When you don’t know what it is that you don’t know; how do you know which questions to ask when choosing education? This is a HUGE challenge for aspiring nail techs. Most of Canada (aside from two provinces) has no standards. That also means that ‘schools’ aren’t legislated either, and frequently teachers aren’t even qualified. In most of Canada, it’s perfectly legit to take a one day course and go to work in a salon. That’s it. Just one day. Which is VERY interesting since depending on which province you reside in, laws allow a class to be anywhere from 30 to 39.5hrs long. Yes, while our industry is unregulated, how much we are allowed to teach IS regulated. That aside, why aren’t educators/schools taking advantage and teaching the maximum allowable as per their province?
In the US, things are a tad better in my humble opinion. Although, not perfect. Regulations vary state to state from 200 to 600hrs and more for a combination of theory and practical before they can get their license. Theoretical content in these courses seems to average across the US at approximately 100hrs Keeping in mind that not all schools are equal and curriculum’s vary. In Canada, the average time spent on theory for such things as: universal precautions, anatomy of the nail/hands/feet, sanitation, disinfection, diseases, prep and mani/pedi basics is ONLY THIRTY MINUTES. Considering that Milady’s Standard of Nail Technology Textbook is ‘THE’ Bible for nail techs and 560 pages long, that leaves out a great deal of education. Herein lies the problem, the Companies offering product specific training are offering the same 1 day course curriculum to Canadian Students as to American Students, without considering our lack of legislation or the fact that the majority of the students haven’t had benefit of a foundation course with any theory.
I was lucky and started off in this industry over 20yrs ago by earning my DEP in Hairdressing & Cosmetology on a 2yr course at a time when there were standards. I spent hours upon hours of theory. When I became serious about nails and no longer treated it as a hobby, I signed up for a couple more product-specific classes to update and expand my knowledge. Depending which class, they were 1 to 3 days in duration but it was all practical. I was lucky once again because I found a wonderful nail tech forum. It’s full of educated Nail Techs that were ready to kick my butt into shape and point me to the right resources. Most aren’t that lucky.
Several years, several courses, several books and DVDs later and I’m pursuing an advanced level of Certification. So I show up for class at a Quebec-Distributors’ expecting to be challenged and tested. Expecting to be surrounded by techs with as much, if not more, experience than myself. After all, this is a certification intended for experienced techs with advanced skills that I’m going for. There were a couple. BUT RINGA-DING-DING it’s my wake-up call. The class is MOSTLY newbies that have never so much as done a natural mani or applied a nail tip or learned how to hold a nail file. The Distributor didn’t restrict the class to those with previous education and experience. It was open to everyone. Those same newbies walked out with the same diploma as myself at the end of the day. No written exam. No practical test. The certificate was handed out for ATTENDANCE. Do I need to explain that they could not master the techniques taught? The word deflated doesn’t begin to describe how I felt about my ‘accomplishment’.
Fast forward another couple of years and I have relocated to Ontario. News is flying all over the web about a online education offered by the same Brand. I am NOT comfortable with this at all, I stoutly believe it will further cripple the industry and it’s standards in Canada. Online Education has already been tried and proven to fail (at least as far as Foundation courses go, I am not referring to nail art). You see it time and again on the forums – techs that take online courses and end up spending more money for one-to-one classes because they can’t cut it. Yes, there are the rare few that manage ok. Perhaps this method works in the US where there are standards that require BY LAW that techs start with foundation courses. BUT this is NOT the direction suitable for the Canadian market.
To add further insult to injury, I have recently been contacted by a couple of former clients of Quebec. They are complaining about a technician that had attended the same classes as myself, that held the same Certifications HOWEVER the nails she produced weren’t of the same caliber. Those are the clients’ words, not my own. The clients expected me to explain why that technician wasn’t as skilled as myself if she held the SAME Certification. HOW could I explain? I then proceeded to reconsider my intended goals of teaching for this Company. While they offer great products and courses; the lack of regulation in Canada and by the distributors makes these courses inappropriate.
My decision is now final. I am definitely not pursuing my original goal. Time to redirect.
My passion is still true. I want to have an impact on this industry. I want to give back what was given to me by that wonderful nail forum in the UK. I want to make a difference. I STILL want to teach. But who to teach for? I have been approached by a few companies in recent years, but none that ‘fit’. Either they didn’t offer all the products I need, or I didn’t believe in their product, or I didn’t believe in their quality of education OR a combination of all of the above . One school/distributor in Quebec made me an offer that was quite shocking. When I asked why there was so little theory and why classes were so short, their answer to me was “a good tech doesn’t need to know how to read”. Obviously I told them NO.
I started doing my research. It didn’t take me long and I didn’t have to go far. I had considered this company in the past, but they didn’t carry everything I needed. BUT NOW THEY DO! The more products I try, the more I fall in love with them. They’ve grown and they’re growing more every day. They are Elite Beauty Supplies, located right here in Canada. Knowing them as I do, I know for a FACT that they believe in standards. Most importantly, they believe in ongoing education and they believe in TESTING their students to make absolutely sure that they are truly prepared to pursue the art of nail enhancement technology. Their Foundation courses are 6 days long. Certification is not a guarantee- the student must prove competence in theory and practical and they will have to take exams. THIS is how I will make a difference! I am now an Independent and Private educator of Elite Beauty Supplies products.
I know some of my peers may be surprised and fully expected me to go a different direction- my original direction. But those of my peers that truly know me and understand me will applaud my choice. They understand my need to fight for standards in Canada, my need to offer quality education, my need to make a difference. EBS is not about satisfying stock holders, but about quality products and quality education. Added to that, EBS steadfastly believes in supporting the entrepreneurship of their nail techs and educators, and in quality products. These beliefs mirror my own.
So class is now in session and the student is now becoming the Teacher. I will be offering beginners classes for those interested in the art of technology for a total of 39.5hrs to maximize on the opportunity presented to me and teach as much as possible. There will also be other courses available in addition to beginners’ classes. Please keep your eyes open for further details.
I hope I make my mentors proud.
Course details will be uploaded to website and this blog soon.