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Professional Grooming Marketplace: Tips for Choosing a Grooming School

Posted: Oct. 22, 2012, 6:45 p.m. EDT


By Eileen Moon

Increasingly, groomers are turning to certification to build their job skills and establish basic procedures and best practices for the profession.

“With laws like SB-969 moving its way through the California legislature, basic standards will need to be established and agreed to by all,” said Steven Appelbaum, president and CEO of the Animal Behavior College in Valencia, Calif.

However, choosing a particular school to attend may not be so straight forward, and there are many considerations for those in the industry to keep in mind. Groomers seeking to update their skills should do their homework when selecting a trade school, American Grooming Academy’s Clark said. In California, grooming schools are supposed to be licensed and registered with the state, she reported.

“You want to see if the school is in compliance,”  said Angela Clark, owner of American Grooming Academy in Temecula, Calif. “And you want to see what the environment is like.”

Grooming school
When considering a trade school, groomers should ask to see the written curriculum. Does it include instruction in anatomy, pet health and safety? Does it provide hands-on instruction?

“If I walk into your school and you don’t have the actual curriculum, how am I going to hold you accountable?” Clark stated. “If it’s in writing, you are telling me what you are offering me. That’s the difference between a school and apprenticing.”

Finding out about other groomers’ experiences with educational providers is a good move, as well.

“There are several avenues available for ongoing education,” said Taria Avery, CEO of Avery’s Pet Styling Salon and Boutique in Philadelphia. “Groomers should look for educational sources that are professional, come highly recommended, and are complaint-free.”

Once a groomer picks a school, the best bet to find the right courses is to get involved, network with expert groomers, and review available courses from reputable sources, Avery reported.

“When you invest in yourself, especially in education, it’s becomes part of your DNA,” she said. “No one can ever take that away.”

Prioritizing educational opportunities also allows groomers to identify and keep up with trends, and thereby better serve customers.

“Grooming techniques change, styles change, and groomers can always learn new tips and tricks of the trade to help them in their job,” said Gail Benedict, owner of The Posh Pup Pet Boutique and Spa in Tulsa, Okla.

Without updating their skills, groomers may be caught unaware of changing market demand for different styles.

“In this industry, there are always new things to develop,” said David Brody, manager of the New York School of Dog Grooming in New York City.

A few decades ago, often sported elaborate cuts such as the “Dutch Clip” or the “Town and Country,” Brody reported.

“[Now], you’ll never see a poodle walking around like that,” he said, adding that today’s poodle owners prefer a lamb clip or a puppy clip, with the fur all at one length.

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