You have completed the Animal Behavior College Grooming Instruction Program, or maybe you have just completed your basic groomer training elsewhere, but now you want to expand that knowledge, improve your scissor skills, and make your grooms look worthy of the show ring! Achieving your Certified Master Groomer status through any of the grooming industry organizations is the highest level of certification the grooming industry has to offer. Of course, the grooming industry is always evolving so the learning never ends, but achieving this status demonstrates your dedication to learning techniques and obtaining knowledge. It also shows your willingness to undergo judgement by top grooming industry peers to achieve professional recognition.
Currently, you can achieve your Certified Master Groomer status (Note the different organizations might have a slightly different certification titles) through the National Dog Groomers Association of America (NDGAA), International Professional Groomers Inc. (IPG), International Society of Canine Cosmetology (ISCC), Intellectual Groomers Association (IGA), Canadian Professional Pet Stylists, and National Groomer Association of Canada (NGAC). Each organization has different requirements for testing; however, all include written exams and practical testing which requires you to demonstrate your grooming skills on different breeds with various coats. For example, the NDGAA requires you to groom a Poodle or Bichon Frise, a dog from the Sporting Group, and two different terriers. Each organization offers seminars, certification guidelines, and other membership benefits. Check out the links to each organization provided at the end of this article.
How can you get ready for testing?
The best advice is to attend as many grooming trade shows and seminars as you can find. You can even find seminars that are online, many of which are free! Always be sure that the seminars are being instructed by valued industry professionals. Be wary of YouTube, although it can be a great resource for information, not everything being said is quality information. Many seminars are sponsored by product distributors like Wahl and Andis, for example, so be sure to sign up for leading grooming manufacturer’s mailing lists to be aware of upcoming events.
Online resources for the latest grooming industry news include PetGroomer.com which usually has updated lists of industry events and seminars along with tons of industry information, a free online magazine, plus a huge job posting area. Also, Groomer to Groomer which is a free grooming industry magazine that will keep you up to date on the industry as well as sponsoring many events and seminars. Of course, don’t be afraid to join Facebook grooming groups and learn from your fellow groomers!
For practical learning, you will need hands on training. If the opportunity arises, try working with or for a groomer who has achieved their Master Groomer status. Since they have already been through the certification, their help will be invaluable. Some of your coworkers might also be active in the dog show world, meaning they may show a specific breed of dog. For example, if your fellow coworker shows Cocker Spaniels, ask them if you could help them brush their dogs and if they would be willing to teach you to groom the breed properly. Most groomers, and dog breed enthusiasts, love to share their knowledge, so don’t be afraid to ask.
In fact, if you have always wanted that Cocker Spaniel, for example, but cannot have one at this time, breeders are another great recourse for practical learning. Look in your area for Cocker Spaniel breeders. Once you find one, explain that you are a groomer wishing to learn more about grooming the breed properly in the hopes of achieving your Master Grooming status and hope they have the time and willingness to share their knowledge of the breed. You can also attend a dog show in your area and ask the same thing; however, not everyone there is local. You have to build a relationship with the breeder for them to trust you with their dog and for them to share their knowledge. Again, most love to talk about their breed, and their dogs specifically, but they also don’t want their time to be wasted. Be sure when you contact breeders, or a fellow groomer, that you are always professional, communicative, and courteous of their time. The relationships you make with the people who help you on your journey to Master Groomer status can become life long, so treat them as you would a dear friend.
The journey to Master Groomer status can be long and take a lot of your time, travel, and money, but the rewards are so worth it! The sense of accomplishment when you receive that certificate cannot be put into words. The certification provides you with instant credibility as a professional, can help you gain more income, validates your expertise, and will give you a sense of accomplishment that, even after many years, will continue to fill you with pride. Stay pawsitive and happy grooming!
National Dog Groomers Association of America (NDGAA) NDGAA (nationaldoggroomers.com)
International Professional Groomers Inc. (IPG) Home (ipgicmg.com)
International Society of Canine Cosmetology (ISCC) ISCC Education, Dog Grooming Certifications, Pet Styling | Garland, TX
Intellectual Groomers Association (IJA) Home (intellectualgroomers.com)
Canadian Professional Pet Stylists http://canpropetstylists.ca
National Groomer Association of Canada (NGAC) http://nationalgroomer.com