The Pickens Technical College Cosmetology Department prepares students for running their own salon. Instruction is focused on not only how to cut and style hair (which obviously you’ll need to learn how to do to open your own salon), but also how to manage client expectations, work with all kinds of clients (and hair), and more. The Cosmetology program at PTC also includes training in makeup, nails, and skin care.
While introductory students get a bedrock of theory in a lab setting to understand what clients are looking for in a hair or nails salon and how to satisfy those needs. Then, in the intermediate and advanced classes, students get the opportunity to work with real patrons of the Salon at Pickens Tech, where customers come in for great service and care from students gaining valuable experience. The Cosmetology Department has several instructors, all with strong cosmetology experience and backgrounds to help students get the skills they need to succeed.
PTC’s Cosmetology Program produced professional stylist Justine Robbins in 1992. Since then, she has loved having a trade skill she could always fall back on: “There have [been] many times in my adult life that having a license to do hair has [gotten] me through…” Mrs. Robbins says that “having a trade is, at times, better than having a college degree.” She learned a skill twenty-five years ago that still pays the bills and gives her opportunities.
And now, Mrs. Robbins’ daughter Armani attends PTC’s Cosmetology Program in hopes of one day going into business with her mother. Armani says that because her instructors in the Cosmetology Program “have gone over things that could happen in the salon & how we need to take care of them” as well as how to consult with clients and help even the most difficult of customers. Armani has gained valuable experience working hands-on with real clients to practice her skills on all types of hair to prepare her for her future in the salon business.
Armani’s dream is to work with her mother. She has already talked to Justine about opening their own Sola Salon together. Mrs. Robbins already has loyal clientele who swear by her services. If Armani can bring in her own customers, they can set up shop together as mother and daughter, both doing what they love for a living. “…my goal is to end up working with her because she’s been a really good guide while I’m in school anyways, so having her by my side is definitely want I want in my future cosmetology career,” says Armani.
Between the experience and skill of her mother and the experience-focused education in the cosmetology department at PTC, Armani is well on her way of realizing her dream and becoming another skilled salon owner. Creating something for one’s self is difficult, but with a skill learned from some of the finest teachers at PTC, you can make a business and a way of life for yourself. Two generations of Robbins women have shown this is possible.
Pickens Technical College gives students the skills they need to work in the trade they desire. PTC is an alternative to expensive four-year colleges for students who want to work with their hands and avoid the tens of thousands of dollars of debt for tuition. Four-year colleges, despite their place of reverence in American society, aren’t necessarily the key to a successful or happy life. The narrative of going to college, getting a good job, and buying a house isn’t the sole path to happiness anymore. As students of PTC know, the path to a fulfilling career and all the rewards that come with it isn’t the same for everyone.
That said, almost every job requires proficiency at something. I’m good at writing. If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t have a writing job. But the training for rewarding work doesn’t have to occur at a four-year, traditional university costing you $40,000 a year.
There are millions of jobs available for people with specialized skills that don’t require four-year degrees. Last month, in an interview with Fox News, “Dirty Jobs” television host Mike Rowe spoke about the “skills gap” in the American job market and urged more young people to enroll in vocational schools to gain the skills they need more affordably for less debt. Rowe said in his interview:
There is no hope without an education, got to be clear, you have to have some competency. But the idea that the best path for the most people just happens to be the most expensive path, there’s just something fundamentally corrupt.
With the amount of manufacturing and specialized skill jobs like HVAC repair people, auto mechanics, and factory production workers available in the United States, most of them not requiring four-year degrees, the opportunities are there for PTC students and those in similar situations. The problem, as Rowe pointed out, is in the perception of these jobs as lesser than others and the lack of awareness that these opportunities exist. With better awareness, students can create excellent opportunities for themselves by eschewing the university for a trade school like PTC.
The key to preparing for a career in a field like nursing or automobile repairs is getting hands-on experience doing the work you’d be doing in your future job. PTC creates plenty of opportunities for its students to get their hands dirty and learn a skill they can use in their careers. By starting your journey at PTC, you’ll be avoiding the trap that many newcomers to the workforce fall into with the pressure to get a good-paying job right away to make a dent in their debt but without the skills they need to find said jobs. Mike Rowe created a scholarship that rewards work ethic and the desire to seek alternatives to the normal treadmill everyone else seems to be jumping on. PTC helps students who want a different way to get to the career they want for a much lower cost.
Pickens Technical College student Colten Messer won the Post-Secondary Gold Medal award for Motorcycle Service Technology at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference. In March, Mile High Harley-Davidson presented Messer with a brand-new Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide Ultra motorcycle. This fine piece of machinery will not only help students in the Motorcycle Service Technology class, it will serve as inspiration for those students in the program working hard to learn how to service and repair motorcycles and readying themselves to enter a lucrative and worthwhile career.
PTC has many examples of students who have used the instruction and hands-on experience they gathered in its many programs and areas of study to reach high career goals and win regional and national recognition in competitions like SkillsUSA. SkillsUSA pits students at many levels of education against each other in competition to see who has learned the most in their field. In these timed events, students from across the state test their skills with tasks set before them and judged by experienced workers in their field. Each state has its own competition featuring the best students. Those students who perform well at the state level move on to the national competitions.
Mr. Messer beat out 17 other state champions in his competition to bring the prize to Pickens. Motorcycle Service Technology instructor Tom Laing is extremely proud of Messer and all his students, many of whom who have gone on work comfortably in the motorcycle dealership and mechanical service industry over the years. Laing has 14 years of experience in the field and has spent 10 years teaching students all aspects of Motorcycle Service Technology elements, including how to run their own motorcycle repair business. Laing is a certified technician for many American and Metric Power Sports brands like Kawasaki, Yamaha, and, of course, Harley-Davidson.
As more students show the country what PTC is made of, enrollment in the Motorcycle Service Technology program is sure to increase, giving Laing more opportunities to turn out excellent motorcycle technicians and potential business owners in the future. With the resources available to the students at PTC’s Motorcycle and Power Sports Program, Messer’s success in competition is no surprise. It just goes to show how successful students can be if they latch on to the lessons and experience coming from teachers like Laing.
Students who sign up for the Motorcycle Service program at PTC can expect to gain all the competencies for a Motorcycle Service Technology Basic Technician Certificate and an Expanded Certificate, both of which will get you in the door of a motorcycle repair shop and possibly on your way to running your own motorcycle repair business. Messer showed what can happen when applying all the skills and training he learned in the Power Sports department at PTC. What will you do with your training?
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