Training: Finding the right school to continue your beauty education

As a professional, you'll understand the importance of keeping your skills up to date. However, when you attend workshops or training days, or organise in-salon training for your team, there's so much more to consider than just which subject you want to study.

“Training should be an inspiring and informative experience and something that should be repeated regularly,” advises Marie-Louise Coster, therapist and founder of All About Mi Beauty Therapy & Training School. “Whether learning something new or updating and refreshing the skills we have it, is only the naïve therapist that thinks their initial training at college is enough to keep them ahead of the game and make them the very best therapist they can be.”

“Whether you are running your own salon, self-employed or building up your business, investing in training and development can help to future proof both you and your business,” explains Alan Woods, CEO of international awarding and assessment organisation, VTCT. “Education should be seen as a tool to progress a person's career that can be used to reap the rewards at every level, and once initial training, such as an apprenticeship, is complete, then the learning should not stop but rather pursued and encouraged at every opportunity.”

He continues:

“However, on the job learning alone might not be enough to provide you with what is needed to retain good staff that are eager to learn more and enhance their skills. Everyone learns in different ways and understanding the options, and that learning does not just stop after formal education is complete, will make sure that your team benefits from the wide range of courses that are available, and are able to develop both personally and professionally.”

Education, or Continuing Professional Development (CPD), shouldn't only be considered useful for your day-to-day work now, it can have a much longer-term result. 

“Looking back at where I started, training gave me the drive to move forward in a new career. Just like I did with my career path, there's the potential to become an educator, distributor, or manufacturer,” says Susan Gerrard of Gerrard International and founder of The Susan Gerrard Beauty Academy.

So how do you choose the best place for you to study? 

Level & quality of qualifications

“Do your research,” advise Donna and Aoife, Creative Academy Educators. “The most important thing would be that the training school/academy and its training you will avail of is certified and recognised within the industry.”

They continue:

“Look at how professional the school is and how good the communication is between trainers and students when enquiring about the courses or training available to you. By doing this it will give you an idea of the atmosphere within the training school and allow you to engage with the trainers beforehand by asking for their advice.”

Look out for training schools and courses that are accredited, or backed by the leading industry bodies, as Marie-Louise explains:

“If the course you enrol on is not properly accredited you won't be able to gain insurance, therefore you won't be able to offer the treatment and the whole expense and exercise would have been pointless. Check that the course and training provider are accredited with the likes of ABT and that your insurance company will accept the qualification and cover you for insurance purposes.  

“Some companies are very clever with their wording, so if you aren't sure ask them to clarify who they are accredited by and check with that accreditor that they are in fact accredited.”

How much will the course cost

Don't be swayed by the cost of a course; the old adage ‘you get what you pay for' certainly applies to education. A course should represent value for money, but opting for the cheapest may leave you non the wiser when it comes to implementing the skills you wanted to learn in a salon environment. 

Marie-Louise offers some advice: 

“Although cost is probably going to be the main influencing factor please do not let it be the only factor when making your choice. The cheapest option is not always the best option, equally I acknowledge that it may not always be the worst. The most important factor when choosing a training provider is researching exactly what is covered in the course. Often a cheaper course may be shorter in length and therefore there isn't as much content to the course. It is usually a case that the practical hours are sacrificed so you don't get to practise the skill as many times – and as we are a practical industry the more practise we have during training the more confident and proficient we will be in doing the treatment – in turn making the treatment more successful.  

“Don't be afraid to contact the training provider and ask them exactly what is covered in the course to ensure that it will meet your needs – they will be more than happy to help.”

Educators' credentials

“The experience of the person teaching you is also a factor that should be high on your list when choosing your training provider,” says Marie-Louise. “You are going to learn so much more from someone who has a wealth of experience and knowledge. On the training school's website, they may well have a whole section about their staff – if not ask them what experience they have. Don't be afraid to ask lots of questions if necessary, you are investing a lot in them and need to be sure you are making the right choice.”

Plus, you also want to be taught by educators who are passionate, as well as knowledgeable, about their subjects, as Donna and Aoife explain:

“Over our years in the industry, we have done many training courses and being educators ourselves, think it is really important to have passion and good knowledge of the industry to pass onto your students. As well as making your student feel comfortable by encouraging them on all levels.”

The course location

If you're committing to a longer-term course, the location of the training school or college may be high on your list of priorities. Some people don't mind travelling if they're attending a course they really enjoy, but if you're the sort of person who doesn't like to drive far, or can't face long journeys on public transport, this should be a consideration for you. 

Take into account whether the traveling time would fit into your other daily commitments, such as work or childcare. 
Investing in a course is not just about spending money, it's about investing your time and only you know how much of that you can spare.

Education should be something you embrace as an individual, and encourage as a salon owner or manager. There is no end to learning; every course, workshop or seminar you attend will have a benefit, and if you choose wisely, can open doors to enhanced career opportunities and business success.