Pursue Every Educational Opportunity You Can

By PC Geigle, Cosmetology Practitioner / Instructor - Oregon

Finally, you have made it through those grueling months of cosmetology college and the state has awarded you a practitioner's license.

Motivation, talent and certification are all you need, right?

Not quite -- course completion and certification are only the beginning. Your real education starts the minute you pass your boards.

In order to compete in today's world, continuing your education is essential regardless of your career choice. All successful salons require advanced training and experience beyond what you receive in college.

Our learning institutions have remained unchanged in the last four decades. We teach students to perform the services required for their chosen field and we test them on this knowledge. If they pass the required criteria, we send them to the Licensing Board for their final exams.

Some institutions offer advanced services; extensions, advanced coloring techniques, etc., but colleges are only required to provide basic training and understanding of the fields of practice, sanitations, chemistry, anatomy and law.

Further knowledge is entirely the responsibility of the graduate. I have listened patiently to many students who cannot understand why they are not learning advanced services while in cosmetology college. They complain that they have been deceived and cheated of their educational dollars. Cosmetology institutions are required to teach you the basics. The rest is up to you.

My first job opened my eyes. It was nothing like beauty school. I was fortunate to have an experienced mentor re-train me. I was astonished to learn how very little I actually knew. At last, I understood the reasons why I had chosen this career. I began attending all the shows and classes I could. Then I began to learn new techniques and with every class, I learned new trends and styles. I began to appreciate the talent and genius of the platform artists.

It was a privilege to learn their techniques and usage of new products in order to create and transform a typical head of hair into something seen only in the movies and in TV ads. There was the "Wedge," the "Farrah," the "Rachel," amazing color innovations and classes of every kind. We learned to use new and innovative tools and products.

In the salon, we would try our new products, tools and techniques out on each other. The first time we attempted highlights, some of us ended up with calico stripes. Our first attempts at acrylics resulted in one inch thick nails that took hours to file. We attended every class and show we could and, by continuing our education, we attracted more clients because we offered current trends and products. More clients translated into paychecks that were more attractive. We helped transform the no-makeup, home-permed housewives of the 20th century into the chic, self confident and stylish women you see everywhere today. Our profession is largely responsible for these transformations and we did it by continuing our education. As artists, we are professionals who are constantly evolving and re-inventing ourselves.

There will always be the small, homegrown salons that exist in America. These practitioners are happy in their tried and true comfort zones and that is fine. However, the continuing education choices are abundant for newly licensed practitioners. The educational choices you make and the applications you choose to employ will never be without merit. You have chosen a profession where the possibilities for success are endless. It is entirely up to you to decide how far you are going to advance.

Asked what advice I might give to newly licensed practitioners, I would say pursue every possible educational opportunity you can. Something you think might be a waste of time and money may turn out to be the very thing that opens the door to new opportunities, leading you to the success you have always known would be yours. You are never too old or too accomplished to learn something new.

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