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As of 2001 there is no requirement for similar "vocational licensing" of pet groomers. Hair stylists for people? Yes. Animals? No.

However, you should check with your state government for any current requirements of which we may not be aware. Remember, laws change frequently between states, and the local and county governments of those states. Wherever your business will reside, is your concern at a local, state and federal level. Further, while you as a pet groomer may not be required to be formally licensed, there is a likelihood that a business license(s) to operate a pet grooming business may be required, especially if your business will reside within a major metropolitan area, or an incorporated section of even a rural town. Check with your local and state government for all business license and permit requirements well before you open your business.

In an industry without vocational licensing for pet groomers, pet owners and pets may be at risk of the services received from unqualified pet groomers. Unless pet owners inquire, they may never know that their pet groomer never attended a school of pet grooming, apprenticed for an adequate period of time with an experienced professional pet groomer or sought certification as a pet care professional. Indeed, how does the pet owner know if their pet groomer is not an untrained amateur? There are pet grooming business owners who "set up shop almost overnight" without a background of apprenticeship or formal training. Without formal vocational licensing, pet groomer certification programs have become an alternative way to communicate to pet owners that the certified pet groomer has received some level of training and undergone performance testing. Certification can build consumer confidence, but certification is not replacement for vocational licensing as you will learn below.

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The evidence of your certification is an entitlement, and sometimes includes additional rights to display the certifying organization's logo in your business and promotional materials. Certification typically involves performance testing focused on the aesthetic value of your finish grooming based on the pet's breed profile as set forth by its individual breed standard. Consumers may gain more confidence knowing that you have been certified by a reputable organization, and certainly it will distinguish you as being far removed from amateur status. The more revered entitlements typically involve the words "master groomer or master stylist', and that status requires extensive experience beyond attending a school of pet grooming or a basic apprenticeship period.

We recommend that you seek certification. However, we note that it is not an absolute requirement nor does it guarantee financial success. There are very successful pet groomers and business owners who are not certified, but you can be sure that they respect the certification process and they have a similar commitment to uphold pet care skills worthy of certification.

Though vocational licensing of pet groomers is not yet a reality, significant progress is being made to make it so. It is not likely that vocational licensing procedures will be conducted similar to certification procedures. As Kathy Rose of the Groomer Licensing Founders Committee recently stated, "Certification concentrates predominantly with the aesthetic value of grooming, with an emphasis on the finished appearance of the dog it conforms to the breed profile as set forth by the individual breed standard. Obtaining a vocational license for pet grooming would probably require an examination covering broader material, such as those which effect public, groomer and pet safety. Grooming procedures and skills for safely handling animals would be fundamental, however much room would need to be for artistic interpretation and creativity."

Sources of Certification

You've decided to be certified. Now, where do you go for certification. You should examine all of the programs offered by the following organizations, and measure the appropriateness of their certification to your personal, career and business objectives. All of these are fine and well-known organizations which we are pleased to recommend to you. Becoming certified requires time, money and effort as you will be traveling with your pet(s) to certification sites.

Companion Animal Hygienist (CAH)
Contact World Wide Pet Supplies Association (WWPSA) at 818-447-2222.

National Dog Groomers Association of America

NDGAA (18449 bytes)

International Professional Groomers

International Society of Canine Cosmetologists

National Cat Groomers Institute of America

Learn More About Vocational Licensing

Vocational licensing has been a hot topic in 1999, and it will probably be the same in 2000. You can learn more about vocational licensing in articles occasionally appearing in pet grooming trade magazines. You can also read more at our Professional Recognition Main Menu. That menu contains links to other sites covering this topic too.

Current Status of Licensing

In 2005 there was an attempt by a legislator to vocationally licensed pet groomers in California. The Bill was met with great criticism by groomers for the manner in which it is written, and not necessarily the concept of the profession being licensed. As of early 2006 the California progress went from a pending status to abandonment. In late 2005 and early 2006 there was an attempt by a legislator to vocationally license pet groomers in Pennsylvania and by mid-2006 this statement sums up the status,

"GROOMER LICENSING IN PENNSYLVANIA, In a recent letter from Samuel Denisco, Director of the Office of Legislative Affairs, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, it states that they have deemed the GROOMER LICENSING BILL not worthy of licensure. It noted that there was not "a compelling need for licensure of pet groomers in Pennsylvania. Therefore, the Department of State does not support the proposal for licensure of pet grooming in the Commonwealth." Please contact your public officials to verify this information if you like, but it certainly appears that the issue is over. I hope that this exercise in public awareness has shown the grooming community the serious need to band together so that there would be a legitimate grooming association in the state of Pennsylvania that could be called on when issues like this arise again. Many groomers have gotten together in unified meetings around the state over the licensing issue. My hope is that this effort will bring forth a strong association for the future. It is a great beginning. If there are any such associations forthcoming, please let us know at Groomer to Groomer and we will be happy to let other PA groomers know about it, too.

Sally Liddick, Barkleigh Productions

In 2006 New York state took action for the first time to license groomers after a tragic loss of 2 pets that died in an accident at a grooming business. The accident got CNN news coverage as well as other major TV stations and dozens of major metropolitan newspaper. It also sparked a large article about the risks of using pet grooming services in the Wall St. Journal. As of early 2007 we continue to watch the progress of the passage of the New York legislation. You can read more about the New York incident and follow-up in the Newswire forum at GroomerTALK Message Board.

As of 2010, not one state has yet to pass legislation requiring vocational licensing of pet groomers.

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