Salons Register as a Washington State Approved Training Agent

By Sarah Boo Brantley

Until 1990 in the State of Washington, the only opportunity to achieve licensure in the fields of cosmetology, esthetics, barbering, and manicuring involved attending a brick and mortar institution which charged excessive tuition costs while also charging clients in a profit fueled effort of double dipping. Finally, 25 years later a real option: Low Cost & High Content.

The first day of beauty school students show up wide eyed and eager. Tragically, almost 8 out of 10 students who attend traditional beauty schools spend less than 5 years in the industry. Most of these individuals don't fall out of love with the arts and crafts of plying the trade. It is far more likely to be because they could not make a business of it. Many start careers in salons part time while continuing to work in other jobs to pay the bills.

In fact, most of these industry newcomers step into their first career experiences with substantial student loan debt on an entry level paycheck. In some cases, an education at a traditional beauty school can cost more than an entry level service provider makes in two years. That's a hard way to get started. The SWANQ Apprentice Program was designed with reversing these statistics in mind.

The Program

SWANQ Apprentice Program (SAP) founders, Jessee Skittrall and Sarah Boo Brantley were inspired to develop an opportunity for future professionals in the State of Washington that addressed these two major factors: Cost & Content.

SAP is the first to offer apprenticeship participation in Washington that is not cost prohibitive. Participation cost is limited only to a monthly pledge made by the training agent of $100 to the non-profit Empowerment Training Trust Alliance (ETTA) which provides training and support. The program can be completed in 12 to 18 months making this exponentially less costly than traditional school programs. Furthermore, there is no debt remaining at the end of the program. Apprenticeship in Washington also requires the apprentice be paid an hourly wage for every On the Job Training Hour clocked at the salon. These hourly wages are paid by the salon to the apprentice as an employee of the organization. Wages begin at minimum wage and increase periodically as the apprentice advances in training to reach a journeyman wage by completion of the training hours.

The Apprentice

Apprenticeship allows for seasoned professionals in working salons and spas to train individuals to execute the skills necessary to perform services. Apprentices learn in real time while working on real clients. The program consists of 2000 - 3000 hours of on-the-job training with a participating salon, including another 144 -216 hours of Related Supplemental Instruction focusing on the theory of cosmetology science, business, customer-service skills and its importance and usage in the workplace.

Related Supplemental Instruction is delivered by DOL Licensed Instructors in an organized academic form designed to provide the apprentice with the knowledge of the theoretical and technical subjects related to the apprentice's occupation. The purpose of the related instruction is to teach apprentices applied academics in subject areas that cannot be effectively taught on the job but that are essential for job performance. Online guided study is available for all apprentices making access to learning seamless. All written tests are proctored via computer creating a familiarity to digital assessment and dispelling fear and creating preparedness for state written test protocols.

The Training Agents

Salons with a current DOL Salon/Shop License and a business license can apply to be certified as a Registered Training Agent. Professionals within these salons holding a license for at least three years in the State of Washington can be designated as Journeymen.

Each participating salon offers its own career pathway for technical, professional, personal and mentor skills. This ensures career growth, wage progression, self-esteem, higher levels of performance and contribution to the salon's success.

In addition to setting the salons up to become Training Agents, SAP has programs designed to assist in Journeyman support and Train-The-Trainer programs customizable to any organizational culture. SAP can make available support in areas of business strategy, marketing, employee coaching, motivation, and skills training with no brand commitment or changes to current product offerings.

The SWANQ Apprentice Program is committed to empowering individuals in Washington State with an opportunity for growth and education ultimately leading to a successful career and partnerships. Anne Frank was once quoted as saying, "How wonderful it is that no one need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." This sentiment holds true for our industry. It is truly wonderful that as professionals we have been placed in a position to make the lives of those in our community more beautiful. Whether that be the clients we see on a daily basis, or the individual that is looking to grow a career.