Dog Grooming Qualifications Explained

West Highland Terrier. Dog Grooming. Dog Grooming courses. Dog Grooming training

Dog Grooming student preparing for Level 3 Diploma Qualification

Now Bear with me, because this will be almost as hard as it is to become qualified as a dog groomer. Despite the amount of online courses that are advertised at various levels, at present there are four generally recognised Dog Grooming qualifications in the united Kingdom. I am going to  explain the dog grooming qualifications available.

These are in alphabetical order:

 AIM Qualifications and Assessment Group (AIM)

City and Guilds (C+G)

International Certified Master Groomer (ICMG) (UK)

International Pet Education and Training Network (IPET)

Open College Network West Midlands (OCN)

Who Sets the Standards?

AIM, C&G, IPET and OCN are all Ofqual Regulated at their level 3 Diploma qualification. This means they have to comply to standard, covering course contents, assessment methods and quality, and course length.

Dog grooming as an industry is unregulated. Fortunately there are various trade bodies pushing for regulation and for Groomers to be qualified. It is not only a minefield for members of the public looking to find a qualified groomer, but also for those looking to enter the profession as professional groomers.

So what do each of the above entail?

AIM Qualifications and Assessment Group.

Aim was  borne out of the merger between AIM Qualifications and Assessment Group and Open College Network West Midlands on 1st September 2022, after this blog was initially written.

Like OCN it offers a range of Qualifications upto and including a Level 3 Diploma in Commercial Dog Grooming. It has a Total Qualifying time of 400 hours. It can be started without any previous Dog Grooming qualifications but candidates must be 16 +

It would appear the qualification has now been split into further modules from the original OCN and are as follows:

D/650/7127 Canine First Aid in the Grooming Environment 
R/650/7123 Carry Out Maintenance and Coat Preparation on Dogs 
M/650/7131 Carry Out Styling and Finishing Techniques 
F/650/7128 Customer Consultation on Planning Grooms and Styles 
H/650/7129 Customer Relations and Expectations 
L/650/7130 Handle, Restrain and Move Dogs within the Grooming Environment 
T/650/7124 Promote and Monitor Health and Safety within the Grooming Environment 
Y/650/7125 Promote, Monitor and Maintain the Health and Wellbeing of Dogs 
A/650/7126 Understanding Legislation in the Dog Grooming Industry 


City and Guilds

At present Entry on to the Level 3 Diploma in Dog Grooming requires a candidate to pass their level 2 City and Guilds for Dog Grooming assistants. This is a course requiring 219 hours of learning passing the following modules:

 201 Prepare and groom dogs prior to bathing

 202 Bathing of dogs

 203 Dry dogs and prepare a dog for styling

 204 Carry out trimming of a dog’s coat to prepare for styling

 205 Move and lift dogs

 206 Maintain the cleanliness and biosecurity of the dog grooming environment

 207 Professional conduct

 208 Introduction to anatomical features, breed characteristics and behaviour of dogs

(City and Guilds, 2022)

City and Guilds Level 3 Diploma

Once this has been passed The level 3 Diploma can be studied for this contains the following additional units and requires an eternal assessment and written paper under exam conditions:

301 Health and safety, legislation and code of practice for the dog grooming industry

302 Preparing, styling and finishing a dog

303 Health checking and handling a dog in a dog grooming environment

 304 Customer service and record keeping in a dog grooming environment

This requires a further 426 hrs of Total Qualifying time.

City and Guilds stipulate that trainers must have a good working knowledge of their subject and relevant teaching and  assessing experience along with evidence of continual CPD. Centres must be City and Guilds approved

(City And Guilds, 2022)


The ICMG qualification is split into three “tracks” or steps .


The first is the Certified Professional Groomer or CPG. Here candidates demonstrate their ability to bathe and prepare a dog for grooming as well as performing a kennel trim. There are also written papers covering knowledge in relation to legislation welfare, handling, diseases and first aid. Also included are sections in relation to behaviour, health and safety and bio security.

(ICMG, 2022)


The next step is The Certified Advanced Professional Groomer (CAPG) This builds on the CPG and looks at he skills required for scissoring, clipping and styling taking into account the dogs anatomy and balance. This section mentions predominantly Toy wool coat and Double coated breeds. There are two practical assessments and one written examination. Information on the ICMG website recommends approximately a 1000 GLH

(ICMG, 2022)


The final step is The Master Groomer (ICMG) As well as practical assessments relating to the 7 Kennel club groups, there are 7 multiple choice/ breed identification papers in relation to each group. Candidates are expected to be able to demonstrate a sound knowledge of breed standards to an advanced level.

(ICMG, 2014)


Despite been the newest awarding body, IPET were  previously a training provider and  are industry specific. They only offer qualifications for the Pet Industry. Like OCN provided a learner can demonstrate the ability to study at Level 3 they can start on the Diploma course without having passed a Level 2 qualification. IPET qualification looks at continual assessment. A learner  completes questions in writing covering the following modules:

Canine First Aid training

Dog Grooming Courses at Level 3 also include skills such as first aid

301 Health and Safety in a Dog Grooming Environment

302 Promote the Welfare of Dogs Conforming with Relevant  Legislation

303 Customer Care and Managing Complaints

304 Assess and Plan Dog Grooming styles and Maintenance of Equipment

305 Health Checking Handling and Canine Behaviour

306 Prepare Style and Finish a Range of Dog Breeds

307 Canine Emergency First Aid

308 Planning the operation of a Small Canine Business

(IPET, 2021)

The students also have to complete Diary entries for a minimum of 20 dogs, evidencing their learning and complete 3 practical assessments. The total qualifying Time at this level is 400hrs

IPET approved training centres are inspected twice a year. To maintain standards IPET insist  stipulate that trainers hold a Level 3 Diploma in Dog Grooming and a teaching qualification at level 3 or above.


IPET now also offer the Level 4 Higher professional Diploma which builds on the Level 3. Candidates have to demonstrate knowledge of how to groom to breed standard as well as complete written modules in the following areas:

403 Canine Care and Welfare

404 Professionally style a range of Dogs

405 Canine Behaviour Management

406 Managing a Dog grooming Business

407 Personal Professional Development

408 Roles and Responsibilities in the Workplace

409 Canine Health and First Aid Emergencies

There are 4 practical assessments and one written assessment then to complete the qualification. At present this is the only Ofqual regulated Level 4 Dog Grooming Qualification

In total this is another 380 hours of qualifying time. To progress on to the course students must have qualified at Level 3 Diploma and evidence at least 12 months grooming experience.

(IPET, 2022)

OCN (West Midlands)

The level 3 Diploma offered by OCN can be started as long as the learner can demonstrate prior knowledge and the ability to study at Level 3. A level 2 qualification doesn’t have to be completed with OCN. Unlike the City and Guilds and the ICMG, there are no written examinations. However students have to complete an evidential portfolio. This consist of written answers to questions in relation to each of the following modules:

Assess plan and Record Dog Grooming Work

Canine First Aid

Carry out styling and Finishing of Dogs

Health Checking a Dog by a Dog Groomer

Promote and Maintain the Health and Well Being of Animals

Welcome Receive and Care for customers.

Alongside these students have to complete written diaries for the number of dogs required by the course and include suitable practical assessments.

All trainers should  have a Level 3 Diploma and a teaching certificate at level 3 or 4

(OCN, 2022)

Why Does it matter ?

Hopefully as a dog lover, if you stayed with me this far, you can see why your qualified Dog Groomers may be more expensive than those who aren’t. A great deal of hard work and expense goes into maintaining your dog’s welfare. Courses can cost anywhere upto £8000 . This doesn’t include the costs for continual professional development attending seminars etc.

If you are considering entering the industry, please don’t consider skimping on the training. There are a lot of experienced groomers out there willing to share their knowledge and see you develop the appropriate skills required.

As a trainer I admit my bias towards IPET because of my personal style of learning. As a someone who holds a Post Graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) in teaching I know everyone’s learning style is different. When I am approached to teach I always encourage prospective students to do their homework BEFORE enrolling. Make sure you have the right centre as well as the right qualification.

To find out more about our courses at all levels, or to ask how we can help with your dogs welfare, feel free to contact us 


Lastly thanks to the organisations Like BIGA, The Groomers Spotlight, PIF and BDGA who are trying to maintain and improve the standards within the industry.



AIM , 2024 aim-qualifications-level-3-diploma-in-dog-grooming. Available at :https://www.aim-group.org.uk/qualifications/qualifications/agriculture-environmental-and-animal-care/aim-qualifications-level-3-diploma-in-dog-grooming/

City and Guilds, 2022. https://www.cityandguilds.com/-/media/productdocuments/. [Online]
Available at: https://www.cityandguilds.com/-/media/productdocuments/land_based_services/animal_management/7863/level_2/centre_documents/7863-02_l2_certificate_for_dog_grooming_assistants_qhb.ashx
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City And Guilds, 2022. https://www.cityandguilds.com/-/media/productdocuments/land_based_services/animal_management/7863/level_3/centre_documents/7863-03_l3_diploma_in_dog_grooming_qualification_handbook_v1-6-pdf.ashx. [Online]
Available at: https://www.cityandguilds.com/-/media/productdocuments/land_based_services/animal_management/7863/level_3/centre_documents/7863-03_l3_diploma_in_dog_grooming_qualification_handbook_v1-6-pdf.ashx
[Accessed 26 Mar 2022].

ICMG, 2014. [Online]
Available at: https://icmguk.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Track-3.pdf
[Accessed 26 Mar 2022].

ICMG, 2022. https://icmguk.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Track-1.pdf. [Online]
Available at: https://icmguk.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Track-1.pdf
[Accessed 26 Mar 2022].

ICMG, 2022. https://icmguk.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Track-2.pdf. [Online]
Available at: https://icmguk.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Track-2.pdf
[Accessed 26 Mar 2022].

IPET, 2021. https://www.ipetnetwork.co.uk/ipet-network-canine-and-feline-qualifications/qualifications/. [Online]
Available at: https://www.ipetnetwork.co.uk/ipet-network-canine-and-feline-qualifications/qualifications/
[Accessed 26 Mar 2022].

IPET, 2022. https://www.ipetnetwork.co.uk/ipet-network-canine-and-feline-qualifications/ipetnetwork-level-4-higher-professional-diploma-in-dog-grooming/. [Online]
Available at: https://www.ipetnetwork.co.uk/ipet-network-canine-and-feline-qualifications/ipetnetwork-level-4-higher-professional-diploma-in-dog-grooming/
[Accessed 26 Mar 2022].

OCN, 2022. https://www.opencollnet.org.uk/documents/Guides/DogGroomingGuide.pdf. [Online]
Available at: https://www.opencollnet.org.uk/documents/Guides/DogGroomingGuide.pdf
[Accessed 26 Mar 2022].


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