Many states require that aestheticians complete state approved continuing education. Just as the number of hours of schooling varies from state to state, so do the continuing education requirements. While this may seem like a burden, it is a great way to ensure continuity and that the highest standard of aesthetics practice is being upheld. Requirements for continuing education can easily be found online by visiting the website of the government body that oversees aesthetics in any particular state. For those states that require hours, this is a great jumping-off point before exploring the options described below. Remember, there was a time not so long ago that the aesthetics’ license did not even exist as its own entity. As cumbersome as required education can feel, it helps uphold standards of professionalism and make things safer and easier for the aesthetician and their client.
Treatment-specific certifications can be a great way to enhance your scope of knowledge and even build content for a resume. Many manufacturers offer free certifications after completing training on their products. Courses like this help familiarize you with industry trends, as well as bring your clients up to date on the latest information and technology. They also show employers that you have more to offer than the standard aesthetics’ license. Employers want someone who shows initiative, commitment, and drive. By continuing to educate yourself beyond the minimum requirement, you show prospective employers that you are a top performer in your field and your value goes up in their eyes. In order to receive certain certifications, you may need to pay for a class or complete a short program. Just remember, any fee you have to pay is an investment in yourself and will pay dividends in the end. Certifications may be available in the following areas: lash extensions, oncology aesthetics, microdermabrasion, manual lymphatic drainage, or makeup application.
Tradeshows can provide many unique opportunities for self-development. From discovering new products and treatments to networking with vendors and peers, it often feels like there is too much to do and too little time. However, focusing on the education that comes free with entry makes attending tradeshows exponentially more valuable. There will be plenty of time to walk the show floor in between classes; be sure to take advantage of every time slot to make the most of your trip and return home ready to put your new knowledge to use.
Some professionals do not like the idea of tradeshow classes because vendors are often using them as an opportunity to sell their products or services. While this may be true, just remember, it is not necessarily a bad thing. Vendors want informed, educated partners, just like aestheticians want informed, educated clients. It is similar to performing a skin analysis and then recommending retail product. You may be suggesting that your client buy something from you, but you are doing it because you believe it will benefit the client.
Tradeshow classes also provide the chance to get face to face with specialized experts in the field. Whether they represent a product or service you already use or one that you are considering, use this as an opportunity to get any questions you might have answered. In a tight-knit industry like ours, it is sometimes even possible to get face to face with the owners of the companies. If it were not for people like you, the vendors would not even be there, so jump in and introduce yourself!
Employer Provided Education
Many employers will help facilitate education in order to support their staff in providing exceptional knowledge and experience to their clients, especially in states that require continuing education hours. Kenneth’s Hair Salon and Day Spa consistently provides free, high-caliber education courses to their staff as a part of their commitment to developing the best talent possible. Kenneth’s aesthetician and educator, Amy McLain, facilitates many of the programs. “We are such believers in education because when we create professional, well-educated aestheticians it is a win-win for everyone. Knowledgeable aestheticians are able to correctly address the client’s wants and needs with services in the treatment room, as well as home care (retail). We have proven that clients who purchase retail have a much higher retention rate which benefits both aesthetician and salon.”
If your employer does not currently offer education, discuss with your management the possibility of providing time and/or financial assistance in order for you to attend educational courses. Discuss with them the benefits, like an increase in sales of a certain product or the ability to list a new facial or procedure on the menu, that they can expect to see as a result of funding the education you are requesting. Just remember, in the end it is not the responsibility of your employer to make sure you continue to develop your skills and knowledge. That responsibility can only be taken on by the individual.
Many manufacturers and vendors offer regular webinars on topics relating to everything from product knowledge and in-depth science to retailing and client retention. These are often free to attend and may even be recorded so that it is possible to watch them at your convenience. Vendors understand the busy nature of working in a spa and want to make it as easy as possible for their accounts to access educational material and become experts on their product so that they can pass on that knowledge to their clients. HydroPeptide President Steve Peck has seen the difference that webinars can make in how well a product moves after staff attends a webinar presentation. “After one of our partner accounts attends a webinar, we routinely see a marked increase in sales because the aestheticians and retail staff feel confident using and recommending the products. This benefits all parties involved. The spa moves product; the aesthetician makes commission or reaches sales goals, and, most importantly, the client receives a personalized regimen prescribed to address their unique skin care needs and goals.”
Some people hesitate to accept webinars as a viable option for education when compared to an onsite training, but the reality is that they are often more convenient and can offer nearly everything onsite training can. Peck adds, “We have the ability to customize webinars to the unique needs of each account. We can do live facial demonstrations, product knowledge, and in-depth science, anything our accounts ask for.” This flexibility allows for more frequent and specialized education than would be possible with traditional methods. Additionally, these sessions can be recorded and converted into easy to use videos that can be viewed by those unable to attend or as a refresher for those who were there. Technology now makes it easy to view videos like these anytime we want. Smartphones make it possible to stream education at the gym, in the car, or wherever you can fit it in.
Books and Audio Programs
Many pioneers of our industry have published books that focus on their area of expertise. This includes everyone from doctors to founders of successful companies. What better way to become the best than to learn from the best? Audio programs are another great way to grow. Legendary personal development speaker Brian Tracy encourages those who seek self-development to turn their cars into a “university on wheels” by listening to audio programs any time the tires are rolling. Books and audio programs are available on a wide range of topics, including sales, personal and business finance, motivational programs, relationship building, and so on. While these skills do not necessarily relate directly to aesthetics in the same way something like skin physiology would, they can be useful in the business side of the field, as well as help you relate or appeal to your clients more effectively.
Look for books written by those you admire and commit to setting aside 30 minutes or an hour several times a week to read a few pages. Even if you cannot complete the book quickly, you will be able to take what you gained from those few pages and apply that to your day or week. A book group is another great way to capitalize on this wealth of knowledge. Invite a group of trusted industry acquaintances to meet once or twice a month to discuss a book of mutual interest. Not only will it make the reading more interesting and beneficial, but there is bound to be discussion outside of the reading material and this networking opportunity can be invaluable. When you widen your circle of influence, you widen your potential for new ideas.
Ultimately, the key is to never stop growing. Many join this dynamic industry because they are excited by the infinite possibilities and avenues of study; however, it is easy to get distracted by the day-to-day activities. Never forget the passion and excitement that brought you to where you are; that will continue to bring you success in the end.