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Job: Pet groomer

Role: Pet groomers need to possess a wide range of skills to ensure that their furry clients, as well as their owners, are satisfied.

"A basic groom includes a bath and usually a coat conditioner, [plus] an assessment of what the skin condition is like, so the selection of shampoo matches the animal's body. The nails are cut, the ears are cleaned, sometimes they'll brush the teeth, depending on the salon, a comb out is completed and then the trimming work of the animal is done," explained Lesley Weeks, Toronto-based vice-president of the National Groomer Association of Canada and founder of Pampered Paws grooming salon.

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Groomers not only need to be experts in providing these services, but also in explaining the process to owners, to ensure they arrive at the desired result for their pet.

Salary: The salary of a pet groomer is typically based on the fees charged by the spa itself, as many pet groomers are paid on commission, which varies between 40 and 60 per cent of the total cost of the groom. Ms. Weeks said that it usually averages out to about $40,000 a year, but it varies based on the popularity, pricing and location of the company.

Education: There is no mandatory degree or licence required to begin a career as a pet groomer in Canada ; however many top stylists choose to take voluntary courses through the National Groomer Association of Canada.

"The individual writes an exam and does three practicals, and gains the right to earn the title 'licensed groomer of achievement,'" Ms. Weeks said. "There is no mandatory licensing in Canada, but we would like to see it, and the National Groomer Association of Canada is trying to get the government to realize that licensing should be required."

Job prospects: Regular grooming of their pets is steadily increasing in popularity among pet owners, Ms. Weeks said, but there aren't enough qualified groomers to meet the demand.

"The turnover is rampant, as the individual discovers in their first year just how difficult the job actually is." As a result, there are a lot of opportunities available for those who have what it takes.

Challenges: Pet grooming is a highly demanding job that requires a wide variety of skills. "People don't realize how physical it is, that their body is placed in all different contortions," Ms. Weeks said. "They need lifting capabilities because each dog has to be lifted four times throughout the grooming process."

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Furthermore, groomers must often mediate between the desired outcome of the owners and the comfort of the animal. "Most clients are totally unaware of the number of knots and tangles that are in a dog's coat," Ms. Weeks said. "The animal suffers because of the desire to create a beautiful look for the client, so the communication between groomer and client becomes so necessary to making sure the animal is comfortable."

Why they do it: At the core of any pet groomer's desire to enter the industry is, of course, a love for animals, but Ms. Weeks said there are more benefits than that. "It is an amazing job, and it's a talent that they can take anywhere in the world," she said. "Once you know how to groom animals, you can do it anywhere."

Misconceptions: Many people believe the job is an easy one, but in fact it is a highly demanding job, in terms of talent, skill, breed-specific knowledge and physical strength.

Give us the scoop: Are you a pet groomer? Write a note in the comments area of this story or e-mail your comment to careerquestion@globeandmail.com and let us know what you would tell others who are interested in the profession.

Want to read more stories from our Salaries Series? Find more here.

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