So, like me, you're a dog lover. And, like the majority of us out there, you love spending your time with your favourite pooch or pooches, more than spending time with fellow humans. And, believe me, I thoroughly understand that.
Dog Grooming is an ever-growing industry. It requires both practical hands-on experience and qualifications; and transferrable skills such as customer service, time management and the ability to work under pressure. And, oodles of creativity. But, how does one get started?
Here are my top tips:
1. Do an online search for dog groomers in your postcode area:
Last week, in the midst of job-hunting myself, I did a quick search in my local area; and 32 dog grooming salons came up within a 50 mile radius. This is just the north-west UK, and includes companies which are listed with the likes of Google and search engines such as https://www.yelp.co.uk.
There will also be independent one-to-one dog groomers working from home or commercial premises and mobile dog groomers who rely purely on social media to promote their businesses and for appointment booking. So, with all of the above in mind, wherever you live, you will pretty much come up with similar online results as I did.
Narrow down your list to at least 10 dog grooming establishments, making a note of their contact details and opening hours and follow the next steps.
2. Make contact with those on your list:
If you work full-time or part-time, then I fully recommend volunteering as an assistant before signing yourself up to any training courses and paying for them. You wouldn't necessarily have to give up your day-job, and you could work this around other commitments. As a volunteer without accredited qualifications; you wouldn't be expected to do anything more than help to bathe and dry dogs, keeping the salon clean and interacting with customers. Volunteering gives you the opportunity to see what it's like to work as a dog groomer post-qualification, and how businesses run. So, if you have any spare time during the week or at the weekend; then get in touch with some dog grooming salons near you.
This can be done via telephone or by email. During working hours, most dog groomers will let most phone calls go to voicemail and then will phone you back at time convenient to them. So, leave them a brief message as to why you want to help and including your contact details. Some may even text you back with either a 'yes' or a 'no'. If sending an email, this too needs to be polite and straightforward. Remember, that your email might bounce through to their junk-mail folder; if you haven't heard anything back within a week, then follow up with a telephone call.
When contacting your local dog groomer via their social media pages, remember that they will be dealing with requests from clients throughout the course of the day and often into the late evening. If they live within walking distance, then it might be worthwhile calling in to see them and asking if they require any help; and whether it would be okay for you to send a skills-based CV to them.
I often find in life, until you ask the question, you'll never know the answer.
3. Finding a training provider:
After spending at least six months as a volunteer, and providing you are still enjoying working alongside your furry-legged canine friends, then it's time to look for an accredited training provider and course.
City & Guilds Level 2 Certificate for Dog Grooming Assistants is your first point of call. This accredited course requires no prior qualifications; and having successfully completed both the practical and theoretical assessments, will enable you to progress onto either City & Guilds Level 3 Certificate in Introductory Dog Grooming or City & Guilds Level 3 Diploma for Professional Dog Stylists. When advertising dog grooming vacancies, the majority of employers seek employees who are qualified as well as experienced. Having industry recognised qualifications will also help you to obtain relevant business insurance. Whether you intend to set up as a sole-trader or work self-employed within a dog grooming establishment, being fully qualified will help you to build up your clientele list.
For further information on training within England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland; please visit https://www.cityandguilds.com/qualifications-and-apprenticeships/land-based-services/animal-management/7763-dog-grooming#tab=information
Other industry recognised qualifications include the following:
Open College Network West Midlands Level 3 Certificate in Dog Grooming and Open College Network West Midlands Level 3 Diploma in Dog Grooming, generally known as OCN. If you have previously studied City & Guilds Level 2 Certificate for Dog Grooming Assistants, you can progress onto OCN Level 3 Diploma in Dog Grooming.
For further information please see https://www.opencollnet.org.uk/qualifications/all-qualifications/dog-grooming
You will have to complete a canine first aid course, which will have to be repeated every three years. The first aid course may be delivered as part of your course, or you may have to pay an additional charge to a third-party provider who is qualified to teach canine first aid.
Training costs may vary according to the training provider. Depending on age and financial circumstances, some entry level courses may be fully or partially funded. For those between 16 - 19 years, apprenticeships in dog grooming may also be available. For those over 19 years, courses may be covered by an Advanced Learner Loan or be paid for in full. It is worth making enquiries with several providers - whereby qualifications generally follow a national framework, the way in which the course is delivered is equally as important as the cost in itself.
For information on apprenticeships, please see: https://www.gov.uk/browse/education/find-course and follow its links.
For advice on Advanced Learner Loans, please visit: https://www.gov.uk/advanced-learner-loan/how-to-apply
If you are already working as dog groomer or dog grooming assistant, and need an accredited qualification, fast-track courses are available as well. You can be assessed in the workplace and complete theory work at home. Again, make enquiries with the training provider.
As a student with The Open University, I am an advocate of long-distance/remote learning online. However, whilst there may be various dog grooming courses available online, they don't factor in the hands-on practical experience, which is crucial to work in this industry. If you have no accredited training providers in your local area; this may be the only option for you, and you will have to weigh up the pros and cons of doing an online certificate or diploma. Or, you may consider whether it's worthwhile travelling and staying to the nearest training provider.
Another route into the dog grooming industry is via https://www.icmguk.com/ - please see their website for futher information. Pets at Home/The Groom Room often advertise dog grooming vacancies on their website: https://www.petsathomejobs.com/the-groom-room
4. Keep on volunteering whilst you study:
As long as your life/study/work balance allows, if possible, keep your volunteer position going. Your confidence will increase over time, and the more dogs you come into contact with, the better for you.
I wish you luck in your endeavours, and for an overview on dog grooming in general, please follow the link to https://nationalcareers.service.gov.uk/job-profiles/dog-groomer