Education- So Many Options, So Much Time

Groomers, and the Grooming Industry at large, are experiencing a renaissance when it comes to their viewpoints on education, certificates, certification, and all things related to gaining new knowledge and skills. Groomers are largely unlicensed and unregulated. Take a moment and let that sink in. An entire workforce who is the primary service provider for a valued family member has no official oversight or agreed upon standards of care.

As the pet-owning public becomes more aware of this unregulated status, groomers have found great marketing opportunity in crafting professionalism and highlighting their achievements. For a number of years, as an industry educator, I have coached successful groomers and grooming business owners to invest in their education and knowledge- and that advice has proven to increase business as well as solidify the professional status of a groomer in their community.

The unintended (and happy) consequence of this is that the pets we love and serve are safer than ever. With knowledge comes better handling, more awareness to safety, and an increase in commitment to our clients. These are both the intended result as well as the occasional by-product of investing in your professional education.  Let’s take a look at the many education opportunities, their results, and how/where to find them to maximize your investment into your grooming career.

If we look at all of the emerging options for education and opportunity to share professional best practices- there is a literal buffet before us. Much like a seasoned buffet patron, it’s important to select the correct opportunity to suit your appetite for knowledge so that you are well-fed professionally.  Let’s explore that buffet and look at the choices before you, how to maximize your selections, and where to begin when sorting through the feast.

Certificate Course: As groomers have become more informed, the rise of “Certificate Courses” has exploded with many options to choose from. A certificate course indicates that the groomer has attended the course. These courses and certificates come in many different shapes, sizes, and subjects. The bearer of the certificate can proudly display to their customers that they are acquiring knowledge in a range of subjects. Be Aware: Earning a participation certificate can sometimes be misconstrued as being “certified” in a subject. Be proud: Certificates of completion indicate a groomer’s dedication to their craft and are a great way to visually document their professional journey of knowledge gathering. Where to find: Certificate Courses are the easiest option for groomers to acquire- they are readily available from many online sources. The option of attending live trade shows to earn these certificates is still considered the highest, most valuable presentation of the material. Having the ability to focus, dialog freely, and engage with other pet professionals face to face offers a dynamic way to make sure you keep the most relevant learning points from any course.

Certification: When there are many options- often labeled with similar sounding names, it can be easy to become confused about your education choices.  Where a Certificate Course indicates that a learner has participated in a session, an actual Certification is a culmination of learning which ends with a test to evaluate the knowledge. A Certification allows for measurement of the knowledge and typically indicates a higher level of study and commitment. Be Aware: Certification can be costly and these programs are typically offered by organizations or companies as their primary business. The degree of knowledge tested can vary from one organization to the next as well as the process to gain the Certification- so choose your path wisely. Be Proud: The journey of earning a Certification indicates commitment to mastering an education pathway. Achieving Certification shows your personal commitment to your career and the satisfaction of mastering higher levels of study. It shows perseverance, stamina, and commitment- which are all marks of a dedicated stylist. Where to get started: The Certification path at our knowledge buffet is not the fastest route to achievement, however offers some of the most satisfying results. Choose your Certification provider carefully, become informed about their testing standards and pathways, and sail on to success.

Credentialing: The most difficult designation to create in any professional field, is a true Credentialing Program.  A Credential is awarded following an advanced level examination which follows rigorous exam development protocols, is psychometrically validated, and is delivered through a third-party testing service. Due to the science and development involved, Credentialing programs are exams which measure the competency level and knowledge of the professional involved in the trade- yet offer the truest, widest acceptance on a professional level. They are also the most recognizable mark of a professional for a consumer. Much like the Bar Exam for Lawyers, consumers trust that the professional’s knowledge and competency at practicing that knowledge is being measured, weighed, tested, and offers a complete scope. This is the same for Credentialing for Groomers. Achieving the Professional Grooming Credential (presented by WPA) is the pinnacle of success for all Pet Stylists. Being recognized outside of the pet industry as a valid professional trade will validate the hard work of the entire industry. Be Aware: The WPA Groomer Credential Program is the culmination of professional study and knowledge- much like the ACT, you may not know what is contained on the exam, but know which subjects you should be studying to prepare.  Be Proud: Earning the Pet Grooming Industry’s first and only Professional Credential will designate to your clients as well as peers that you are safe, knowledgeable, and recognized for achievement in your profession. Where to find: The World Pet Association- with collaboration from Barkleigh, leading certification groups, leading grooming educators, veterinarians, and other industry pet professionals, will be offering exam applications in Early 2021 with first exams being conducted nationally at testing centers.

There are many different ways to make your mark as a professional- and gaining knowledge in your craft is the truest form of achievement. No matter the choices you make to enhance your skills- congratulations for participating in the feast that is available. As you navigate the choices before you, learning to maximize your investment into your career, gaining the right knowledge in the right areas at the right time is critical. From virtual offerings to returning to live trade shows- there are many options before you. Choosing what suits you, and your clients, best is guaranteed to offer benefits at every level.

Like all good buffet’s there are no set rules- if it’s your style, then feel free to eat dessert first!

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