License Requirements For a Home Dog-Grooming Business

In most states, such as New York and Michigan, you don’t need a license to run a dog grooming business from home. Some such as Connecticut you need a license as a groomer and as a grooming facility.

You need a domestic animal pest management license in Michigan if you are providing flea baths.

You can turn your love of dogs into a viable business, and you may decide to base your work at your own home, saving travel time and money. But do you need a license?

You must have the skills to do the work, and you must be able to show that you have complied with your local council officials to ensure their requirements are met.


State By State License Requirements

Most states do not require a license to operate a dog grooming business from home, but many officials highly recommend getting training and working towards some form of certification.

Licenses and certifications are both credentials that help you to demonstrate your skillset competency.

Licenses: Offered by state agencies and are sometimes required for groomers or grooming businesses. The States that insist on these, do so to ensure pets are handled safely.

Certifications: Given by non-government agencies like the NDGAA (National Dog Grooming Association of America) and are not usually mandatory. They are so you can prove you know how to groom a dog.

  • Alabama – A license is not required, but you need to prove you are skilled to get clients, so additional training with a certificate to prove your case is required.
  • California – some training is required, although a license is not a requirement here.
  • Florida  – doesn’t have requirements related to licensing or certification. However, clients will prefer a dog groomer who has had some training and can show some certification to say that you have the knowledge and experience to handle their dog.
  • Illinois – again no mandatory license, but certifications about training will boost your credibility.
  • Kansas – license and certification is not required, BUT you will need certification to get hired or to go into business. Such programs only last for 2 months and are followed by a series of theory and practical exams. All these will help you to launch a successful dog grooming business. You can also get a license issued by the International Professional Association of America to highlight your skills.
  • Nevada – they do not mandate dog groomers requiring to be licensed- but once again, they do stress that a form of certification through a reputable training program would be highly beneficial to your business.
  • Most other states have much the same policy and this includes Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin.

The exceptions include the following states. 

Utah – To get your practice license, you need to get hired and do your training on the job; otherwise, you need to attend a training program. The program you choose should be accredited by The National Dog Groomers Association of America (NDGAA) as certifications are managed by them.

Maine – Although no license is required, it would pay you to get some licensing skills to prove your prowess in the business arena.

Maryland – No license required, but you should hold certification by the National Dog Groomers Association of America.

Massachusetts– Training is necessary if you have never done dog grooming before. There are several training courses in Massachusetts, but the most common method is to do an apprenticeship. Once again, the National Dog Groomers Association of America is a highly respected entity for obtaining this certification.

Nebraska – You can get competent by getting hired and learning on the job, or you could attend a dog grooming trade college to gain certification. Licensing is not mentioned, but you do need some form of proof of previous experience.

New Jersey – this state doesn’t require licensing, BUT many employers do, and so do some clients. Check out the certification by the National Dog Groomers Association of America to learn more.

Oklahoma – although not officially required, it does pay to get a certification, or you will not be able to find work. To get a license to practise, your training needs to be accredited by the NDGAA. After you complete your study, you can apply for a license once you have completed and passed a series of exams.

Pennsylvania– although a license is not required, certification is. You must pass an exam to show your competency.

South Carolina – you will be required to obtain a certification to practise, which involves attending a training program to enhance your skills. Make sure your training program is accredited by the NDGAA

Washington – You do not need any special certification to become a dog groomer in Washington.  However, many dog grooming companies only hire candidates who have a license, so the easiest way to obtain a certification is by joining a training program through a trade school so that you can compete with experienced dog groomers.

Even when itis not mandatory to get one, a license will give you enormous credibility.

  • It shows you have acquired the necessary skills, training, and certification.
  • A license shows you are qualified to open your business.
  • A License or Certification is reassuring for clients


The Experience You Need For Your Dog Grooming Business

These are the things you need to succeed in the dog groomin business:

  • Competency in grooming dogs and how to manage them during the grooming process is a must.
  • Sometimes you may be expected to grooming cats for clients, so learning this skill adds a new dimension to your business.
  • Knowing what tools to use to get the look you are trying to give the dog.
  • It is essential to know the breed and recognize their coats’ requirements.
  • Safety precautions and first aid skills are a must.
  • You need to know to run a successful business.
  • The ‘how to’ of managing matted fur and handling troublesome breeds.
  • Anatomy and biology.

Dog owners have high expectations that you will be able to style their dog’s coat the way they want it done.

They may also have health and safety concerns, as the owner considers their dog to be their fur baby, and they want someone competent in both styling and care of their precious pooch.

This is where certification or a license carries considerable weight.

That piece of paper proves you are fully versed in your trade, which is the most important thing for dog owners. So it is worth getting a license and as much certification as you can.

To be successful as a dog groomer you need to be fully conversant with handling all types and sizes of dogs, and you need to relate well to the owners who are trusting you (a comparative stranger) with their dog whom they highly value.


A License or Certification Gives You Credibility.

It is always better to have a license as it is an official document stating that the license holder has undergone the right training and has been tested. Not only that, but an authoritative body has given the business owner written proof of their experience!

Another reason is that a license or certification is an important business tool you can use when marketing your business.

  • Number one, and the most important of all, is that a license will give you credibility. You are asking a lot of a dog owner to trust you, a stranger, to care for their beloved companion. That license means you have had some sort of authority check your business, and they have approved it.
  • Certificates from dog grooming schools where you have had training are another source of credibility. It is worth doing whatever beginners and advance training you can do as it will pay off in the long run as you will be accepted as an expert.
  • Framed qualifications or events that you worked at will raise your standing in the client’s eyes.
  • The fact that you have passed a dog training and management course is also positive feedback for the client. They know you are capable of handling their pet and know how to calm the dog down so that you can successfully groom them.

As you can appreciate, the dog grooming business is based a lot on trust – trust from the client and their dog.

Not all dogs like being washed or groomed. Some larger dogs can be quite a handful. They can become quite stressed when their owner drives away, leaving them in your hands.

You have to care for that dog until it is picked up by the owner again, therefore competence is a requirement when you are managing more than one dog. Picking out the social butterfly pup from the grumpy loner pooch is an important skill in dog management.

Careful observation will come in handy sorting those dog personalities out.


How to Get Trained for a Certificate.

I wrote this section to show how training courses can get you certificates, but not licenses. This is because certificates prove that you know how to groom dogs, but states want licenses to ensure safe pet handline.

There are plenty of schools around eager to teach you what to do but check their credentials carefully. You want a reputable establishment to teach you your tricks.

  • Some well known reputable schools include The New York School of Dog Grooming, the Nash Academy, and the American Academy of Pet Grooming.
  • Animal Behaviour College has 6000 locations all over the United States and specialises in teaching people how to handle pets effectively. This is something that will come in handy when you begin your dog grooming business. Even dogs have bad hair days, so you need how to handle them correctly and avoid injury.
  • The National Dog Groomers Association of America has training programs for certification in most states from Alabama to Wyoming.
  • The National Dog Groomer’s Association of American (NDGAA) exam will entitle you to be duly recognised as a National Certified Master Groomer. The test and certification will speak for your experience and is worth its weight in gold!!
  • While few states insist on a license to practice, they highly (AND I STRESS HIGHLY) recommend you have some training and get some form of certification before you start up in business for yourself.

The Final Cut

When you are first starting as a dog groomer, the more accreditations you can have, the better. People need a reason to trust you with their most valuable friend, and if you are licensed, they will credit you as being ‘qualified.’

  • Many dog owners investigate a dog groomer before they even call you. If you can’t give them a reason to trust you, you will never see them or hear from them.
  • The license and certificates give the client certain confidence to leave their furry soulmate with you knowing that you are the best person and most qualified to be doing this job.
  • The license gives you authority, and it gives the client assurance.
  • Once you get known as THE doggie hairstylist supreme, you can let your experience and positive client feedback do the talking for you.

But until then, get the license even though you may not need it from the local authority, and get as many qualifications and endorsements and embrace them … they are your ticket to success.


Writer: Jean Brewer

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