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?
Salon owners can take a more active role in encouraging and facilitating continuing education. “Owners can take a portion of retail sales per month and allot it for education,” says Cuccio. “They can also provide incentive programs to drive sales up to pay for classes.”
Larger salons may also want to consider bringing education in-house. Hiring an educator to come out to their salon and work with their techs allows owners to address the issues that pertain to their specific environment. Individual nail techs and small salons may benefit in the same way by pooling their resources in order to affordably address personalized education. If continuing education units must be fulfilled, check with your state board to see how to go about ensuring credit.
Don’t be a passive observer, all education is what you make of it. Have a plan of action before you go into any learning environment and have a goal of three things you want to learn that day. “It is very important to take responsibility for your own learning experience,” says Valenzuela.
On the Bright Side
Despite all of the complaints and frustration that shroud continuing education, there are positive things to be said about it.
“I feel that the manufacturers are recognizing the fact that in order to have repeat sales and loyal customers they are going to have to upgrade and evolve their classes to meet the needs of the working professional,” says Darling. “That is to say that they will need more add-ons and informative classes, perhaps a type of troubleshooting. I believe that tailoring classes to the needs of the technician is the way of the future.”
“I don’t find anyone to be disenchanted,” says Brown. “I do find that everyone — manufacturers, educators, and nail techs — are looking for new and refreshing ideas.” Fanini Randall seconds the sentiment, saying, “The beauty industry just isn’t the same as it was 10 years ago and what we’re all experiencing now are just growing pains.”
Ann Higby of the National Nail Cosmetology Association (NCA) sees educational opportunities expanding. “NCA is optimistic about the state of continuing education in the nail industry. Every day there is something new to learn, and that’s exciting news.” Not everyone has given up on education, points out Bonn. “The top techs will always get education,” she says. “It is the ones who think they know it all that I am concerned about.” Wetzel agrees, saying, “Techs still hunger for knowledge for its own sake, not because they have to.”
SO WHAT DO WE WANT?
We know we want more continuing education, and we know we want different classes than those currently being offered. Below are the suggestions we received in the process of writing this story. Consider them food for thought.
• Non-product specific classes: there are a few available now, but many nail techs feel they are more valuable than the multitude of product-specific classes that are currently available.
• Sanitation and safety classes
• Legislation classes
• Fun classes — add-ons, massage, reflexology, aromatherapy, nail art
• Business, marketing, and retailing classes
• Trend classes
• Motivational classes
• Online classes
• Electric file classes
• Troubleshooting for common natural nail and nail enhancement problems
• Nail health issues
• Chemical and ingredient knowledge classes
NOTHING BUT THE FACTS: Not all states require continuing education to renew nail tech licenses — something that we’ve learned many nail techs are hoping will change. As things stand today, only 9 out of the 49 states that require licensure also require continuing education. Some states with CEU requirements break down the mandatory units into categories. This information is available through your state board.
WHAT COUNTS AS CEU? Those techs in states with continuing education requirements must fulfill a certain number of hours of education in state board-approved classes in order to renew their license. Nail techs are required to submit proof of their participation in the specified courses. Each state varies in its procedure for verifying attendance and determining which classes are appropriate. Educators and their class offerings are approved through the state board. Educators must submit an application to become certified. Once they are certified they must submit lesson plans for their classes. When the state board accepts the lesson plan, then the class can be made available for CEU.