“Dear Michell, I have been grooming dogs for many years.  Recently I had a new groomer start working at my salon who is interested in getting certified.  I am trying to decide if I am going to get involved.  I say, I have been grooming all this time without it, why do it now?  Does anyone really care if I am certified?  I already have loyal customers who respect me.  What’s in it for me?”  – Mandy K.

As you mature in your career, you look for ways to work smarter, not harder. Certification is a simple way to do that. The credential of being a certified groomer is one of the simplest come-backs you can offer to the questions, “Why are you raising your prices?” or “Why are your prices higher than the shop down the street?” Consider raising your price with each passed phase of your certification.

Ask yourself, would some outside critiques help improve my styles? Often groomers have no idea if their styles are correct. They learned from a groomer who learned from a groomer who taught them to do it this way and so that is how it is done. But is it? Your clients seem happy, but could they be impressed by a better style? Could you raise your prices and do one less dog per day for the same income?

Another great reason to go through a certification process is to break the monotony of grooming. You say you have been grooming for many years. Going through a certification process could put new wind in your sails for your work.Certification gives you more to offer to your clients. The learning process is the whole point of any certification. The knowledge is what gives the piece of paper its value. The things that you learn from your studies and practice grooms is where the improvement comes from. You will be a better groomer after certifying. It is pretty much impossible not to be. Your clients will notice the difference in the quality of your grooming and in your confidence. This usually translates into better tips!

One of the most common misconceptions about certifying is that YOU are somehow being judged. This is absurd. Your groom is being judged, not you. Your certifier frankly does not have the authority nor desire to judge you as a person. They look at the groom and determine if the haircut is correct or in need of improvement. That is all.

As long as your head is in the sand about your grooming, your styles will not improve. The only way to know that you need improvement, and where, is to get some suggestions from someone who knows to guide you in the right direction. Certification offers this. Look at your critique as a tool to know where you need improvement. Once you know better, you will do better.

Another misconception is that you will pass all of your exams on the first try. Be prepared to re–take a few of your exams.  It is not uncommon to find out that you are not on the right track with your styles, prep-work, and/or techniques. Your critiques will help you the second time around. Also, after you have taken one written exam, you will have a much better idea of what the questions are like and what to study for the next exam. Re-takes are the absolute best judge of your improvement!

There are several major certifying agencies in the United States; National Dog Groomers Association of America, International Professional Groomers Incorporated, and the International Society of Canine Cosmetology to name a few. They are all pretty much the same concept. There are a series of written exams and practical exams. They all have membership fees, study materials to purchase, workshops to attend, and exam fees to be paid.  There are new certifying agencies and programs popping up, like the AKC Safety In the Salon Certification, and don’t forget cat grooming certification too!

It is so worth it, Mandy!✂

I am a multi-Best-In-Show and Best-All-Around groomer. I am the recipient of many Barkleigh Honors Awards. I am a Silver and Gold medalist for GroomTeam USA. I am the winner of Show Dog Groomer of the Year. I am an educator for Andis Clipper Company. I have been teaching as The Grooming Tutor since 2000. And I groom to make a living, just like you. Please send questions to
[email protected]