At a salon, your income varies according to how many clients you do. And, while more salons than ever are offering benefit packages, many still do not. As a cosmetology instructor, all of that changes. Your hours are set, your income is steady and you’ll most likely receive healthcare insurance, vacation pay and other benefits. An instructor can earn in the $60,000 range or higher.
In general, states require additional hours of training for instructors. Those states that do not require a high school diploma for a cosmetology license may require that level of education to become an instructor. Different schools’ requirements for acceptance into the instructor program may exceed the state requirements. Coursework for instructors supplements technical training by including an emphasis on communication skills and teaching strategies.
Both Raquel Garcia and Lisa Kersting work as instructors at Pivot Point schools, where educators start out teaching the most basic courses and move on to eventually teach pretty much everything. Their stories represent typical career paths that can lead to teaching.
I didn’t want to change professions after 18 years in the business, because I love what I do. But standing all day was becoming hard on me physically. Still, I couldn’t see my future without hair in it! I had done some education for product companies, so I knew I enjoyed teaching.
I had graduated from a Pivot Point school in Nebraska and still lived in that state. So I went back to Pivot Point but had to relocate to the school’s headquarters in Illinois. As an alumna of the school, I was required to complete 500 hours, which is half the requirement for people who took their original training outside the Pivot Point system. I had saved enough money from years of working, plus some earnings from winning competitions, to pay the instructor program tuition.
The decision to teach opened so many doors for me. I thought I’d go back to Nebraska after finishing the program, but Pivot Point founder Leo Passage talked me into staying in the Chicago area. The fast pace and the trendiness-I had no idea I’d like it so much! After teaching for the past five years, I’m now in charge of 30 educators and also help to write curriculum. I travel about six times a year doing platform work at shows. I’m also training for the Hair Olympics in 2008.
During the nine years I worked in a salon, I was always either going to school or teaching. First I got my associate degree, then my bachelor’s degree in biology and then my cosmetology teaching degree at Pivot Point. After I started teaching, I still worked at the salon for a while. Recently I decided to do strictly educating.
I have a class of brand new students who have never held shears properly in their lives. I love the fact that the more time I spend with them, the more I can see my influence. They start using the terminology I’ve given them and being able to do what I’ve shown them. It’s very rewarding.
At 26, I’m one of the younger educators at Pivot Point. I started in the industry when I was 17, so I have a lot of experience under my belt for my age. I think at first some of the other educators were unsure of my abilities, but I proved myself because I do have all of that salon background. And the more I teach, the more I learn and the stronger I become.
The best part
“My favorite part of the curriculum I teach is the long hair competition we do at the end of their first eight weeks,” says Lisa Kersting. “They’ve all received exactly the same education, and it’s fun to see how they take all the components they’ve learned to this point and create a design on their own. They’re proud of themselves, and I love that part.”
Raquel Garcia likes the pace, saying that there’s never a dull moment when you’re teaching. “I also love watching where students go after starting so fresh and new. I’ve already had some superstar students, and I’m excited to see how far they take it!”