Electroepilation (electrolysis, thermolysis, and blend treatments) are safe and effective for large and small areas. Just a few hairs on your chin or upper lip? Fifteen minutes or less and occasional appointments. Feeling like a bear? Schedule several hours and watch your favorite movie.
In over 30 years of practice, quite a few of my clients told me they would like to become an electrologist. I believe they viewed doing my job as an opportunity to be their own boss, to have flexibility and freedom from the drama of working with others, and to be able to spend quality time with family. Being an electrologist does mean you have more control of your life, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
When I decided to write this blog I thought about all the electrologists I know. A vast majority of electrologists are women who work without employees, and as a result they wear all the hats associated with owning and operating a small business. Being a “solopreneur” encompasses a large amount of responsibility for one person. Not only do electrologists provide hands-on care to their clients, they also run a business and often juggle a family.
To learn more about who becomes an electrologist, I surveyed electroepilation (electrolysis, thermolyis, and blend) practitioners from social media settings that serve the United States, European and Commonwealth Countries. One survey asked how they decided to become an electrologist, about their views of the profession as time passed and if they would share their personal stories. In another survey about demographics 50% of respondents stated they were the sole support of their family, over 40% share financial responsibility with a partner and less than 10% do not support themselves or their family with income from providing electroepilation treatments. Nearly 90% of respondents were female; more than 5% were transgender, and more than 5% male. When asked what they believed the gender of the profession the averages were: female 89.13%; transgender 6.44%; and male 4.44%. This survey was taken by a small sample of practitioners and does not represent the actual numbers of electrologists in practice.
Attending a school for electrolysis and setting up a business could be one of the least expensive and quickest of professions to enter. The obstacle for many is the fact that there are few electrology training facilities to be found, so leaving a family for the time it takes to receive training may be out of the question. An individual with a good credit rating should be able to borrow the money to attend school and finance equipment to get started in the business, but again, if your life is already in motion, it is difficult to stop that motion to obtain the education needed to become an electrologist.
WHO BECOMES AN ELECTROLOGIST?
Electrologists come from many walks of life. A small percentage of electrologists grow up in the profession, having had family members already in practice. Over 40% of respondents came to the profession because they had been seeing an electrologist and they wanted to help others in the same way. One electrologist added that she decided in the 6th grade that she would become an electrologist after having been herself “the original mustache lady.” Of the electrologists surveyed, 44% of respondents came to the profession from an unrelated background. Fifteen percent of respondents came from the beauty industry, with some developing an interest after receiving mandatory training as part of a beauty therapy program. Twenty-one percent of respondents came from the medical industry with one-third of those coming from dental hygiene background. Over 10% of respondents came to the profession at a very young age and while some had other jobs this has been their only career. A small number of respondents reported to have stumbled across the profession accidently, and never looked back after getting into practice.
HOW SOON CAN I MAKE A LIVING?
When respondents were asked how quickly their practice became self-sustaining more than a quarter answered that it took 2 years. Over 20% reported it took more than two years; over 7% said it took a year; and nearly 20% reported it took 6 months to become self-sustaining. This would indicate that most new electrologists could safely project a three year plan to become established.
DO I NEED ANOTHER JOB? SHOULD I CONSIDER OFFERING OTHER SERVICES?
Over 55% of the responding electrologists provide other types of treatments; however they report electroepilation services as providing 85% of their business income. Many electrologists also provide esthetic (skin care) services.
WHAT KIND OF HOURS CAN I EXPECT TO WORK?
The average electrologist works between 31 to 40 hours per week providing electroepilation services. 36% of respondents work 1 to 30 hours per week and 33% work more than 41 hours per week with 5% of respondents reporting to work more than 60 hours per week.
OBSTACLES FOR THE NEW ELECTROLOGIST
Respondents were asked what obstacles they had when they were a new electrologist in practice. Over 70% stated that getting clients to come was their biggest obstacle. The cost of equipment was a factor for nearly 30% of electrologists surveyed; under 20% found it difficult to find a training facility or apprenticeship; and under 20% believed it difficult to select a location for their business. Less than 4% of respondents believed their young age was a negative factor when they started in practice. They believed it contributed to lack of support from other electrologists and the fact they had to work other jobs during their start-up years.
OBSTACLES FOR THE ESTABLISHED ELECTROLOGIST
Being established does not prevent the electrologist from experiencing obstacles to practice. Fifteen percent reported the cost of advertising was their biggest problem after becoming established. Over 10% reported advertising by other hair removal methods as their biggest problem. One electrologist wrote that inaccurate marketing of laser and IPL misleads people to expect complete permanent (hair) removal and in turn, this creates a misinterpretation of electrolysis as archaic and lengthy and only useful on small areas. Another complaint about “competition” had to do with seeing poor results from nearby colleagues, which they believed caused a “guilt by association” response from consumers. Over 10% reported being isolated from colleagues and opportunities for education as their biggest obstacle. Less than 10% of respondents stated client retention was a problem after their business was well-established. One electrologist stated, “Convincing some people to stick with it when they have a lot of hair to remove,” was her biggest problem after being established. Nearly 15% of respondents stated that they had too much demand, and their obstacles had to do with finding staff to help, or finding staff they could trust. The cost of doing business was mentioned with respondents listing licenses, location, and advertising as part of a financial obstacle. The electrologists were not asked how old they were, but 20% of respondents saw the need to take more personal time because they were seeing changes in their stamina due to age as their biggest obstacle to practice. It is a well-known and recognized fact that electrologists are an aging population with few new electrologists coming into practice.
Electrologists were asked, “Are you satisfied with your decision to become an electrologist? Is there anything you would say to encourage someone who is looking at becoming an electrologist?” The following quotes are just a few of the responses.
“Yes, very satisfied. The ability to change someone’s life by treating and removing distressing unwanted hair is very rewarding. No day is the same so I never get bored. Just love my job!” Mandy Painting, C&G, BIAE, CPRE
“It was the best thing I could have ever done for myself. I would encourage anyone to take the plunge and stick with it.”
“Yes! Making people feel better about themselves is definitely rewarding. Sometimes you see their whole outlook on life change or they create a more positive environment for themselves. It’s amazing!” Mary Patno, L.E. http://www.clearchoicenh.com
“A very nice way to be self-employed. Clients are appreciative and excited once they are cleared.”
“Yes. I tell people it’s a great way to work for yourself and that there is a need for skilled electrologists.”
“Yes, I’m satisfied. I can’t imagine a more rewarding profession – you literally change people’s lives by giving them back their confidence. You see people coming to you at first with their hair falling over their face, wearing a polo neck and they won’t look you in the eye because they feel so bad about their hair problem. As treatment progresses you see them coming in with their hair tied back, their head held high and looking you right in the eye – there’s nothing to beat the feeling that gives you, knowing that you are the one who did this for them.” Helen Graham. MBIAE [British Institute & Association of Electrolysis. http://www.about-face.co.uk
“Yes, if you love to help people this is the career for you.”
“It is a great satisfaction to get people to have serious results, but it is very hard sometimes the customer is satisfecho. Necesitas much positive energy, tenacity and self-esteem, because they will require ‘impossible’ and have to do it ‘possible’.” Concha Miralles Diplomada desde 1973. España
The aging population of electrologists would indicate the need for a new group of recruits in the profession. Becoming an electrologist doesn’t happen overnight because it takes planning and time to build up an electrology practice. Connecting with other electrologists can help with referrals, and networking will help get exposure for a new practice. Physician referrals are a great to have, but the very best exposure is word of mouth from happy clients.
Skills are important when it comes to being an electrologist. The training will vary according to the laws where you intend to practice. Obtaining training and the scarcity of training opportunities may be the most difficult part of becoming an electrologist, but developing good skills is the most important part of the process. The savvy practitioner will continue building on their training by reading, participation in hands-on events and attending continuing education opportunities after they start their practice.
Communicating accurate information to consumers and making the public aware of a electroepilation practice should be expected for the duration of one’s practice. Even the well-established electrologist will want to continue evaluating their communication skills and practical techniques and treatment results. As time passes better magnification and lighting may be needed to help aging eyes. Upgrading equipment and decor, and checking for “coffee spills,” will make sure the practice surroundings and appearance is acceptable to clients. Maintaining one’s health will enable the electrologist to continue an ongoing practice.
Electrologists are included occupational employment statistics for the related profession of skin care specialists (esthetics). According to U.S. News, “Esthetician” is the 29th of “The Best 100 Jobs,” and 19th in “Best Health Care Jobs.” Skin care specialists are also listed in the fastest growing occupations on the U.S. Department of Labor website.