According to Wendy Booth of the National Dog Groomers Association of America, only about 5 percent of groomers pursue continuing education to advance themselves.
As of now, pet grooming is still an almost completely unregulated, unlicensed industry. Grooming schools do not offer any official industry certification. However, formal instruction with professional groomers provides a newbie with a leg up on about 95 percent of the competition.
"They had an abundance of dogs that people could work [with] hands-on. I was working on a giant schnauzer, a terrier mix, a Bedlington terrier and a Norwegian duck tolling retriever, all in one week," says Charlotte Reed, who attended the New York School of Dog Grooming and later authored "The Miss Fido Manners Complete Book of Dog Etiquette."
Taking just one course from a reputable school can dissolve common misconceptions, helping the student determine if the business is truly for them.
"So many people think that dog groomers get to play with dogs all day. That's not it at all. It's a timed commercial process," Booth says.
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But even in a down economy, new grooming businesses continue to sprout up, like a fresh coat of fur.
"In the past, grooming was mostly offered in veterinarian offices with a few professional groomers," explains Reed. "Since the '90s, there's been an influx of doggie day care, home grooming and mobile grooming, and there are still plenty of dogs that need haircuts every month in almost any location."
New York School of Dog Grooming, www.nysdg.com
Located in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, NYSDG has been providing hands-on experience on a diverse pool of breeds since 1960.
Nash Academy, www.nashacademy.com
Founded by John Nash in the late '70s, the Nash Academy has emerged as the educational gold standard for groomers across the country. Their East Coast location is in Cliffside Park, N.J., just outside of New York City.
The Paragon School www.paragonpetschool.com
This Michigan-based groomer's program stands out from other online training because of its relationships with groomers across the country. Paragon combines Web-based study with on-site training at partner sites.
National Dog Groomers Association of America, Inc. is one of three national certifiers of professional groomers. But don't apply for their test right out of the gates -- NDGAA's test is geared for master groomers.