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Helping Our Associates Learn, Grow, and Shine

It’s clear our associates are second to none. The passion, skill, and experience you bring to your work make us better every day. Our customers trust you with their furry family members, and time after time, you honor that trust. That’s why we’re committed to investing in your professional development to help you thrive and reach your goals. Here’s what we’re doing.

We Provide Best-in-Class Training

We’re proud to provide extensive training across our stores, salons, hotels, and pet training programs. All PetSmart associates that work with pets go through a “Pet Care Certification” program prior to working in a store. In fact, we train more pet specialists than any other retailer, and these associates receive more training than specialists working anywhere else!

Each year, we train thousands of salon associates through our Grooming Academy. We’re proud to offer the most training in our industry, with more than 800 hours of training provided to each person who completes the program. Best of all, groomers in training make a lot of floofy (and soggy) friends in the process — associates must bathe or groom at least 325 dogs while working as bathers or grooming trainees before they can become a PetSmart groomer!

Animal training associates complete 96 hours of instruction and hands-on practice to learn dog behavior and training techniques before earning accreditation. And this year, we’re launching a new area of pet trainer education, focused on strategy and training expertise.

Hotel associates complete 21 hours of training through a safety-certification program, covering pet behavior, pet health, and welfare practices. Hotel associates also study advanced skills and behavioral interactions to identify signs of stress or veterinary care needs.

And the training doesn’t stop at “graduation day.” We offer continuing education focused on advanced skills for groomers, trainers, and hotel associates. We also provide monthly product knowledge training, and we offer both effectiveness and readiness training programs for a variety of positions, including our highly sought-after Talent Acceleration Program. To keep the pack safe, we provide monthly scenarios and training on safety along with annual certifications.

We Help with Tuition

For more than 20 years, we’ve offered a Tuition Assistance Program designed to help you achieve your academic and professional goals. PetSmart reimburses eligible employees up to $3,500 a year towards undergraduate or graduate degrees.

In the past ten years, we have invested more than $3.3 million in tuition assistance, providing support to more than 1,300 associates. In 2021 alone, we invested more than $385,000.

Earlier this year, we updated the policy to reduce the required tenure and average hours for eligibility, which extended eligibility to more associates. We offer tuition assistance for both full-time and part-time associates that have worked an average of eight hours a week or more in the last six months.

In 2021, we also launched two new scholarship programs. We made an initial investment of $1M in a program to support associates and dependents of color, and we launched an additional program to support any associates and dependents below officer level. In 2021, we awarded 13 scholarships to associates or dependents and are in the process of awarding 18 more scholarships in 2022.

We Offer Learning and Development Tools

We also provide access to a wealth of voluntary online education resources. All of our store, hotel, and salon leaders have access to Skillport, which includes state-of-the-art trainings and courses in a wide range of topics, including critical and adaptive thinking, virtual collaboration, cross-cultural competency, and new media literacy.

This year we launched a new voluntary development program called SmartBoost. In this program, we provide a curated collection of courses, videos, and books specific to a particular topic. We were happy to see 450 Store Leaders and more than 60% of our Distribution Center Leadership Teams completed our first SmartBoost focused on effective listening!


Professional development means something different to everybody, but for all of us, it’s a path to a brighter future. That’s why it’s essential to growing our company and community of associates. Whether you’re looking to level up or try something new, we’re here to support you on your journey.

If you have questions about professional development at PetSmart or any ideas you’d like to share, we’d love to hear from you! Please email us to let us know your thoughts.

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