What It Takes to Be a Competitive Groomer
The world’s best football players go to the Super Bowl. The world’s best baseball players go to the World Series. Where do the world’s best pet groomers go? World Team Competitions—the “big dance” for the grooming profession. With the grooming and boarding industry at an all-time high—doubling over the past decade to reach $8 billion in revenue in 2018—the demand for top-quality professional grooming and pet services is strong and growing. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the job category that includes grooming and pet services will increase by 11 percent by 2023—faster than the overall economy as a whole. With more than 115,000 grooming and pet service businesses in the U.S. employing more than 211,000 professionals, the market itself is competitive, and success depends on keeping skills as sharp as shears and knowledge as on point as scissor tips.
Grooming competitions showcase these sharp skills and on-trend techniques, offer cash and prizes, and serve as an excellent way to build brand awareness. But the training doesn’t come cheap—or without sacrifice. I’m in awe of what these groomers go through just to make it on the big stage. Here’s a look into what it takes to shine in the world of competitive grooming.
Considering a career path in grooming means committing to taking courses that can be costly and take awhile to complete. At New York ’s American Academy of Pet Grooming, for example, the nine-month Basic Program costs upward of $5,000, while the Advanced Master Pet Stylist Program costs upward of $7,000. While a lot of training can take place on the job and through apprenticeships, groomers must keep up with certifications, skills and continuing education to remain marketable in such a competitive landscape—and to enter and win national and international competitions.
To a competitive groomer, much like any other artist, a dog is a “living canvas”—and their grooming, a work of art. As such, participants in grooming contests spend time and energy perfecting their craft, practicing basic skills like prep work, clipper work, balance and symmetry on their own dog, and attending grooming competitions as a spectator to learn from others’ techniques and keep up on grooming trends such as Asian fusion and geometric grooming.
As with any competition, rules and regulations are the foundation of grooming contests. While some might be consistent for all competitions—breed standards, for example—others might be show specific. Whether you’re a first-time competitor or a veteran participant, reading the rules thoroughly is imperative. Staying up-to-date on breed standards is key. Connecting with official competition teams and organizations, such as GroomTeam USA, can be a good way to stay on top of new rules, industry information and the vast amount of competitions that take place throughout the year.
With the grooming industry continuing to expand, new trends continue to arise to meet with consumers’ growing demand for high-quality professional and safe grooming services. Excelling in grooming competitions means staying on top of these trends in order to maintain a competitive edge. One way to keep your skills sharp is to witness innovation in action at events such as Atlanta Pet Fair & Conference, North America’s largest grooming competition and pet services show. Here, you’ll connect with thousands of pet professionals representing the full spectrum of the pet services industry, learn from industry-leading experts, gain hands-on experience through skills-building sessions, and network with creative innovators dedicated to advancing the world of grooming.
Featuring the year’s most comprehensive schedule of grooming competitions, Atlanta Pet Fair & Conference is where the best and brightest in the grooming business go to showcase their skills and compete with top challengers in categories such as Hand Stripping, Poodles, Scissoring Class and Other Purebreds, and also in specialty classes. Plus, with cash and prizes valued at more than $29,000, it’s where hard work meets high reward and recognition.
Jacinthe Moreau is the president of World Pet Association (WPA). Moreau has broad international experience in the animal health industry. Her career trajectory, which includes a variety of roles at companies such as Vetoquinol, Merial, Merck, VetSource and VCA Animal Hospitals, prepared her to lead WPA.