How to Become a Nail Educator
Many nail technicians, after working in the industry for only a short period of time, often come to the conclusion that the key to profit, fame and success is to become an educator. Since many nail educators are seen working the booths at trade shows, providing classes to large groups, and are written about in magazines it is easy to see how so many techs decide that the next natural step to take their career to the next level is to become a teacher. The idea of making money off of paid classes, traveling, and the prestige gained from being active and visible in the industry seems so appealing to so many. So how does one become a nail educator?
First step to becoming an educator in the beauty industry is to throw all your ideas of glamour, fame, and money out the window. Being an educator does not make you rich, famous, nor is it inherently prestigious. Being an educator is about using an organized and structured curriculum along with a professional product to instruct a nail professional on how to improve their skill set and their services. It is about sharing all of your knowledge and expertise in the hopes of improving the industry and the nail techs you happen to educate. Being an educator can be demanding, strenuous, time-consuming, and trying. You share your hard earned skills with the public for relatively small amounts of money in the hopes that they adopt the use of higher quality products, improve their skillets to help elevate the industry, and in turn generate more profit that gets reinvested in the industry. It is a cycle of life within the nail world that allows our industry to continue to grow and thrive. Too often people hop on the educator band wagon just for the sake of making a quick buck. They offer generic classes that do not focus on product education and focus more on things like shortcuts or nail art techniques. Now these generic classes are not always a negative thing, but there are definitely too many techs out there taking it upon themselves to educate others when they themselves have not gained enough knowledge or experience to properly aid others in their careers. An inexperienced nail tech teaching a more inexperienced nail tech is like the blind leading the blind. Unfortunately neither of them will far because they are more than likely "educating" in a freelance format with no curriculum, no course structure, and no focus on product knowledge. You don't have to have 30 years of experience to become an educator (I'm a prime example) but you do have to understand that being a teacher is more than sharing tips and tricks for money. It's about being the highest possible quality representation of a nail professional as well as being a constant and consistent mentor for your audience. Don't choose to become an educator because you think it will advance your career or make you money. Choose to become an educator because you honestly feel you have enough knowledge and expertise that you improve the nail community in and organized and high quality format.
So still interested in being an educator? Ok here's the basic outline.
Step 1: Find a company that you love. Choose a company that makes products you love to work with. Try as many of their products as possible and make sure that the products they make are products you like using on a very regular basis. Work with their products for at least 6 to 12 months so you can see how everything works out over time. Are their products high quality, innovative, competitively priced? Do they offer support for their users? Also make sure the people that own, educate for, and work at the company are also people you like interacting with. As an educator you become part of that company's team so it's important to not only like the products they make, but make sure you like your future teammates.
Step 2: Take an introductory class. Buying lots of products from a company doesn't make much sense if you don't properly understand how to use them. Take an introductory class so you fully understand each product they make. A lot of nail techs buy something before they fully understand how to use it, they try it, fail, and then throw it in a drawer and decide it's a terrible product. Give each company you investigate a fair chance by at least making an educated choice as to whether or not you like their products. Taking classes from the company also helps you feel out their style and their education structure. You are one day going to be teaching those classes so see if you like they way they do what they do.
Step 3: Sign up for the program. Almost every major nail company has some kind of course outline as to how you get from generic user to educator. The larger companies will have more hoops you have to jump through, but they will have a more organized and robust process. Smaller companies will have less hoops but may not be as structured. If you're someone who likes everything to be laid out in black and white, then pick a bigger company. They will be able to offer you more structure whereas smaller companies are often better for people willing to "go with the flow". It's really about how your personality fits in. Some nail techs would be more comfortable as part of a large global team where they know exactly what roll they play whereas others would prefer a smaller team where they can wear more hats. Depending on the company you will have several courses you need to take in order to prove abilities.
Step 4: Get evaluated and grow as a professional. Realize that even if you try your hardest you may not be ready for the highest level of educator that a company offers. Each company has their own idea of what makes a great educator and usually that has to do with a combination of your technical abilities, your public speaking abilities, and your salesmanship abilities. Being a great nail artist unfortunately is not the end all be all when it comes to educating. You have to be comfortable working under pressure. Take trade shows for example; often you have people standing at a claustrophobic distance from you while they scrutinize every move you make as you quickly try to demonstrate a technique or product usage while answering questions and explaining yourself all at the same time. This can be super unnerving and makes some people freeze up and falter. So if you're not good at being put on the spot then educating may not be the best idea for you. Nail educators that work for professional companies are sales reps in a nutshell. By no means are you expected to sell sell sell, but companies want the best representatives they can find. They want their educators out there in the industry inspiring, teaching, and creating a following.
Being an educator does not really improve my bottom line for my business in a direct way. In fact I end up having to leave my salon in the hands of others while I go off to support a product I believe in. It's a lot of hard work, dedication, and focus to be a great educator and for me it was absolutely the right choice. I find it extremely rewarding to use my business and technical acumen in conjunction with my nail expertise to aid other nail techs in improving their businesses, but don't feel pressured to be the same. Each person in this industry plays and important and unique roll and being an educator is just one of the many ways you can enhance and grow your career.