Wendy Miner’s second career: Dog groomer and owner of Park Hill Pooch salon in Denver.

Her previous career: Color printer in a commercial custom photo lab.

Why the switch: Miner, who’s 47, developed an allergy to the film processing chemicals, and in mulling over “what now?” she thought of something she liked as much as photography: dogs. “I just had cats growing up, but I always seemed to befriend little old ladies who had dogs and needed help with them,” she says. While still working at the lab, Miner began attending grooming school at night and on weekends.

How she got started: It took Miner eight months to get her grooming certificate (going full time, you can do it in three or four months). Armed with her toolkit from school— scissors, clippers, blades, combs and brushes—she searched for a job in a salon, working under an experienced groomer. She ended up with a part-time job in a pet store, working alone. Big mistake. “Schools teach you every single haircut on every single breed—at least 100 of them,” she says. “They throw it at you all at once, and tell you you’re ready to be out there on your own. But you’re not. You really need somebody to mentor you. It took me forever to do a dog.” Starting out, she could only handle two a day, making half of what the store charged. Miner had to live with her parents, and take a part-time position in another photo lab. A year after graduating, she finally found a job in a salon owned by a seasoned groomer who took Miner under her wing.