Professional certification can be found in almost every industry in the United States. Auto repair, nursing, and technology - to name a few - are professions that have voluntary or mandatory certification organizations.
The pet grooming certification testing is the process of publicly proving you know what you're doing.
The certification process includes education and experience as well as written and practical testing. Successful completion of each phase demonstrates a level of mastery in the grooming profession.
Is the process of passing the certification testing easy? No. It's challenging and time-consuming. It can be stressful and frustrating.
But why shouldn't this be the case? If you want to demonstrate mastery of your craft, shouldn't the process be rigorous? Shouldn't it mean something? Shouldn't it be a true reflection of the skill and artistry of your craft?
If certification were easy, if the standards were simpler, it would devalue the accomplishment of being a Certified Master. As you pass each section it's validation that you are an expert at your craft. It's inspiring. It's exciting. It's rewarding.
So why should you do it - other than to get the certificate to hang on the wall?
I can tell you why I did it. You might be able to identify with some of my struggles and why I chose this path so early in my career.
I started grooming in the late 70's. It was not necessarily my career choice. However, I was working at a kennel and when the groomer was fired I went from being kennel help to groomer, overnight. I had no formal training. All I had was a book and a patient boss. She helped me the best she could. On my first day I had six dogs to get through - not an easy way to get started! My early work was LESS than dazzling!
There were no certification organizations when I first started grooming. However, the kennel I worked at was progressive. We got the industry newsletters and magazines that were available at the time. I started seeing articles about this new group that would become the first voluntary pet grooming certification testing organization.
A few years went by and my skills improved - slightly. I started going to conformation dog shows. I learned about grooming competitions. The voluntary certification testing organization was picking up speed, too.
About that same time, I got married and moved. I started my first grooming business, Four Paws Mobile Grooming. Keep in mind that this is back in the early 80's. No one had heard of mobile grooming back then. My company took off like wildfire. I was only 22 years old. In less than a year, I added a second truck and hired my first employee. Less than a year after that I added two vans at once and hired more groomers. Within five years, I had six vans on the road and a team of groomers working for me.
Being young and having to hire experienced groomers was very challenging. I quickly realized I needed to have an edge. I needed to have the knowledge and the skills to gain the respect I needed to be their leader. I needed some way to learn advanced quality pet grooming techniques. I needed verification I knew what I was doing. I needed confidence. I wasn't going to succeed in any of that if I didn't step out of my comfort zone and push my educational resources.
Did I want to take the time it was going to take to learn everything I needed to pass these tests? Heck no.
I wasn't the best student in school. I certainly wasn't looking forward to this process - especially taking those tests! But I was determined to gain the respect of my staff. I knew putting in the time and effort to earn my Certified Master Groomer status was what I needed to do.
Ultimately, I thoroughly enjoyed the process once I got started. I loved the learning aspect. I marked up my books. Pages were highlighted. Notes were written in the margins. I had sticky notes everywhere helping me identify key areas. I was passionate about being the best I could be. I could instantly transfer and apply what I was learning to my daily grooming appointments.
In the end, going through the process served myself and my team well. Certification quickly helped me turn my new business into a thriving company. I could network with other pet professionals who mirrored my beliefs and ethics. Become a Certified Master Groomer was the foundation work I needed to start building a career that always pushed me to new heights.
Here are seven reasons I would encourage you to become a Certified Master Groomer.
- Certification is a valuable tool for learning. Today there are multiple certification organizations for both dog and cat grooming. Each organization focuses on a slightly different level of knowledge and skill sets. All of them will raise your knowledge and skill set to new levels.
- Becoming certified raises the standards of our profession. Becoming a professional pet groomer is easy. There is no licensing and no mandatory accreditation. However, that does not mean the industry does not maintain quality standards. The certification organizations are raising our professional standards in the areas of knowledge, techniques, skills, and abilities.
- Networking with like-minded professionals. You will meet pet professionals who value education, skill building, and personal growth. I found mentors and business acquaintances I could lean on and bounce ideas around. These were people who would support me and push me to become better. I'm honored to say that some of those folks became friends - and we're still friends over 30 years later! I bet you'll make lifelong friends, too, if you take the journey.
- Employment opportunities. Voluntary certification will improve your chances of moving ahead in your job. Becoming a Certified Master Groomer instantly validates your skill set. Some employers prefer to hire people who are or are in the process of going through the certification process. Others will only hire job candidates who are already certified. Being certified may also be used to determine promotions within a team of stylists.
- Higher price tags for your services. Being certified verifies you possess a higher skill set than most pet grooming professionals. Having a higher skill set translates into being able to charge more for your grooming services.
- Gain respect. Becoming certified instantly gains you respect from your clients, your peers, your staff - and ultimately yourself. Many clients are becoming savvier as to what makes a quality pet stylist. They are seeking them out. Many even drive great distances to get to a certified pet stylist. Being well-educated leaves you with a feeling of fulfillment and accomplishment.
- Confidence builder. One of the greatest benefits of certification testing is the self-confidence it gives you. I love this quote by Arthur Ashe. He said, "One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation." Going through the certification process is the preparation you need to build a thriving career as a professional pet groomer and stylist.
There are currently four well-established organizations offering voluntary certification testing for professional pet groomers. There are new organizations popping up, as well. Do your research on new organization as they become available for testing. Weigh out for yourself whether you should invest your time and energy into their testing programs.
The established organizations who garner respect in the industry are:
- National Dog Groomers Association of America (NDGAA)
- International Professional Groomers Inc. (IPG)
- International Society of Canine Cosmetologists (ISCC)
- National Cat Groomers Institute of America, Inc. (NCGIA)
When it comes to books and learning, I can never get enough. Once you start down the path of certification testing, you may find that it opens doors to continued education. I know it did for me. I've always said one of the most exciting aspects of our industry is that you can never know it all. There is always something new to learn and to improve.
Successfully completing the certification process is just one of the stepping-stones to improving your knowledge base, your skill set, and your career. It's not about having the certificate hanging on the wall (although that's nice), it's more about what it can do for your emotional strength and well-being. The benefits can be immense, outweighing any obstacle getting in your way.