How to Become a Dog Groomer in California

Good reasons to become a dog or pet groomer in California include:

  • CA is the top state in the nation for animal care employment
  • CA is #4 state in the country for animal care pay

source: Bureau of Labor

Education & Training

Your first step on the journey is to enroll in a training program that will show you the ropes.

Benefits of a Program

You will learn all the skills needed to become a professional pet groomer.

This program also prepares you for industry certification through the American Veterinary Medical Association.

American Veterinary Medical Foundation logo

What Do They Teach You?

  1. Overview of Pet Grooming
    • Introduction to the field, equipment essentials, professional conduct, and effective communication with pet owners.
  2. Student Resources and Study Skills
    • Learning to navigate online courses, use of Penn Foster’s resources, and development of independent learning skills.
  3. Dog and Cat Backgrounds
    • Detailed study of the origins, characteristics, and handling of various dog and cat breeds.
  4. Basic Grooming Procedures
    • Introduction to grooming equipment, dog preparation steps, and fundamental grooming techniques.
  5. Breed-Specific Grooming Standards
    • Comprehensive grooming guidelines for multiple dog breed groups including terrier, nonsporting, and toy breeds.
  6. Advanced Pet Grooming
    • Special grooming considerations for poodles, mixed breeds, and early grooming experiences for puppies.
  7. Handling and Behavior
    • Techniques for dealing with different dog personalities and behavior problems during grooming sessions.
  8. Grooming Cats
    • Special considerations for grooming cats, understanding their personalities, and specific grooming methods.
  9. Business Skills for Pet Groomers
    • Fundamental business skills for starting a grooming business, dealing with complaints, and managing the financial aspects of grooming.

How Much Does It Cost?

$899 if paid in total upfront.  There are payment plans available to make it more affordable.

Training Duration

While the flexibility of online learning allows you to study at your own pace, most students complete it in 3 to 6 months.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a pet groomer in California is approximately $19.19 per hour, or $39,710 per year.

Additional estimates include the following:

State Requirements

California has no specific state-mandated licensing requirements for becoming a pet or dog groomer.

However, starting a business involves several key steps and requirements.

  1. First, you must obtain a business license from your local city or county government, typically through your local city hall or county clerk’s office.
  2. If you plan to operate under a name other than your own, you must file a Fictitious Business Name (FBN) Statement with your county through the California Secretary of State.
  3. Additionally, if you plan to sell pet grooming products, you will need a seller’s permit from the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration, which can be applied online.
  4. It is also essential to check with your local planning department to ensure that your business location complies with local zoning laws, as additional permits may be required based on your location.
  5. Lastly, adhering to health and safety regulations is crucial, which may include inspections and adherence to sanitary practices to ensure a safe environment for pets

Career Overview

Job Description & Duties

The job of a pet groomer entails providing grooming services to maintain the cleanliness and appearance of pets.

Specific duties may include:

  • Bathing and Brushing: Provide bathing and brushing services to maintain pets’ hygiene.
  • Fur Trimming: Trim and style fur according to breed standards or owner preferences.
  • Nail Clipping: Clip pets’ nails to a safe and comfortable length.
  • Ear Cleaning: Clean pets’ ears to prevent infections and maintain ear health.
  • Health Inspections: Inspect pets for signs of skin conditions, parasites, or other health issues.
  • Recommendations for Veterinary Care: Recommend veterinary care if any health issues are detected.
  • Maintaining Clean Work Environments: Keep the grooming area clean and sanitized.
  • Animal Handling: Handle animals with care to ensure their comfort and safety.
  • Customer Service: Provide excellent customer service to pet owners, addressing their needs and concerns.

Dog Groomer Accessories & Equipment

  • High-quality clippers with adjustable blades are crucial for precise grooming, while various types of grooming scissors, including straight, curved, and thinning shears, are necessary for detailed work.
  • Combs and brushes, such as slicker brushes and de-matting combs, help manage different coat types.
  • A sturdy, adjustable grooming table provides a safe workspace, and forced-air dryers ensure efficient drying after baths.
  • Groomers use specialized shampoos and conditioners tailored to different skin and coat types to maintain pet hygiene.
  • Nail clippers and grinders are needed for trimming and smoothing nails, and ear-cleaning supplies help prevent infections.
  • Grooming loops and restraints keep pets secure during grooming, and aprons and gloves protect groomers.
  • Finally, sanitizers and disinfectants are used to clean tools and workspaces, ensuring a hygienic environment.

Generally, it’s wise to maintain a clean and safe environment by regularly sanitizing grooming tools and areas, handling pets properly, and adhering to health and safety standards.

Types of Dogs You Might Encounter

You’ll encounter various dispositions as a dog breeder, including anxious and aggressive dogs requiring specific handling approaches.

  • Friendly & Sociable Dogs like Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers thrive on human interaction. Consistent positive reinforcement and ample socialization help nurture their friendly nature.
  • Independent and Reserved Breeds, such as Shiba Inus and Afghan Hounds, can be aloof and less dependent on human attention. They require patient training and respect for their space to build trust and rapport.
  • Protective and Loyal Dogs like Doberman Pinschers and Rottweilers are naturally guarding and devoted to their families. Early socialization and firm, consistent training help manage their protective instincts.
  • High-energy and intelligent people like Border Collies and Australian Shepherds need significant mental and physical stimulation. Engaging them with training, puzzles, and regular exercise prevents boredom and destructive behavior.
  • Anxious Breeds like Greyhounds and some rescue dogs may exhibit nervous behavior and fearfulness. A calm environment, gradual exposure to new experiences, and positive reinforcement can help alleviate their anxiety.
  • Aggressive Dogs, such as some Terriers and poorly socialized breeds, require careful handling. Professional training, early socialization, and clear, consistent boundaries are essential to manage and reduce aggressive tendencies.

By understanding and adapting to each breed’s unique characteristics, breeders can ensure adequate training and foster positive dog behavior.


Implementing Client Grooming Agreements to outline services, pricing, and policies regarding cancellations, late arrivals, and pet behavior is an additional way to set clear expectations and protect you and your clients.

If you’re considering hiring staff, employee contracts should define job roles, responsibilities, working hours, and compensation and include confidentiality agreements and non-compete clauses. Ensure compliance with labor laws, including minimum wage requirements and workers’ compensation insurance, and provide thorough training.

Places that Employ Pet Groomers

In California, pet groomers can find employment in various settings, including pet salons, veterinary clinics, and retail pet stores.

Here are a few examples of places that employ pet groomers:

The Dog House Salon: Located in San Francisco, this boutique grooming salon offers specialized grooming services and often seeks experienced groomers.

Hollywood Grooming: Based in Los Angeles, Hollywood Grooming provides mobile grooming services, employing groomers who travel to clients’ homes.

Beverly Hills Pet Hotel: This luxury pet boarding and grooming facility in Beverly Hills hires skilled groomers to cater to high-end clients.

VCA Animal Hospitals: VCA provides grooming services at many of its hospital locations throughout California.