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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know there have been other threads on this, but mine is a little bit different I think. And I find direct advice easier to process than bits and pieces picked out of other threads. So, here's my situation:

I am currently in college pursuing a BA in history. I had originally been pursuing a BS in zoology because animals are a big passion of mine, but I couldn't handle the math and chemistry. History is working for me because I am a good writer and love learning about history. BUT...I have no idea what I would do with this degree. Not many of the career options sound very appealing. However, I am also currently working part time at a facility that does boarding, daycare, and grooming. I work as a kennel tech, but I also assist with bathing most grooming days. I both bathe and dry dogs pretty regularly, like at least once a week sometimes more, and according to the unofficial head bather (she's been working there for like 12 years so she's basically second in command under the owner, though I don't think she has any actual title), I do a good job at this. I also really enjoy working there. So I was thinking about maybe becoming a groomer, and possibly even opening my own facility or something. Only thing is I really don't have any actual grooming experience except for trimming my own dog, Legend, and he is a papillon so the extent of actually cutting the hair is trimming the hair on his feet and the hair on his belly to avoid pee and the hair bum so it doesn't trail on the ground when he poos. Very little actual grooming. I know of one grooming school in NC that isn't too far from me, and it's Nanhall in Greensboro. It says their tuition for one year is $5800 and $2000 for supplies. That's not terrible I suppose but it's a lot to pay only to find out it's not going to work out for me. Also, does anyone know if it's a good school? Any suggestions as to how I might go about determining if I'd be any good in this field? I already failed at becoming a zoology major after 2 years of study and my dad just might strangle me if I waste any more money on school.
 

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I know nothing about the school.

I never went to school for it. I actually got hired on as a bather, and was asked one day after my boss had it with to many morons coming in to the shop, working for a bit and not working out. So she asked me if Id be willing to let her teach me. which I jumped on the chance. Ive been doing it for a few years now, I dont know close to everything. But I love it. Is there any way to get taught by the groomer there? even working one day a week for free in turn for her training you? Id look in to that option.
 

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I would do the same, learn from the groomer where you work, working one day for free or whatever. Nothing against those that took the courses, but I've rarely seen a great job out of most shops - it's fast and cheap but not always a great job.

Next to that I'd suggest offering to help with show handlers and groomers to learn how to do each breed properly, same idea.
 

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Nanhall is a great school. Haley Keyes is wonderful. I can highly recommend her school. She will teach you well, and right. It is difficult to find someone in a salon to teach you, as its very time consuming for the person teaching, and they have work to do. If you can afford Nanhall is a great place to learn.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yeah I don't think the groomer would have time to teach me. She grooms 8 dogs a day and is quite busy trying to get them all done on time. that's why I was looking at grooming school. I want to be able to have time to learn it right and not have to learn on a time sensitive schedule. That's good to know that Nanhall is a good school because I dont want to travel too far and I want to avoid Petsmart grooming academy. Ive still get a year to consider if this is what I want to do so well see.
 

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Just to note on the Zoology, Im aiming for becoming a successful and well knowing zoologiest. Im not in university anymore but doing an online course to learn more about animal reproduction and such.
What makes a zoologiest?

Not a degree ( even tho it looks great lol ) but passion and knowledge ( even my university said this, a degree or Phd just makes you look that much better)
Whos a well known biologiest, conservationest and zoologiest? Well, my hero ( God rest his soul ) Steve Irwin.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I have a few questions for those of you who groom professionally. How well does it pay for the average groomer? On the high end (i'm guessing grooming for show might pay better)? How easy or difficult is it to start your career in this field? How competitive is it? And tell me whatever else you think might be good to know about what it's like to work as a groomer.
 

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I have a few questions for those of you who groom professionally. How well does it pay for the average groomer? On the high end (i'm guessing grooming for show might pay better)? How easy or difficult is it to start your career in this field? How competitive is it? And tell me whatever else you think might be good to know about what it's like to work as a groomer.
Most of this really depends on many factors. How fast and efficient you are will be the deciding factor in annual income, as most groomers are paid on commission. It also depends on your area and the pricing for that area. Some groomers make 25k yearly and some make 60-70K or even more. Show groomers are mostly handlers, so there really arent jobs out there for just grooming show dogs. It is difficult to get started because you need to go to school, and then expect at LEAST a year of still learning the rest of the basics in order to be a decent pet groomer. It takes years of work and continued education to be an exceptional pet groomer of all common breeds, and a groomer never knows it all, even after grooming for decades. There is always something to learn. It can be difficult after school to find that first job, as finishing someone after school is time consuming for a groomer, and most are looking to hire experienced groomers. However, there are lots of jobs out there. Grooming can be stressful. You must learn how to read the dog, predict aggression, fear, and anxiety and react accordingly. You have to safely manipulate a dogs body in order to complete a groom, and do so while workng with wiggles, squirming and sometimes aggression. All while working with sharp tools. You also need to have excellent people skills, and be able to communicate with owners about what haircut they really want, as most owners just say, puppy cut, etc and there is no such universal cut. Being able to communicate clearly to people will result in repeat business and less complaints. Most complaints arise because an owner and the groomer didnt communicate properly. You have to know skin care, coat care, and what type of products and tools to use when and where. All that takes time and experience to learn. That being said, grooming is also a very rewarding job. Taking an unkempt dog and turning him into a beautiful happy dog is awesome. Its also awesome to see the looks on clients faces when they pick up their baby and are ecstatic about the trim. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thank you for your response! 25k on the low end seems reasonable enough. I don't necessarily need to be able to make a full living off of it, I just don't want to make minimum wage. And if I could work up from there, then even better! I've been bathing dogs for a while now (I've been working at a grooming and boarding place for a year and I work in bathing at least once a week) so the aggression/fear/wiggling is something I've been dealing with and I've gotten a lot better at restraining them and holding them still. I know it will be different with grooming because it's with tools and not just a dryer or water/soap that you're trying to deal with, but I think I could learn that with time. As for people skills, I'm not really a social person, but I think I could communicate efficiently enough to figure out what people want. My fiance's family said just this past weekend I'm good at explaining things when people don't know what they're trying to say. And I think I would probably keep a book with pictures handy so people could show me what they mean. I know at our place a lot of people send in pictures with their dogs for the groomers to use as a reference. I have at least a year before I decide for sure if I want to pursue grooming (finishing my history degree) but I am getting excited at the thought already. I love working with the dogs as I do now, and I think as a groomer I could be happy doing it long term. I kind of feel guilty about potentially wasting my 4 year college degree but my mom said she'd want me to have it whether I am planning on using it or not, so whatever. I just want to do something I will enjoy, and I think grooming could be it.
 

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Sounds like you have a head start because of your bathing experience, and learning how to handle the dogs. many times, thats half the battle, and the most frustrating part for new groomers. :) And its always nice to have a degree for a backup plan! :)
 
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