Higher Licensing Requirements
A new trend is emerging in states toward requiring added hours of skill and safety training before performing certain advanced services. For example, Colorado requires state approved hours for graduates prior to performing microdermabrasion (14 hours) and acid treatments (24 hours). Two states have gone further, adding a requirement for a second level of education before legally performing microdermabrasion, peels, and other more advanced services, considering them potentially dangerous without a higher level of education and experience. The first state to require this second level of education was Utah, passed in 2001, and coincided with the state’s new aesthetician license. “The aestheticians in Utah worked very hard to get this through,” says Bureau Manager Daniel T. Jones, Utah Cosmetology and Barber Board. “We had no preconceived ideas of what a license should be, since we were just then developing our license requirements, so we developed the requirements according to the industry and public safety needs in our state.” The law requires a first level of 600 hours for learning the basic skills, then 600 more to become a master aesthetician, an aesthetician who is additionally trained to perform the more advanced skills. “Our aestheticians spend more time on the basics, and then are more ready for the required 600 hours of extensive training in advanced skin care skills and safety,” Jones says.
Virginia’s statutes provide for a similar two tier requirement that took effect in 2007. “Licensed aestheticians will be trained in aesthetics basics in a 600-hour course, and then attend an additional 600 hours in advanced modalities prior to legally performing more complex treatments as a licensed master aesthetician,” says Zelda Dugger, Virginia board administrator. The second-level master aesthetician treatments are defined in the law as non-laser lymphatic drainage, chemical exfoliation and microdermabrasion. “We are directed by statute to go from no aesthetic license requirement to one that protects the public without being overly burdensome,” she says. Graham Webb Academy President Christine Gordon supported this second level requirement and is very proud of Virginia for going from no license to the two tiered. “Many aestheticians are very happy doing good, basic, relaxation skin care, but those who want to perform microdermabrasion, acids, lymphatic drainage and other advanced skills need this level of education,” she says. She and a fellow aesthetician devotee, Laura Todd, president of The Institute of Advanced Medical Esthetics, lobbied hard for this law and received calls from aestheticians and law makers in other states researching the possibilities of adding the second tier. “They are mired in the language of their former law, but it would be great to see this trend grow in the United States,” Gordon says. One school added a second level of education to its curriculum, even though it is not required in its state. Poway Academy, a school graduating over 200 aestheticians a year, is located in an area riff with spas, medical spas and aesthetic medical practices, and is located in a California, which has the largest concentration of plastic surgeons and dermatologists in the United States. These potential employers seek aestheticians with advanced training, but they are unable to find them. They were calling Poway Academy’s President Lynelle Lynch, pleading for graduates of this caliber, and her students wanted to leave school with the training required to work in these settings. “A void existed between what we could train in the basic course and what many of the employers needed in new hires,” she said. So, she has added a second level master aesthetician course to the school’s curriculum. “We modeled the curriculum after the Utah and Virginia master aesthetics courses while carefully staying within the scope of practice for aestheticians in the state of California. Then, we sent it to the Bureau of Private Post Secondary and Vocational Education and it was approved.” Lynch was so committed to the concept that she added 6,000 square feet to her academy in order to meet the demands of quality training in master aesthetics. She believes that other schools will follow this trend and that, eventually, the second level will become a norm across the United States. “This will align the schools with the professional skills required in this exploding industry,” she says.
Another school added a second tier, focusing on paramedical skin care many years ago, though it was not required by the state. Florida College of Natural Health, Steiner Education Group, with four locations in Florida, has a second level course geared toward students gaining the skills to work in aesthetic medicine offices and spas.
A trend is out there for aestheticians to add “M.E.” (Medical Esthetician) and “C.M.E” (Certified Medical Esthetician) after their names. But what is the basis for using these letters as professional designations? For example, graduates of the Florida College of Natural Health paramedical course are not awarded an advanced license or title after graduating from this second level course. “Our graduates are still known as registered facial specialists in Florida, but can be confident they have the advanced skills they need to work in these environments and can portray this capability to potential employers,” says Sherry Parker, director of education at the Steiner Education Group. Many employers who are actively seeking aestheticians specify that they must have their associate’s degree, which means they must be from this program.
At the present time, the only persons authorized by states to use the initials “M.E.” in the United States are the master aestheticians who have graduated from the second level courses in Utah and Virginia. Graduates from these courses learn all of the skills required of the person who wishes to be called a medical aesthetician, and have many hours of hands-on practice time. Even though no cosmetology board will label them a medical aesthetician, in deference to the medical boards, these aestheticians are learning the skills and the support information needed to be working in these advanced settings and graduate with a legitimate “M.E.” as master aestheticians.
It is beginning to happen and it is about time. Colleges and universities see our niche as needing educational support and degreed courses, starting at the associate’s level, then the need for bachelor’s degree courses. More are on the horizon as the trend continues to gain momentum, with many degree courses developing more frequently. Todd developed an Associates of Esthetic Sciences course that began in 2005, for students at The Institute of Advanced Medical Esthetics in Richmond, Virginia. “Our course is accredited by the State Council of Higher Education of Virginia, and is a combination of the Basic and Master Esthetician Programs, plus 15 credits of designated general academic education,” she says. The course is attended by students who want a degree they can use, but do not want to attend traditional academic courses. “The associates is respected by their family and friends and has resulted in there being more support of aesthetics as a true profession,” she says. “This course is on the same par as nursing now, as nursing is also an associate’s degree level program.” Employers see these graduates as committed professionals who are academically inclined, and hire them over others who are not degreed.
Florida College of Natural Health offers five associates degrees in natural health. The programs are accredited by The Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). The associate of science courses are each 60 plus semester credit hours with 900 plus clock hours of hands-on clinical training, each with a different focus and taking anywhere from 18 to 21 months to complete. The bachelor of science course focuses on skills in massage therapy, physical fitness, spa therapy training and management training. This is a unique program that trains the student to manage a wide variety of spa establishments: from medical spas to wellness spas, from day spas to destination spas, from maritime spas to land-based resort spas. It is 123 credit semester hours and takes 34 months to complete. “We have seen a lot of interest in our degree programs from new students entering the industry that realize the value of obtaining their college degree, and from graduates that have been massage or skin care service providers and want to move into management,” says Parker.
Many schools are focusing on upgrading to offering an associate’s degree to their potential students, or are placing it in their goals for their future. The Institute of Cosmetology & Esthetic has future hopes to add an associate’s degree to their curriculum for the reasons Todd mentioned. “We were the first school approved by CIDESCO in the United States, and we have added a spa for our graduate students to enable them to gain experience and make money while they are in the CIDESCO level course, and are ready to add the associates degree benefit when we can,” says Margrit Altenburg, director. “A legitimate associate’s degree is a long development process, but it is on our goal list.”
Many courses are available to enable spa professionals to gain information and higher skills than the basics they learn in their licensing hours. Hundreds of these short courses are available for licensed spa professionals. They can be found from well-organized, large continuing education systems, such as International Dermal Institute that teaches many topics for aestheticians and massage therapists to enhance their information and techniques, to specialty courses. An example of a specialty course is The North American School of Pedicuring, a pedicure certification program founded in 2000 by Katharin von Gavel. This course is designed to help distinguish the professional who has advanced training and knowledge in pedicures, from the standard salon technician. Upon completion of the Level 1 four day course with an 80 percent or above score, graduates are then eligible to apply to the International Pedicure Association for the prestigious designation of Certified Master Pedicurist™ (C.M.P.). Three additional courses are available to students, including one two-day course that covers sanitation, disinfection and sterilization of pedicure baths and implements to address the increasing problem with infections and cross-contamination.
Continuing education (CE) courses are of two types, those for training in product knowledge, and those that are non-product related and focusing on information and skills. Both offer important information to attendees, non-product related courses focus on information and technique, while product knowledge courses focus on correct use of the product line, inserting information and techniques as they fit into that use.
Aesthetic education was developed around the cosmetology model, meaning it is focused on technique and does not contain much instruction on business building and management. These skills are becoming more and more important; however, as the industry grows at a rapid rate, it increases in complexity and requires more and more managers.
Credible courses are now available that are tailored specially for salon and spa owners, managers, practitioners, and others currently working in the spa industry. For example, The University of California Irvine Extension has an academic-based certificate program in spa and hospitality management that is designed to bridge the gap that exists in spa business education today. “The program was designed to meet the business educational needs of the spa professional. The growth in the spa industry necessitated the design and offering of a business focused body of knowledge to better prepare spa professionals,” says Angela Jeantet, M.B.A., associate director of UC Irvine Extension’s business and management program. This program provides the necessary skills and knowledge to prepare the next generation of senior management professionals for success. It focuses on the business models and positioning needed for the various spa categories as well as on operations, management, resources, treatments, services, equipment, marketing and retailing.
Another example of advanced business training is Salon Training International (STI) founded by Susie Fields Carder. Fields Carder came into this business in 1982 and it took her five years to build her business. She realized what she lacked was business expertise. “It was painful,” she says. “There weren’t any resources readily available for professionals on growing their business. I had to learn from trial and error, struggling to make ends meet.” Soon, she discovered what she needed were systems, or methods, to control the outcome of her business, allowing it to be fun while taking it to the next levels of success and profitability. When she created Salon Training International in 1993, she became committed to bringing the fun, energy and passion back to salon owners by providing them the business tools they need to run their business. STI now offers over 100 seminars each year to large and small audiences, aiding the attendees in taking their salons to the next level of success.
Advanced education is now readily available in our industry. Are you ready to reach the next level of your career? Then search out and define what education you need to achieve your goals and go for it. Next, gain experience in new skills and techniques. Last, use this expertise and you will achieve the high success you have always desired.
Janet McCormick, M.S., is a licensed nail technician and aesthetician, a former salon owner, seasoned instructor of nails and skin care skill, consultant and author. McCormick has achieved status as a CIDESCO diplomat and holds a master’s degree in allied health management. She has authored over 200 skill and business articles in industry trade magazines. Her newest book, Spa Manicuring for Salons and Spas, describes a new, profitable focus for the industry: skin care based manicuring. janmcc