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New Career at 50??? grooming???

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  • New Career at 50??? grooming???

    My name is Nancy and I'm new on the board. I found a grooming school that offers approximately over 500 hours of "hands-on" teaching in their curriculum. Everyone that graduates their program will have "groomed" over 100 dogs before graduation. I have had my own petsitting company for 4 years and would very much like to provide my clients with "grooming" services as well. I guess, my question is can anyone tell me what I really am going to be prepared to do after only approximately 4 months of attending grooming school?? Is it practical to think of starting my own business? My other concern is that $4,200 for tuition (not including tools!) is expensive! I was also looking into DVD videos to learn proper bathing, nail trimming, ear cleaning, brush outs, etc. The school is about an hour's drive away and is going to be hard to fit into my schedule. I was hoping I could do a home-study course but that doesn't seem practical because they lack "hands-on training". Any suggestions/comments would be much appreciated.

  • #2
    Sure! You can do it!!

    There are several of us here who started grooming as a career change at 40 something.

    (I do pet sitting too)
    I started out as a bather after working as a vet tech for a couple of years.
    Grooming is VERY physical work. And you don't need to spend all that tuition money only to find out handling dogs and their people all day is really not your thing.

    I survived, bought tapes to give me basic knowledge, then almost finished a 12 week apprenticeship under a local groomer who saw 40 dogs on most days. LOTS of practice!!

    And I would not be where I am without the wonderful supportive folks here on this board.



    • #3
      Well, in my opinion, you definately would benefit from hands on training. I know there are people who have become groomers on self taught programs, but this must be a much more difficult route to go...especially if you will be working alone and not benefit later from working in a shop where others can guide you. You may lose all your customers before you really make them unless they are just really patient and understanding. I took a 12 week full time program and started my own business at the age of 40. It can be done, there are others on this board who have done the same and been successful. There are some who will say that it is not a good way to start out, and their opinions have merit. But it is possible....altough sometimes I wonder why any of my original clients rebooked with me! it is nerve wracking, stressful and you will feel like a hack often times....and this is with schooling. I can't imagine even having the confidence to pull it off alone after self taught. The amount of tuition you quote is practical.

      Another thing for you to be thinking of and planning for is the types of equipment you will need and how you will provide service. I can tell you, at 42 I am feeling the effect of physical demands on my body and I am not overweight and out of shape or anything like that....I am a relatively fit woman, but it is hard! You need the tools to do your job with the most ease on your body in the most efficient manner. You do not want to be lifting dogs that weigh more than 40 or so lbs up off the floor and onto a table regularly, so think about the clients you will serve. Likewise, it is murder on your back to work on the ground (maybe not for young people, but we aren't kids anymore). Don't underestimate the physical demands of this job. House call grooming can make it even more demanding because you are stooping in peoples tubs vs working waist high with grooming equipment found in shops. Then you have the clean up inside the homes etc etc. Just something to think more detailed know your customers so you can envision what you would need to do to bring in what you need to service their dogs. Try to think in detail, not generality. Then, think about how and if the services you could provide would "justify" the expense and sacrifice of your schooling and all the equipment you will purchase, and the work you will put into the grooming. Can you charge enough to make up for the time it will take you for grooming and clean up, for your time and energy. Not just monetarily worth it, but totally worth it. Would your clients want this, and how often? Just when you are pet sitting, or would you want to actually be an in home groomer on regular schedules other than just when the folks are out of town?

      Going to full time grooming school is a big sacrifice, time, money, committment, energy. Just be sure to think of all the things in detail before you jump into anything too quickly. I love grooming, and I am glad that I made the change. I wish I would have not done large dogs right from the start. I am glad I went to school, I would not have been successful home taught. It is hard enough to groom a dog right when you have been shown hands on on a real dog. If you do decide to do this, I encourage you to at least get some practical training or supervision, or at least experience on real dogs.


      • #4
        for sure

        I went to school at forty eight and I was nowhere near the oldest one there.

        I also worked every hour I was not in school, at another shop.
        Then I worked at the school, assiting, bathing, and grooming
        through Christmas.

        I made all my tuition back plus, in four months.
        Working full time, I could have made it back in half that time.

        What other schooling cost so little?

        Sounds like you already would have good contacts for this, so
        you just need to decide if its what you really want to do.

        For sure try some time in a shop if you can, to help you decide.


        • #5
          500 hours is great

          At the age of 53, I took a 300 hour course and I now work by myself. I wish I had been able to do 500 hours, but I am doing fine now. I think the tuition you are looking at sounds very reasonable.

          I feel that as long as I don't do too many big hairys, that grooming is keeping me young. I lift weights and walk for 30 minutes every morning so that I can keep up my strength for a busy day of grooming.

          I also try to go to a groom expo every year, as I am able to learn a few tricks that help me to be a better groomer and that make my job a little easier.

          Good luck to you.


          • #6
            LOL!! i am 21 yrs old...i have a bad knee (the bones rub together hehe how fun is that! plus it locks up sometimes and feels like its gonna give out..) i screwed up my right wrist(by drying 20 dogs straight through for daycare clients) (this is the one i use the most), my back will hurt me seem to get sometimes an arthritis like pain in my shoulder...LOL! did i mention im only 21? knee started when i was in...8th grade? went to doctor...nothings wrong. yeah okay...whatever. i just basically live with the pain when it starts acting up..if my knee starts hurting i sit down for a few mins. if wrist starts hurting on goes the wrist brace. same if my back hurts (yes i am going to groom SITTING in a stool! that will be a lovely thing once i actually start grooming!) so all i can say is..know your body,know your limitations, and dont push yourself too far...otherwise you could end up out of commission for awhile by ignoring your bodys signs when it says ENOUGH is ENOUGH! plus the grooming tuition sounds reasonable..i know the one by me that i know of (that i can get on the site) they have two diffrent is only 4 k something...the other i believe is 8 k something and thats the profess. pet groomer the other is a groomer. assis.? thing i think?
            good luck and have fun!


            • #7
              I would suggest trying to get a job as a bather or kennel helper in a shop so you can decide if this is really the carreer for you. I say this because when I was in school there was a huge drop out rate and it was largely from those that had no previous hands on experience.

              That being said, I think you can learn how to groom in a 500 hour course, but don't stop your education there. There are seminars and books and other sources like this board where you can learn much more!

              Before you open your own business I think it is very important to work in other established places first for a year or so (at least). You learn so many vital things in a shop that they don't teach in school. Plus, you have the benefit of learning from other experienced groomers and getting some experience under your belt before you do it on your own. Good luck to you, let us know how things are going!
              SheilaB from SC


              • #8
                I'm right there with you at 40 something

                Just finished school three years ago and did two and a half years at other shops and am now going to business school to prepare for opening my own shop.

                Go for it. I paid about the same for the same amount of instruction hours at school and although felt I could've learned more it got me the break I needed to get more training.

                The problem with learning from videos in my opinion is you wont have the hands on experience of dog handling that is so important and you can do in school. I went to school with at least three other people who had already worked with dogs in a training or pet sitting capacity and couldn't believe how difficult grooming was compared to other animal services and were shocked cause they thought they'd have an easier time right off the bat.

                Like everthing else doing is the best way to learn for yourself. You'll be glad you did.

                Lori from CT


                • #9
                  definitely go for it

                  I went to a 900 hour prgram and I feel that it was extremely beneficial and prepared me for just about anything. Also Im 22 and was one of the youngest people in the class. This is definitely something I think you could benefit from especially because you say you already do the pet sitting so you basicallly already have clientel. Just become friends or have an a local groomer you can call if you ever have problems after the school, which I dont think you will, but I say definitely go for it.


                  • #10
                    Hi Nancyes42 -

                    I am 46 and am making the change right now. I am working in my current airline job and putting my self thru Nash. I made the decision to go with a top name school because I felt at my age I needed what ever help to jump start this as fast as possible. I didn't feel like I had time to work as a bather for however long and then start to train with someone in a shop somewhere. I worked as a kennel manager for 2 years and this is my dream to open a kennel/grooming shop. I waited too long for many life reasons. Although I feel like I'm getting a later start than I wanted I am charging full speed ahead and I think you should too. The school will give you confidence in your beginning skills. If you start off working on the dogs you already watch, after school, that will probably give you the answer if you need to work somewhere for a while to hone your skills or not.
                    What ever you do if this is what you want it doesn't matter what age you are. Work smarter not harder - smaller dogs at first, etc. Time will tell you what you can handle. Doing this shouldn't be your question, if you want to than DO IT!! The only question should be how far do you want to take the pet sitting / grooming thing.
                    Good Luck!!!


                    • #11
                      you go for it girl!

                      Hi Nancy, I went to school when I was 39, and at that time was the oldest person in the class. I am now 57. I paid 7k for a 640 hr. course. Sure, like in any field, there is always a lot more to learn after schooling, I learn new things every day. I am so glad I did go to school what I learned is invaluable, and will be with me always. I can not imagine doing any other type of work. I love what I do and will probably groom til I'm 80. (scary thought) I know many groomers who were taught in a shop by the owners or other groomers and are just as good, or better at grooming as the school taught groomers. There are many good suggestions here. You already have some knowledge in handling since you have a pet-sitting service altho grooming handling you will discover is much more extensive. Only you can decide which way to go. If you get shop training make sure the groomers have good reputations and are good to and with the dogs, because what you learn from them will carry on to your grooming. Good Luck!


                      • #12
                        50 is nothing, Nancy! My mother started her 500 hour course on her 60th birthday. And there were lots of other folks there that age.

                        I think everyone agrees that a hands-on course will give you the best education, but others have definitely made successful careers from home-based programs too. If you do the latter, I think it is especially important that you work for/with a very experienced groomer for at least a year to fine tune your skills. It's also really vital to see how a grooming business runs. Good luck!


                        • #13
                          New Career at 50??...Thank you so much for your help!

                          Wow, everyone is so great!!! Everyone gave such great advice!!! Sometimes, I get stuck "overthinking" my decision to learn grooming. It was suggested that I may want to work in a "salon" before venturing out on my own....What is the best strategy to get a job in a local salon after I finish grooming school??? Thanks again, for your great advice and "motivation"!!!!!


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Nancyes42 View Post
                            Wow, everyone is so great!!! Everyone gave such great advice!!! Sometimes, I get stuck "overthinking" my decision to learn grooming. It was suggested that I may want to work in a "salon" before venturing out on my own....What is the best strategy to get a job in a local salon after I finish grooming school??? Thanks again, for your great advice and "motivation"!!!!!
                            Most grooming schools have job boards with salons looking for help. Or the school should be able to assist you. There seems to be a shortage of good qualified grooming help everywhere, so I doubt you will have a problem with finding work!


                            • #15
                              I'm 52 and I finished the 600 hour at Nash-NJ last May. There were several of us there at that time who were in the same age range. A couple of the girls went mobile right out of school and are doing really well. I had worked as a bather/fluffer for a few months before I started and have always done my own dogs. When I got out of school I worked at a couple of shops and now I work on my own doing Housecall. I recently had an offer from a show groomer to come work with her a couple days a week, which I am getting ready to do now. I think the possibilities are endless in this profession at any age. I would not let my "age" hold me back from anything I may want to do. Yes, grooming is physically very demanding at times, but if you take care of yourself and truly love what your doing , you should do well. Good Luck!