Grooming fees vary widely according to the groomer's skill, grooming environment and location. Self-employed dog groomers may appear to make higher wages per hour than their retail counterparts, but you must figure in the cost of equipment, overhead and transportation to find out how much you will truly make in this field.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists an annual mean wage of $22,200 per year for non-farm animal caretakers who perform personal services such as grooming. This works out to approximately $10.67 per hour, and grooming a single dog may take anywhere from about 40 minutes to several hours.
Groomers in the District of Columbia, Hawaii and Alaska make the highest wages, averaging between $29,150 and $32,700 per year. Groomers in sports-related occupations, such as grooming show dogs, earn more than general pet groomers. Additional education and training will increase your skill, thus increasing your pay.
The Bureau of Labor includes both self-employed and retail groomers in pay statistics. In general, self-employed groomers should charge similar amounts compared to other local retail groomers. This lets you factor in costs for your grooming tools, rental fees for a grooming salon or expenses for a mobile or in-home grooming area. What you earn is based on the money left after these expenses are paid, which in many cases is similar to what retail groomers make, unless your equipment and location are fully paid off. You must also pay all self-employment taxes, which often works out to double what you pay when working for someone else.
The highest-paid groomers also often encounter the highest stress. If you groom dogs for professional showing, you must work quickly and efficiently with impeccable results. This often requires soothing anxious or agitated owners. Overall, animal care professions are not highly paid careers, but they can offer enjoying, fulfilling work environments with non-monetary rewards.