Learn About Dog Groomer Professional Certification

Certified dog groomer brushing a King Charles Spaniel.

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While professional certification is not a requirement for dog groomers to enter the field, there are several certification options that can further enhance a groomer’s credentials and earning potential. These certifications can come from some of the top canine organizations that offer professional certification options for dog groomers.

International Professional Groomers Inc.

International Professional Groomers Inc. (IPG) is a worldwide organization that certifies individual groomers and also offers accreditation to grooming schools, grooming salons, and mobile grooming salons. Groomers can pursue two certification options with IPG:

  1. The International Certified Master Groomer (ICMG) program, which offers five modules. The total cost for the ICMG program is $785.
  2. The Advanced Professional Groomer Certification (APG) program, which teaches advanced skills for shape, style, and symmetry. The total cost for the APG program is $297.

The International Certified Master Groomer (ICMG) option, also referred to as breed profile certification, involves a variety of written and practical tests that must be completed within a five-year period. Testing is based on the standard of excellence for the breed (using AKC standards in the United States and corresponding organizations in other countries).

International Society of Canine Cosmetologists

The International Society of Canine Cosmetologists (ISCC) is a global organization that certifies dog groomers through a combination of written and practical skills examinations. Testing is offered at all ISCC educational events, some major shows where ISCC has a booth, and through local proctor services in the applicant’s hometown. The program involves multiple levels of certification.

Practical exams involve styling sporting, non-sporting, and terrier breeds. Most tests cost from $50 to $150 each, though the final two tests (300-level thesis and styling presentation) are billed at a cost of $1,000 and $1,500 respectively.

National Dog Groomers Association of America, Inc.

The National Dog Groomers Association of America, Inc (NDGAA) is a professional association that offers certification through its National Certified Master Groomer (NCMG) program. The NCMG certification involves a variety of written and practical skills tests for several breed groups.

The practical skills tests include the grooming of non-sporting breeds, sporting breeds, long-legged terriers, and short-legged terriers. Written exams include non-sporting, sporting, and terrier groups and are based on AKC standards. The final phase is the 400 question National Certified Master Groomer Exam that covers other groups (working, toy, and hound) as well as general terminology, health care, pesticides, clipper identification, and even some cat questions.

The testing fee is $125 per breed group exam (including both the written and practical elements of the testing). The Master exam also costs $125 and can only be scheduled after all prerequisite exams have been successfully completed. Once achieved, the NCMG professional certification must be renewed each year at a cost of $50.

International Certifications

There are also several dog grooming certification options that are available only in specific countries, such as the City & Guilds accredited qualifications for dog groomers in the United Kingdom or the Higher Diploma in Dog Grooming offered by the British Dog Groomers Association.

Other Options

The reputation of a dog groomer can also be enhanced by the completion of an intensive practical training course at a professional grooming school. Grooming schools generally provide several hundred hours of training before a student is awarded a certificate of completion. The length of the training may be condensed into several weeks or several months, depending on the individual program. The school may also be able to assist with networking, internships, and job placement after graduation.

Another option is to take an apprenticeship with a well known experienced groomer or grooming salon. This practical approach does not result in a “certificate” per se, but a student can gain valuable hands-on experience and perhaps also benefit from the reputation and connections of their supervisor.