Beauty School Matures

People looking for a hands-on career without a large investment in classroom time may want to consider entering the spa industry, where skills for manicures, pedicures, hair and skin treatments have been in demand.

Area schools like Keiser Career College in Miami Lakes and the newly-opened Empire Beauty School in Lauderhill both say this ”feel good” field is the profession of the times. The latest Occupational Outlook report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics bears that out, predicting jobs for personal appearance workers will grow by 14 percent from 2006 to 2016, which is faster than the average for all occupations.

Jobs for hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists are expected to increase by 12 percent because many now cut and style both men’s and women’s hair, and because the demand for hair treatment by teens and aging baby boomers is expected to remain steady or even grow. Employment of manicurists and pedicurists is predicted to grow by 28 percent.

Estheticians and other skin care specialists are expected to see the largest gains in employment — 34 percent — as more facial procedures become available and more popular in spas and some medical offices.

Beauty school administrators like Neil Finkelstein, educational director at Empire Beauty School, call the spa field ”recession-proof” because people “will sacrifice buying that third dress and come to a salon to make themselves look better.”


But some in the field warn the market for such jobs is shrinking, as more clients give up luxury treatments during the recession.

”There usually are a lot of opportunities, whether it’s with plastic surgeons and dermatologists or at spas, but right now the availability of jobs has collapsed,” said Dr. Nathan Mayl, a board certified plastic surgeon whose Fort Lauderdale offers medical spa services. “Our regulars on the esthetics side aren’t as regular as they were a year ago.”

Competition for jobs in high-end spas also is fierce. Once hired, employees seldom leave, resulting in low turnover, said George Lopez, spa director at Spa Palazzo at the Boca Raton Resort & Club, which offers massage, saunas, skin care and aromatherapy.

But recent ”spa school” graduates will catch his eye.

”We do look at the superstars in school who just graduated because it’s sometimes easier to teach someone who has not developed bad habits yet,” Lopez said.


Empire, which opened its doors here Jan. 26, has its first class of 20 now in session. Classes begin every six weeks. The 1,200-hour course is taught over 8 ½ months and includes instruction in esthetics, pedicure, manicure and massage.

”We don’t just teach the skin part and that’s it; they have to take the entire program,” Finkelstein said.

Tuition runs a stiff $15,000 — about the same cost as tuition and fees for four years at the University of Florida. But financial aid is available for those who qualify. Part-time programs also are available.

The Empire program is accredited by the nonprofit National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences in Alexandria, Va.

Amber Barutco, paramedical esthetician coordinator at Keiser Career College in Miami Lakes, said her students get hands-on training on clients and frequently are placed with doctors’ offices.

Keiser Career College also is sanctioned by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology in Arlington, Va.

”Most schools stop with a basic certificate known as the Florida Facial Specialist License, and you only need 260 hours for that license, but to be employable, you need advanced certifications,” she said.

Keiser certifies paramedical estheticians in microdermabrasion, microcurrents, LED light therapy and electrodesiccation. Training in medical terminology and medical charting also is part of the program.

Keiser’s program takes about a year to complete for full-time students, said Vice President Marion D’Amour, at a cost of about $6,356 a semester. Grant money and financial aid are available for those who qualify.

Students there also can receive help with their résumés, preparation for state exams and job placement.  (Miami Herald)

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