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How to Become a National Certified Master Groomer – What Aspiring Dog Groomers Need to Know

Paragon Pet School is a partner with the National Dog Grooming Association of America’s Workshop and Certification Program.

Hours and hours of practical work have led to this day. A staggering amount of study material has been reviewed and reviewed again, with detailed written exams – comprised of hundreds of questions on canine anatomy and covering all breed standards – completed. Groomers get their dogs to the table, ready to show their grooming prowess to judges, who are selected from nationally renowned master groomers. The goal? To sufficiently impress the judges with their technique to win the coveted designation of National Certified Master Groomer.

Welcome to the world of NDGAA Certification. Paragon is honored to be a workshop and certification partner of the National Dog Grooming Association of America, which hosts certifying and workshop events throughout the country. The organization was established in 1969 to create a forum of educational exchange and industry standardization.

Do Dog Grooming Schools Offer Certification?

Many people don’t realize that all dog grooming programs are not created equal and that there is no nationally standardized curriculum or school-based certification exam. Well-established grooming schools like Paragon rigorously prepare students to work in a variety of salon settings or to establish a business, and also prepare students to voluntarily seek board certification if desired. Graduating from Paragon, given its track record, will make a student a highly competitive candidate for a successful career in grooming. But the key to growth in dog grooming, like every profession, is the recognition that “Education is Everything,” and that education does not end at graduation. That’s where board certification comes in.

What Are the Advantages of Board Certification Available from NDGAA?

Pursuing the designation of National Certified Master Groomer gives you the opportunity to improve your technique, polish your skills and advance your knowledge base under the tutelage of some of the Nation’s most respected professionals. Certification ultimately gives you more to offer to your clients. The learning process is the whole point of any certification.  The things that you learn from your studies and practice grooms is where the improvement comes from. You will be a better groomer after certifying. Certification also elevates your standing in the field.

What’s Involved in NDGAA Master Groomer Certification?

The NDGAA is especially well-known for its insightful seminars and skill testing that covers professional pet grooming in depth. By undergoing additional training at the NDGAA, you can earn board certification to boost your presence in the field.

Whether you begin your certification path immediately upon graduation, or like many groomers, pursue it later in your career or over a longer period of time, the process involves attending workshops with lectures featuring detailed instructions and hands-on grooming demonstrations by seasoned professionals, followed by a series of practical and written tests on materials supplied by NDGAA and based on breed standards.

How Do I Get Started?

The path toward National Certified Master Groomer certification first requires workshop attendance and study of breed standards. Workshops are comprised of instruction that includes:

  • Orientation on the certification process
  • Breed Demos
  • Stripping, Thinning & Carding
  • Patterns and Placement

The next steps include completion of initial practical and written testing in at least two out of four groups: Non-Sporting, Sporting, Long-Legged Terriers and Short-Legged Terriers. You must achieve an average of 85% to proceed and ultimately qualify for the NCMG designation.

If you’ve successfully completed the practical and written tests for at least two groups, you are then qualified to write your final Masters exam, comprised of 400 questions covering working, toy, herding and hound groups, anatomy, breed standards, and breed identification. Ultimately, the designation is not awarded until you have completed both testing and practical work in all four groups.

Practical Assessment must be performed on one each of the following:

  • Poodle or Bichon Frise
  • Sporting – American or English Cocker Spaniel or Springer Spaniel
  • Long-Legged Terrier
  • Short Legged Terrier

To begin, or to get more in-depth information, visit the NDGAA website to purchase study materials and register for the next available workshop.

Does Paragon’s Curriculum Prepare Me for Certification?

Paragon offers a curriculum for aspiring pet groomers that meets NDGAA standards, designed by our founder and NCMG Melissa Verplank, who has also authored leading educational textbooks on grooming techniques.  In fact, Melissa’s Notes from the Grooming Table is one of the recommended study materials for certification! Our students are well-equipped to pursue board certification once they graduate from our program.

Learn more about our On Campus programs, or learn about our Distance Learning Program to study online, on your own time.


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