We often hear “dog grooming license” and “dog grooming certification” be used interchangeably. But there are significant differences between dog grooming licenses and certifications. Read all about the distinctions so you can make the best choice for your grooming career!

What is a dog grooming license?

A dog grooming license is similar to other documents that prove you’re fit for a certain role, like a driver’s license! But there is no international standard that defines what a dog grooming license is. It all depends on the local regulations, which vary from region to region.

silky coat of dog after dog grooming course

As a first step, we recommend researching what is required in your area. Some areas won’t require you to get a dog grooming license at all. Meanwhile, other areas may require a specific certification or exam. In order to obtain a specific regional certification, it’s a great idea to complete your area’s dog grooming certification exam. The right dog grooming school can prepare you for this!

Depending on where you live, you may be able to start your dog grooming career without any formal training at all. But we seriously discourage this. Without professional training, how will you know you’re doing anything right? What if you ended up hurting the dear pooch under your care? We’ve all heard grooming horror stories—don’t let yourself be at the center of one!

Do I need a dog grooming license?

In general, there are no licensing requirements to be a professional groomer. However, in certain states, a freelance groomer with their own business will require their facility to hold a Pet Grooming Facility License or a regional certification. While freelance groomers themselves do not need this license, their facility will.

Research into local regulations to find out what is required in order to start your dog grooming career. It may be as simple as taking an exam or sending in an application. Just call your local government to find out, and put the wheels in motion!

student of dog grooming school practicing brushing dog coat

I need a dog grooming license—what should I do?

So what if you actually do need one? If you require a license to operate your grooming salon, you’ll need to get in touch with your local government to request a license application. Several states require pet groomers to hold a pet care center license to operate a pet grooming business. Earning your license is a state-regulated process in these cases.

Keep in mind that a dog grooming license cannot stand on its own—they don’t actually teach you how to be a groomer! A dog grooming course will teach you how to care for your furry clients. Some dog grooming courses will actually include business units to teach you how to start your own business. So if that’s your career goal, be sure to find the right training!

What is a dog grooming certification?

You’ll earn a dog grooming certification after completing a professional dog grooming certification course. A grooming certification helps you to start a career no matter where you are! If you do need a license, we always recommend earning a certification as well.

Certification courses teach you theory and test your skills through numerous practical assignments. You’ll learn all about dog anatomy on top of how to accommodate different breed temperaments. You’ll learn how to groom every dog coat type out there, and even how to interpret breed standards!

When you complete a certification from an accredited dog grooming school, your clients will know that grooming a dog is a piece of cake for you! Depending on your career goals and interests, the grooming course you enroll in can be as specialized as you like. If you’re keen on eventually starting your own dog grooming business, you’ll want to enroll in a class that will prepare you for business ownership.

dog grooming certification

These days, online dog grooming courses are becoming popular. Online courses allow you to study, learn, and practice your skills from the comfort of your own home!  Find out why so many dog grooming schools are going online, and consider this option as you start your career – it’s more flexible and personalized!

Which one is best?

If you love the idea of one day being your own boss, then you’ll want to research into whether or not you need a license or a specific certification in order to make your dream of owning a business a reality. If you’re more focused on grooming within a salon and honing your skills for a year or two, you may not need a license at all, and can pursue a dog groomer certification instead.

It really comes down to knowing the kind of dog grooming career you want, finding out what’s required in your area, and getting proper training. Remember, training is different than simply applying for a license. Keep improving your skills, and you’ll be ready to hit the ground running as a dog groomer!

Every dog groomer needs professional tools. Check out these 7 must-haves for your dog grooming kit!

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Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Aleshia Edwards says:

    Looking to add another business to my life. Not only as the owner but fully understanding & knowing the skills how to groom.
    Relatable source of info will be appreciated in these areas.

  • Amanda bowen says:

    I own my own groomimg salon and have for almost 4 years. I would like to obtain a licenses to become a groomer, just for my own desire. How do I obtain one and what do I have to do. I do not want a certificate, I want to be a licensed groomer. My salon is The Bark Club grooming salon llc

    • Sloane Seguin says:

      Hi Amanda,

      Thanks for taking the time to leave such a great comment. It’s important to note that dog grooming is an unregulated field. As such, formal licensing is not required in order to work as a dog groomer. Most licenses associated with dog groomers actually refer to a BUSINESS license that one would need to obtain in order to legally operate their business in general (which, we assume you have, as you’ve own your own salon for the past 4 years).

      In terms of a reputable designation, on the other hand, most training courses will provide a certification + designation upon graduation. QC Pet Studies, for example, offers a self-paced, online Dog Grooming Course that can be completed from the comfort of home (yes, even during the hands-on training portions of the program) in less than a year. Graduates of this course walk away with a globally-recognized International Dog Grooming Professional™ (IDGP™) certification AND designation that can be added to their resume.

      If you’re interested in reading more about this course, you can find the full details here: https://www.qcpetstudies.com/dog-grooming-courses/dog-grooming

      If, however, you specifically want to take a professional course that ONLY provides some form of licensing, this would depend on the institution itself and the course provided. In such a case, we’d recommend doing a little Google research and seeing what’s available to you, both online and locally. 🙂

      We hope this helps! x

      All the best,
      The QC Team

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