All too often, cosmetology schools in the U.S. aren’t putting their best foot forward when it comes to educating future nail technicians. For nail schools to get all As when it comes to training students for the real salon world, we need more dedicated nail instructors, increased hours, and a commitment to more than just the state board exam.
Color My Nails School of Nail Technology brings in guest speakers, such as this woman who is sharing information on body language and how to build your nail business, and invites both current students and alumni to these continuing education classes.
That’s not to say that schools haven’t seen improvements in the past few decades. They have. Paul Barry, president of Barristar Student Services, a beauty school student resources organization in its 25th year, says, “Schools have gotten much better. They have better instructors and have become more sophisticated. Chains came in and purchased a big chunk of mid-level schools and set them up. Big names, such as Paul Mitchell, Tigi, and Aveda, have stepped up the bar in schools. Schools in general have a much cleaner look. Accreditation has become bigger. Funding has changed dramatically.”
Nail manufacturers have helped schools step up too. Through its School Partner Program, CND elevates nail programs that meet certain criteria (including being accredited, having on-site instructors present for all trainings, and displaying superior instruction and sanitation standards). Jan Zanettini, CND’s national sales manager schools/spas and a licensed nail tech, says, “We have had wonderful feedback from Partner School alumni, who return to schools to participate in advanced education and aspire to become CND education ambassadors, assisting with trade shows and events.” Benefits current students at CND Partner Schools get include mentoring from existing CND education ambassadors, with possible referral and placement into spas and salons. Zanettini says, “Schools should make decisions to partner with vendors that will benefit the growth in admissions, education, clinic service, promos, and retail opportunities.”
Backscratchers Salon Systems Inc. also focuses on helping nail schools and students, a topic close to the heart of company CEO Michael Megna, whose father once owned a beauty school. The manufacturer regularly sends its educators to schools to teach students nail theory and do hands-on demos. During its visits, the manufacturer educators are encouraged to impart real-life tips. “Some of my independent product demonstrators are salon owners. They share information on what has worked in their salon. I encourage my educators to give classes their experiences, to let students know the ups and downs of being an owner,” Megna says. In addition, Backscratchers’ website includes a “student portal,” which includes special promotions, student contests, state board links, and a place for students to publicize their nail pictures.
And schools that make improvements can expect to reap the rewards down the road. At Royal Beauty School, Johnson reports, “Nail program enrollment has gone up tremendously because word has gotten out. When I started, the program had six students, and now at times we have as many 21.” Nail school experts including Johnson help us identify nine ways we can improve nail schools across the board for enrollment increases, more satisfied graduates, and more success in the real world.
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