Cooler weather and falling leaves means back to school. But it's not about hitting the books this time. Continuing education is all about becoming a better skin care professional, with advanced training available for virtually any field you might be interested in. Think hands-on classes, exciting new services and business builders that will have real returns.
Experts agree that continuing education is a must for salon and spa professionals. In this rapidly changing industry—and with ever-savvy clients—professionals who aren't keeping up with the latest techniques and ingredients risk coming up short when clients demand more. Even estheticians focused on providing natural, low-tech treatments or a basic facial must be able to speak authoritatively during consultations about why a new product may or may not be the best choice for that client.
Particularly for novice estheticians, education is critical for well-rounded skills and career advancement. In a 2004 Spa Industry Study conducted by ISPA, respondents cited the lack of quality in the spa labor market as a "huge problem for the industry," specifically the lack of training apparent in some recent graduates. Even estheticians who have been practicing dozens of years may find themselves rejuvenated by classes out of their comfort zone or integrating ancient therapies, such as Reiki or acupressure, which have become popular in treatment rooms.
How often should you get back in the classroom? Paul Premo, vice president of education for Murad, says, "Take any opportunity to sit in a course, class or attend a medical or esthetics convention. Even take an online course if you need to." At the minimum, he says, consider taking a short seminar on a monthly basis, and a more extensive, multi-day course at least once a year. If you work in a doctor's office or are partnered with a dermatologist in your practice, every day should be an opportunity to learn more about how your work can complement each other's.
Nothing beats hands-on learning as the best way to truly understand a technique and learn the confidence to do it for the first time on a real client. Julie Goodsell, owner of Skin Smart in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, says her High Frequency and Galvanic Currents class at the International Dermal Institute was a real eye-opener. "It expanded my knowledge on those currents far more than what I'd get from a textbook or lecture," she says. "When you understand how something works, it is so much easier to apply it to your everyday job."
Premo says hot classes for the future run the gamut from nutrition to biotechnology as the industry takes a closer look at factors that impact skin health. For an esthetician unsure where to begin, experts say sitting in on as many classes as possible during a trade show or event is one
great way to get a sampling of what's out there. When you are ready for a more in-depth learning experience, talk to your manufacturer about subsidized education or rewards programs that let loyal buyers attend classes for a substantial discount.
Remember, the classes listed here are just a starting point. You'll need to contact your manufacturer for a complete class listing, locations and tuition information. Happy learning!
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