Business Management

As I See It: Would You Go 7,000 miles for Your License?

How come the license that has become a symbol for professionalism halfway across the globe doesn’t hold the same cachet in this country?

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal elaborated for the general public something that the professional nail industry has known for some time: Many nail technicians from Japan travel to the United States to do their manicuring training and earn their license to do nails, despite the fact that Japan does not even require a license to do nails. Isn’t it interesting that the American nail license holds such credibility and prestige that Japanese nailists would travel 7,000 miles, often spending thousands of dollars, simply for the privilege of holding a U.S. nail license?

You may be saying that the Japanese are well-known devotees of all things American and the American nail license is simply another status symbol. Well, that may be partly true, but it’s not exactly a Louis Vuitton bag we’re talking about: It’s professional designation that takes (in most cases) 400-600 hours to achieve and usually consumes a good portion of their own savings. My question is this: How come the license that has become a symbol for professionalism halfway across the globe doesn’t hold the same cachet in this country?

Just what value does a license to do nails have? Is it a key to great opportunity and business success, as it has been for many of the Japanese who take it back to their own country? Is it a ticket to freedom and the American Dream that it became for many Vietnamese immigrants who earned theirs in the ’70s and ’80s?

Why is it a badge of dishonor in the minds of high school career counselors who reluctantly promote the cosmetology arts as a worthy career? Why do so many of our own cast their eyes downward when asked what they do and say. “I just do nails”? Why is the collective self-esteem of American nail technicians so low when so many others have given dearly simply for the chance to earn that little piece of government-issued parchment?

A nail license, whether you get it in Colorado or California and whether you take it to Tokyo or Timbuktu, can open doors. It can be the key to owing your own business or simply to finally having a flexible schedule that allows you more time with your kids. It could be the thing that finally gives you personal self-esteem.

Literally, your license simply tells the world you’ve taken the classes, put in some hours, and passed an exam. But for those of you willing to look beyond just that, your license is whatever you make of it.

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