September 2009

Lisa Kind - Editor

Esthetic Endeavors | by Judith Culp


Continuing Education Is Not All Equal

Continuing education should not really be optional if you want to be successful in your career. Most school curriculum are designed to give you the knowledge you need to start your career in an entry level position.

They know you will need to continue learning to enhance your skills and knowledge base. In esthetics this is absolutely critical as most programs haven’t been updated in years and the industry is going through massive changes technologically. Both equipment and products are making changes in the way we do our treatments. If we don’t continue our studies, the customers will likely know more than we do.

Everyone knows how expensive travel, shows and classes can be, so to invest our money the best way, it is important to evaluate the education being offered. Education, shows and product classes are also very expensive for manufacturers to offer. If they are going to do it at their home location, then they have to invest in the overhead it will take to have the space and equipment to do it.

If they are going to take it on the road, then they have travel, the educator’s fees, space rental and the treats the attendees will be looking for. So why do they do it? They do it to sell products. This isn’t a bad thing. It is just the reality. If they teach chemistry, it has to be done with an eye to marketing their products or equipment. Generally, the less the class fee, the more sales-dependent the class will be.

There are a few companies that have an educational division where they offer educational experiences and bring in product as the supplies they need to accomplish any hands-on education. The fees for these classes will be higher as the educational division must pay for itself.

The truth is you do get what you pay for. There are also industry specialists that teach courses through a university system. These are usually short intensive classes and a lot of information is crammed into the time allotted. By being within a school system, they must be product-neutral – no selling or marketing, just education.

Across the country more specialty schools are offering advanced classes to help estheticians improve skills. They may be short term classes or actually lead to an additional diploma upon completion of specific requirements.

We are moving toward a higher standard. It’s the National Coalition of Estheticians, Manufacturers/Distributors & Associations (NCEA) position that all states that regulate esthetician licensees should mandate a minimum of 12 hours of Continuing Education credits (CEUs)–before an esthetician can renew their license.

For the NCEA Certified professional, 12 hours of continuing education must be completed every three years in order to re-certify. This is only four hours per year, pretty simple. These classes must be approved by the NCEA Commission on Accreditation (COA) which was formed to facilitate and supervise the continuing education requirements of the skin care professional for recertification and/or relicensure.

To quote NCEA’s guidelines: “The content contained in the educational activity should be relevant to the skincare professional. It may involve a wide body of knowledge and skills generally recognized. Due to state regulatory board scope of practice regulations, it is recognized that not all educational activities will be permitted in all states. It is further recognized that due to specialty and subspecialties found in the skin care industry, all audiences may not be suitable for the educational activity.”

Just recently the State of Oregon passed a bill that grants Oregon Health Licensing Agency the ability to create Advanced Certificates for fields where the basic training does not cover the emerging technology. This may also include continuing education requirements. While nothing is yet completed it is clearly a time of change and an indication of those moves to a higher standard.

Now is the time for estheticians to expand their knowledge, take approved classes and get prepared so that they will be easily able to transition and meet the requirements that will be enacted.

Becoming NCEA Certified is a great way to do this regardless of what state a technician practices in. That NCEA Certified credential hanging on your wall sets you apart from those with minimal training. A recent graduate called my school excited that she had just passed the exam. “ I’m going shopping to celebrate.”

For those serious about skincare, continuing education, as well as demonstrating their knowledge and gaining the NCEA Certified credential are all part of your career. They are an important component of the package that is the master plan for their future and their continued success.

Judith Culp, a CIDESCO Diplomat has been in the esthetics industry since 1980. A CPCP permanent makeup technician for over 18 years she served a 4-year term as a Director for the Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals, two years as their president. She is president of Culp Enterprises Inc. and CEO of NW Institute of Esthetics. Judy Culp is available for consulting. For more information visit