Animal groomer

An animal groomer


Animal groomers are in charge of grooming a range of animals, using the correct equipment, materials and methods. It includes use of appropriate and safe handling techniques and the promotion of good hygiene, health and welfare of the animal. 

The duties of an animal groomer include, but are not limited to:

  • Dematting and detangling hair as required.
  • Bathing, conditioning, and drying pets.
  • Trimming pets’ nails, brushing their teeth, and cleaning their ears.
  • Grooming and styling pets according to pet owners’ instructions or standard grooming styles.
  • Accommodating special requests that pet owners may have.
  • Identifying health issues in pets, such as ear infections, skin conditions, or tooth decay, and informing pet owners of these observations.
  • Ensuring that all pets are safe during the grooming process.
  • Routinely cleaning work areas.
  • Recommending suitable products to pet owners.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to animal groomer:

animal groomers
dog groomer
dog grooming specialist
horse groomer
groomer of animals
cat groomer
pet groomer
animal grooming service provider
animal grooming specialist
poultry groomer

Working conditions

Animal groomers work in a variety of settings, including animal shelters, kennels, pet stores, veterinary clinics, and grooming salons. They may also be self-employed and work out of their homes.

Most animal groomers work full time, and some work evenings and weekends to accommodate their clients’ schedules.

Animal groomers typically work in well-ventilated and clean areas. However, they may be exposed to unpleasant odors and to potential injuries from bites and scratches. They also may be exposed to infectious diseases, such as rabies, when handling animals.

Minimum qualifications

Although a formal education is not mandatory for pet groomers, some choose to attend an accredited grooming school to learn the trade. Most, however, learn on the job from experienced animal groomers. Regardless of the source of their training, animal groomers learn how to bathe animals, use clippers and scissors to create a style, which styles are standard for which breeds and other practical elements of grooming animals.

Those who choose to attend a formal training program receive instruction in basic animal anatomy and skin care, sanitation procedures, safety and nutrition related to coat and skin health. Depending on the program, they may also take classes covering the business side of animal grooming.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Animal groomer is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Animal groomer career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to animal groomer.

pet sitter
animal handler
live animal transporter
animal care attendant
animal welfare inspector

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of animal groomer. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of animal groomer with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

animal hydrotherapist
animal massage therapist
equine dental technician
animal embryo transfer technician
alternative animal therapist

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of animal groomer.

  • Biosecurity related to animals: Awareness of hygiene and bio-security measures when working with animals, including causes, transmission and prevention of diseases and use of policies, materials and equipment.
  • Signs of animal illness: Physical, behavioural and environmental signs of health and ill health in various animals.
  • Animal welfare legislation: The legal boundaries, codes of professional conduct, national and EU regulatory frameworks and legal procedures of working with animals and living organisms, ensuring their welfare and health.
  • Animal welfare: Universally recognized animal welfare needs as applied to species, situation and occupation. These are:
    • need for a suitable environment
    • need for a suitable diet
    • need to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns
    • need to be housed with, or apart, from other animals
    • need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease.
  • Physiology of animals: The study of the mechanical, physical, bioelectrical and biochemical functioning of animals, their organs and their cells.
  • Safe work practices in a veterinary setting: Safe work practices in a veterinary setting in order to identify hazards and associated risks so as to prevent accidents or incidents. This includes injury from animals, zoonotic diseases, chemicals, equipment and working environment.
  • Anatomy of animals: The study of animal body parts, their structure and dynamic relationships, on a level as demanded by the specific occupation.
  • Animal species: The characteristics of different species and breeds of animals (relevant to the occupation).
  • Animal behaviour: The natural behavioural patterns of animals, i.e. how normal and abnormal behaviour might be expressed according to species, environment, human-animal interaction and occupation.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of animal groomer.

  • Treat animals ethically: Carry out activities according to accepted principles of right and wrong, including transparency in work practices and conduct towards clients and their animals.
  • Control animal movement: Direct, control or restrain some or part of an animal’s, or a group of animals’, movement.
  • Dry dog’s coat for further treatment: Dry a dog’s coat and skin and prepare it for styling and finishing, using the appropriate equipment and products.
  • Manage animal biosecurity: Plan and use appropriate biosafety measures to prevent transmission of diseases and ensure effective overall biosecurity. Maintain and follow biosecurity procedures and infection control when working with animals, including recognising potential health issues and taking appropriate action, communicating site hygiene control measures and biosecurity procedures, as well as reporting to others.
  • Bathe dogs: Prepare dog by removing excess hair, knots and tangles. Bathe and clean a dog’s coat and skin.
  • Handle customer complaints: Administer complaints and negative feedback from customers in order to address concerns and where applicable provide a quick service recovery.
  • Provide first aid to animals: Administer emergency treatment to prevent deterioration of the condition, suffering and pain until veterinary assistance can be sought. Basic emergency treatment needs to be done by non-veterinarians prior to first-aid provided by a veterinarian. Non-veterinarians providing emergency treatment are expected to seek treatment by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
  • Provide facilities for animal grooming services: Provide appropriate facilities for animal grooming services. This includes selection of the types of equipment and ensuring hygiene and bio-security standards.
  • Plan dog grooming work: Assess customer wishes and plan dog grooming work;. Assess the dog’s head shape and its type of coat, recognising signs of abnormalities, and select the appropriate methods and equipment.
  • Apply safe work practices in a veterinary setting: Apply safe work practices in a veterinary setting in order to identify hazards and associated risks so as to prevent accidents or incidents. This includes injury from animals, zoonotic diseases, chemicals, equipment and work environments.
  • Manage animal hygiene: Plan and use appropriate hygiene measures to prevent transmission of diseases and ensure an effective overall hygiene. Maintain and follow hygiene procedures and regulations when working with animals, communicate site hygiene controls and protocols to others. Manage the safe disposal of waste according to destination and local regulations.
  • Handle veterinary emergencies: Handle unforeseen incidents concerning animals and circumstances which call for urgent action in an appropriate professional manner.
  • Monitor the welfare of animals: Monitor animals’ physical condition and behaviour and report any concerns or unexpected changes, including signs of health or ill-health, appearance, condition of the animals’ accommodation, intake of food and water and environmental conditions.
  • Advise on animal welfare: Prepare and provide information to individuals or groups of people on how to promote the health and well-being of animals, and how risks to animal health and welfare may be reduced. Provide recommendations for corrective actions.
  • Groom animals: Prepare the environment for grooming, select the correct grooming equipment and grooming methods for the animal. Apply occupational health and safety principles of basic animal anatomy and physiology, including the identification and reporting of any abnormalities.
  • Style a dog’s coat: Style and finish a dog’s coat using various trimming methods. Make sure to follow the standards for how different breeds should look.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of animal groomer. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Environmental enrichment for animals: Types, methods and use of enrichment for animals to allow the expression of natural behaviour, including the provision of environmental stimuli, feeding activities, puzzles, items for manipulation, social and training activities.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of animal groomer. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Take advantage of learning opportunities in veterinary science: Use different channels and learning styles such as journals, courses, and conferences to obtain new information, knowledge, skills, and know-how in relation to working with animals.
  • Understand the animal’s situation: Categorise and verify information about the environment and its impact on the animal. Analyse the situation, such as what the animal may want or need.
  • Communicate with customers: Respond to and communicate with customers in the most efficient and appropriate manner to enable them to access the desired products or services, or any other help they may require.
  • Cope with challenging circumstances in the veterinary sector: Maintain a positive attitude during challenging situations such as a misbehaving animal. Work under pressure and adapt to the circumstances in a positive manner.’
  • Follow work schedule: Manage the sequence of activities in order to deliver completed work on agreed deadlines by following a work schedule.
  • Manage a small-to-medium business: Manage the organisational, financial and day-to-day operation of a small-to-medium enterprise.
  • Calculate rates per hours: Make simple calculations regarding the money that should be earned in relation to the number of hours worked.
  • Assess animal’s condition: Inspect the animal for any external signs of parasites, disease or injury. Use this information to determine own actions and report your findings to owners.
  • Apply numeracy skills: Practise reasoning and apply simple or complex numerical concepts and calculations.
  • Assist customers: Provide support and advice to customers in making purchasing decisions by finding out their needs, selecting suitable service and products for them and politely answering questions about products and services.
  • Manage animal welfare: Plan, manage and evaluate the application of the five universally recognised animal welfare needs as appropriate to species, situation and own occupation.
  • Make decisions regarding the animal’s welfare: Make a choice from several alternative possibilities that promote the animal’s well-being.
  • Understand the needs of animals: Learn and understand the needs of an animal and practice concern for its well-being, no matter how small the task.
  • Interview animal owners on animals’ conditions: Ask questions appropriate to the setting and purpose, with the aim to elicit accurate information on the animal’s health condition, in order to facilitate a correct diagnosis.
  • Deal with challenging people: Work safely and communicate effectively with individuals and groups of people who are in challenging circumstances. This would include recognition of signs of aggression, distress, threatening and how to address them to promote personal safety and that of others.

ISCO group and title

5164 – Pet groomers and animal care workers

  1. Animal groomer – ESCO
  2. Animal Care and Service Workers : Occupational Outlook Handbook – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  3. Pet Groomer Job Description – Chron
  4. Pet Groomer Job Description – Betterteam
  5. Pet Groomer Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More – Climb the Ladder
  6. Featured image: Photo by Gustavo Fring
Last updated on November 26, 2022

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