a dog before, give it a try sometime!

  1. Take a Course in Pet Grooming

In the United States, you don’t have to worry about how to get a dog grooming license or a pet grooming degree because they do not exist. But both hands-on and online courses are available in pet grooming, and while they are not a necessity, they are highly recommended. Take your time to find pet-grooming courses in your area and see if you can find a good one that provides in-person training. Online courses are also available, but this is a field where experience may be the best teacher.

  1. Gain Entry-Level Work Experience

Regardless of how much you must have studied, you’re going to have to get your hands wet sooner or later, so find a way to dive in. You can choose to volunteer and help at any facility that grooms pets, or you can seek an internship. You might become a groomer’s assistant, which more or less involves giving pets their bath, while the experienced groomer does the rest.

  1. Pursue Certification

In the United States, you do not need an official certification to be a dog groomer, but it certainly helps. Research the National Dog Groomers Association of America to learn how to become a certified pet groomer. After completing the necessary coursework and/or workshops, you will have to demonstrate your grooming skills on various types of dogs, plus pass written exams.

Conclusion

The laws are always changing. There are a few states trying to pass legislation to mandate groomers to be licensed. Howbeit, the best way to find out is to talk to a local groomer and find out if they, or their salon, are licensed to practice in your area.

Once states pass licensing laws, their primary focus will be the practice of safe pet handling. This will most likely require a groomer to take a written test provided by the state.  However, there is much more involved in the education and certification of dog groomers and instead of wondering if dog groomers need to be licensed, you should be looking into what it takes to become a Certified Dog Groomer.

Joy Nwokoro