How Long Do You Have To Go To School To Be A Dog Groomer?

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Certification For Dog Groomers

Certification is available through a small handful of non-profit organizations. Since dog grooming is unregulated, the goal of these programs is to build public trust for local salons and independent groomers.

The National Dog Groomers Association of America, Inc (NDGAA) offers in-person workshops and testing. Successful completion of the tests gives you certification for grooming certain breeds.

Workshops cost $125 and the test is an additional $125. Renewals cost $50 per year.

NDGAA certification covers the following 4 categories:

  • non-sporting
  • sporting
  • terriers
  • master exam – take after the above 3

The American Kennel Club (AKC) offers a S.A.F.E. Groomer/Salon certification. This program covers health and safety, pet diseases, and best practices. It aims to help grooms achieve safer standards for their salons. Since grooming is a self-regulated industry certifications like these help gain public trust.

Next we’ll cover other ways to get training and experience to be a better dog groomer.

Online Courses

Your first stop for online training is as easy as YouTube. No, it won’t come with certification or a degree.

Yes, it will come with a plethora of ideas on grooming different breeds. It’s a great place to learn the basic Kennel Cut or shave and trim for free.

If you want an actual pet grooming certificate you can get one from online career schools. Penn Foster offers an online certification for just $49 a month. The total cost is $599 and takes about a year to complete. See the full syllabus here.

Keep in mind that online classes will offer no experience. If you want to prove experience to a potential employer here’s the cheap, easy way:

  1. Watch YouTube videos on basic dog grooming
  2. Buy the basic grooming tools needed
  3. Bath, brush, and trim 3-4 of your friends and family’s dogs
  4. Take pictures of the before, during, and after
  5. Get testimonial videos from the pet parents
  6. Include links in a PDF of your resume to the pictures and videos, apply to all your local groomers

The above also makes for a great path to getting referrals for your own independent dog grooming store or mobile business.

Dog Grooming Schools

There are a ton of great dog grooming schools out there. We would recommend this path over an online school.

Why? They provide hundreds of hours of training and experience with actual dog grooming.

Take for instance our local Classy Pet Grooming School in the Denver Metro area. They offer a 9 week program that includes over 300 hours of instruction. In addition they are certified by State of Colorado Division of Private Occupational Schools to train dog groomers. Tuition is $3,750 plus $925 for your dog grooming tool kit.

Yep, dog grooming schools are expensive. They offer an easy solution to get the training and experience you need.

Are you a self starter? Then do free YouTube videos and get experience with your friends and family as described above.

Do you need a push to get things done? Do want pro guidance so you cover everything you need? Then check out a local pet grooming school

On The Job Training

Learning on the job can be great but it can also be a slow process. Expect to start at the bottom and get training as needed. Dog bathing is usually the beginner’s path. Many local salons and pet grooming stores will likely not take you if you don’t have any experience.

Instead consider the Petco Dog Grooming Apprenticeship program. It’s 20 weeks long and according to they usually pay you at least $10 an hour or so during the program. You are trimming dogs along the way!

You can sign up for Petco’s Certified Pet Stylist program here. While you can learn a lot about it from that site you’re better off going into a Petco and just asking the groomers what it’s like.

This is probably one of the best ways to get the training and experience you need to be a pet groomer.

Petsmart also has a similar apprenticeship program. According to, apprentices at Petsmart make $9 to $14 per hour. Check out their program and apply today here.


How Long Do You Have To Go To School To Be A Dog Groomer?

If you choose to go to school to become a dog groomer expect training to take 6 to 10 weeks. The Petco Apprenticeship program takes a full 20 weeks but you get paid for part of it. See examples above.

You do NOT have to go to a specialty school to become a dog groomer. Most salons, retail pet stores, and grooming business prefer you to have a high school diploma and experience.

You can get experience through dog grooming schools both online or in-person as described above.

You can also get experience through a formal apprenticeship program or from starting as a dog bather and working your way up.

How Do You Become A Dog Groomer?

The easiest way to become a dog groomer is to check Craigslist for local dog grooming jobs and apply.

We also recommend calling all your local dog grooming shops nearby and asking them what they look for in an applicant. Most will only want a basic high school diploma and some experience with dog grooming.

Formal education is not completely necessary to become a dog groomer. It can help with gaining experience if you are totally new but beware the costs.

The average dog groom makes $14 per hour on the low end up to $45 per hour actually grooming dogs. You’ll rise up the ranks faster with experience and skill than with education.

See the section above for online courses and other means to learn breed specific cuts and other complicated hair styles.

Does Petco Pay For Grooming School?

According to, Petco pays $10 per hour for apprenticeship work as a dog grooming. Their full dog grooming training program takes 20 weeks. It starts with online training and basic salon observation. It proceeds through basic bathing and shaves all the way through some breed specific trims.