Continuing education is key to the future growth of the industry. So why is it not getting the attention it deserves? Have nail techs and manufacturers become disenchanted with continuing education and relegated it to the back burner?
The quality of the education available for aspiring nail techs is constantly under fire.
Everywhere you turn, nail students and recent graduates bemoan the lack of good teachers, good facilities, and good information.
Today, much of the pertinent day-to-day information that techs learn is gathered after graduation on the job. But while there is a great deal to be learned in the salon, life experience does not eliminate the need for formal continuing education.
“We’re working on people’s bodies in a nail salon,” says Dana Caruso, owner of the Long Island Nail and Skin Care Institute in Levittown, N.Y. “We need to know exactly what we’re doing and how to do it safely.”
Continuing education provides an opportunity for techs to learn about products, techniques, trends, and business tactics that are not taught in school or picked up in the salon. “Continuing education sets the ‘salon professional’ apart from the ‘technician who just does nails’,” says Joey Brown, director of education and international spokesperson for OPI.
Learning new skills and applying them in the salon keeps techs feeling motivated, increases their earning potential, and spurs the industry, so why is no one making a big to-do about the lack of strong continuing education? Have nail techs simply given up on continuing education?
To Each Their Own
The beauty industry is constantly changing. Hairstyles are invented and reinvented, makeup trends ricochet from natural to dramatic and every incarnation in between, and the skin care industry seems to be perpetually atwitter about one miracle treatment or another. How do these industries maintain their momentum and spread their latest and greatest ideas like wildfire? Through continuing education in various guises. Go to any hair trade show and you will see countless stages and booths surrounded by crowds of hairstylists.
Classes are packed and it is obvious that throngs of hairstylists attend trade shows not only to see the latest products, but also to learn skills and observe trends that will help them in the salon. Professional hair care companies are very obviously spending money and making a grand effort to attract hairstylists to their booths and classes — and they are going to extremes to keep them interested and excited.
There are stage shows, live shows, fashion shows, loud music, big screens, industry stars, and media darlings all clamoring for a hairstylist’s ear. For their efforts educators, manufacturers, and distributors are rewarded with enthusiasm and an eagerness to learn their latest offering.
On the other hand, an esthetician’s education does not center around the excitement of showmanship and fashion, but rather focuses on gaining solid technical information. For that reason many estheticians receive education through their salons or spas for the purpose of adding a new service to the menu. In the extremely competitive area of spas, estheticians must be efficient and proficient to guarantee the safety of their clients and the quality of their services.
Continuing education, in many ways, has been built into the fabric of the skin care industry. For example, the manufacturers of skin care products often do not ship products to spas and salons until the estheticians have completed courses on the proper use of the product. Manufacturers of big-ticket and high-tech items, such as microdermabrasion systems and laser hair removal systems, generally include training and sometimes certification classes with purchase.
While these two styles of continuing education are a far cry from being perfect (and are often problematic in their own right), they do illustrate that continuing education can be molded to fit the varied needs and expectations of both industries. The key is delivering the appropriate and desired education in an effective manner — this is something that cannot always be said about the nail industry’s continuing education efforts.
What’s In It For Us?
Education is just as important to our industry because we, like the hair and skin care industries, are constantly evolving. “Education is crucial for nail techs to stay abreast of changes in the industry,” says Sue Irwin, an educator and national sales and marketing manager at Poshé. “There is always some- techs more leverage in their salons and helps to advance their careers.