So, you love dogs and have decided to become a professional groomer. Congrats! At this point, one of the things you might be wondering is how much you can expect to make in this profession. For instance, how much do dog groomers make in the first year?

We’ll be straight with you: there’s no direct answer to this question. Two groomers in the same city can make completely different incomes. The reality is, there are a number of various factors that can impact how much you make in the first year (and beyond).

What are some of these factors? Is there still a way to get an approximate idea of the kind of money you’ll make? Let’s take a look at all of this!

how much do dog groomers make article, Mar 26 2021, first in-post image, Pomeranian getting paws trimmed by groomer

The Dog Groomer Salary: A Breakdown

Obviously, for dog groomers, the health and safety of your clients’ pets should always be your top priority. But let’s be real: income is always going to be an important factor for any job. After all, we all have bills to pay, mouths to feed, and a roof to keep over our heads.

So, how much can you expect to make as a dog groomer?

Firstly, you’ll need to ask yourself: where do I want to want? For instance, would you prefer to work in an established salon or start up your very own? Do you want to be a freelance groomer and work out of your home (or vehicle), or travel directly to the clients?

Working in a Grooming Salon

In a retail pet grooming environment, there are different kinds of pay structures, depending on the establishment. In some salons, you’ll receive an hourly wage. Those same salons might offer yearly salaries for long-term, experienced groomers. In others, you’ll get commissions on top of an hourly wage. Then there are also salons who only pay by commission.

Having a set income is a big reason why working for an established salon is a popular route with beginner groomers. It’s a nice way to gain experience and get your foot in the door, while also being guaranteed a minimum number of hours and a regular paycheck.

In Canada, the average hourly wage for salon groomers as of January 23rd, 2021, was $14.94 CAD. As of March 22nd, 2021, the average hourly wage was $16.07 USD in the United States. The United Kingdom noted the average hourly wage of groomers to be £10.16 as of March 20th, 2021 – while New Zealand estimates that groomers make approx. $19.46 NZD at the start of their careers. Coming in with the highest average hourly wage on this list is Australia, with a base hourly rate of $22.14 AUD as of March 16th, 2021.

Working as a Freelance Groomer or Owning Your Own Salon

It’s a bit trickier to provide stats for these, because it all really depends on you. The more effort you put into your business, the better your chances will be of success. In turn, the better you’re income will be! If you do very little to get your business seen or obtain the proper educational background for your skill-set, you’ll probably make significantly less.

Running your own business can come with some overhead costs, though. Moreover, you’ll need to invest some money in order to get your business off the ground. Regardless of whether you’re operating out of your home, a vehicle, or at your client’s place, you’ll need to stock up on all the right equipment. Your grooming kit will need to be reliable and of good quality. Moreover, if you wish to start your own salon, there will be additional costs to consider for the place of business itself.

If you choose to start your own business, the first year will likely be the hardest. After all, in order to run a successful business, you need to spend money to make money. Your first year will be the time when you’re putting things into place, working out the kinks, establishing yourself, and slowly building up your clientele.

But if you’re passionate about what you do and know this is the career for you, don’t give up! Once you’ve gotten into the swing of things and your business has been running for a while, you’ll start seeing all of your investments returned to you!

How Much Do Dog Groomers Make in the First Year?: 3 Factors That’ll Impact Your Income

Professional Training/Certification

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: if a client had to choose between a groomer with no professional training and one with a reputable certification, they will ALWAYS go with the latter. Even though a certification isn’t mandatory for the job, not getting properly trained will severely cost you in the long run.

Having a legitimate certification to your name makes you trustworthy in the eyes of potential clients. As such, by having one, you’ll be drastically increasing your chances of getting more bookings. Furthermore, you’ll also be a stronger candidate to prospective employers.

Another nice thing about getting professionally trained and certified is that it allows you the chance to potentially increase your starting salary. If you’re a freelancer or run your own grooming business, do some research and find out what the going rate is for groomers in your area. Because you’ve put time, effort, and money into your education, you’ve earned the right to set your rates a little bit higher than other groomers in your area who don’t have the same level of training.

If you’re applying to be a groomer at an established business, you might also be able to negotiate a slightly higher hourly wage, since you’ll be coming into the business with proper training and a certification already under your belt.

puppy getting nails trimmed by dog groomer


Location also plays a major role in how much dog groomers can make in their first year. Do you live in a small town or a large city? If you live in a smaller area, are you close enough to a larger location that travel would be easy?

For instance, the going rate will likely be higher in a big city – meaning that your rates or hourly wage will typically be more than what you’d make in a smaller town. That being said, there’ll be a lot more competition, too. You’ll need to work that much harder to make a name for yourself.

On the other hand, living in a small town could mean far less competitors. You could corner the market on dog grooming and quickly become known for being the best in town. However, a smaller population could also mean a smaller demand for your services. Thus, finding enough clients to fill a full-time schedule might be challenging at times.

Regardless of where you live, there will be advantages and disadvantages. However, the right business moves on your end can turn any living situation around in your favor! It’s just a matter of doing your research, being proactive, and creating opportunities for yourself!

dog on laptop

Marketing Strategies

As a Salon Employee

These days, you need to play a direct role in marketing yourself if you want your career to thrive. Now, if you work in an established salon, there won’t be as much work involved (since the business will likely have its own team responsible for marketing).

Of course, it’s still important to be your own best representation! If you work for an employer, how you conduct yourself on the job will go a long way. Always be professional, respectful, and pleasant with customers. More importantly, always handle their dogs with care and love. Start and finish their experience at the salon with a smile. This kind of excellent customer service will not only reflect well upon the salon; it’ll leave a lasting impression about YOU as the groomer.

As a Business Owner

If you’re running your own grooming business, marketing will be a HUGE necessity. Here are some critical things you should do to get yourself seen, attract clients, turn new customers into repeat clients, and better your bottom line:

  • Build a polished, professional business website;
  • Create social media pages and post unique content on them regularly;
  • As you gather positive reviews, showcase them on both your website and social media;
  • Buy ads on platforms like Google and Facebook to target your ideal audience(s);
  • Find additional ways to add unique content to your business, such as starting a blog or video series about dog grooming;
  • Create a client retention system (i.e. customer rewards program, referral program, etc.).

As you take the first step towards your dream career as a dog groomer, remember: with the right strategies, you can easily make a good wage. That being said, the most important thing for this kind of job should always be your passion for the craft.

So long as you truly love what you do, success and happiness will always find you.

We wish you the best of luck on your exciting journey! 💕

Become a certified dog groomer in less than a year by enrolling with QC Pet Studies today!

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