How to Get a Dog Groomer Certification

Learn What to Look for in a Grooming School

Certified dog groomer giving happy terrier a haircut.

Nastasic / Getty Images 

At this time, certification is not required to become a dog groomer. However, obtaining education and a certificate via training from an accredited pet grooming institution will not only give you greater knowledge and, hence credibility, but this will also afford you the skills and confidence to better serve your furry clients.

Dog Groomer Schools That Offer Certification

In order to obtain proper certification, one must receive training from a school with instructors who are certified master dog groomers. Three major sources for certification in the U.S. include:

  • International Professional Groomers, Inc. (IPG)
  • National Dog Groomers Association of America
  • International Society of Canine Cosmetologists—also offering certification for a master groomer

Certification means that the student has completed the relevant education and have passed a series of comprehensive practical and written tests.

The three organizations base their criteria on American Kennel Club breed standards, as well as having a standard for each different breed. Through the courses, you will also gain an understanding of things to do to make the dogs look better and give them a better profile. Grooming is healthy for the pet and makes the dogs happier.

Proper schooling that leads to certification requires a considerable time commitment. The minimum schooling for IPG is 480 hours—16 weeks—but there are a few shorter programs available throughout the country. Furthermore, some schools offer full-time (five days a week) training programs, while others offer programs that allow students to attend classes on a part-time basis.

What to Look for in a Dog Groomer School

When looking for a groomer school, be sure to find one with instructors that have received certification from one of the above-mentioned schools. Grooming schools may have one to several instructors that are master groomers.

IPG also has membership schooling opportunities around the nation with 15 additional member locations. The member schools have a minimum standard for how many hours they teach, if they have a curriculum—which a lot of schools do not—and that they will guarantee what you will be learning. For example, we will guarantee that you will be grooming at least five dogs a day in a shop.

Groomer Apprenticeships

Apprenticing with a reputable and established dog groomer is good supplemental training because it will give you hands-on experience in a real-world scenario. Apprenticeship was the way most groomers learned the trade. A combination approach also helps a novice groomer quickly acquire the skills they need to do the job.

Apprenticeship is also a good way to get a closer look at the actual nuts and bolts of running a grooming business such as effective customer service, marketing, types of products that groomers use to increase their bottom line, and other important business-operating skills.

Red Flags to Look For in Dog Grooming Schools

While a number of excellent dog groomer schools exist out there, there are also some turkeys. In order to avoid investing your valuable time and money into a potentially bad school, thoroughly investigate any school you may want to attend. Take of tour of the facilities and see how the dogs are being handled. Also, look at the certification and experience background of the instructors.

Some dog groomer schools allow students to come in and just groom dogs, unsupervised. This is the kind of school to avoid. Make sure the school has on-site and hands-on instructors giving tips while they groom.

Another red flag is the atmosphere of the facility. It should be clean, not overly noisy, and the dogs safely confined. Many of the better organizations also offer a standalone bather program.