Cubicle Free Careers

George T. Taft

From the arrival of Dilbert in the 1980’s to the publication of blogger Pam Slim’s 2009 book, Escape From Cubicle Nation, the perils of toiling in an office cubicle have been the punch line of many jokes. Who could forget the infamous “TPS” reports in the 1999 movie Office Space; perhaps the ultimate satire of life in the corporate world; or the office trivialities that arise into full-blown dramas each week in TV’s The Office?

As the Class of 2009 enters a fiercely competitive market, and office dwellers continue to be outsourced, down-sized and laid off, many individuals are reconsidering whether the “corporate world” is for them.

The American Association of Cosmetology Schools, which serves as the voice for nearly than 850 member cosmetology schools across the nation, reports increased enrollments among individuals who have been laid off as well as recent high school and college grads seeing a career that lies outside of the office.

“Careers in beauty offer a tremendous amount of flexibility in terms of location and daily routines,” noted American Association of Cosmetology Schools Executive Director Jim Cox. He noted that while many people envision a cosmetology career as leading to a job in a salon; graduates work in a range of settings ranging from day spas to television stations; cruise ships to rehabilitative service organizations.

Mr. Cox noted other aspects of beauty careers that are attracting individuals to cosmetology school; including:
o Flexible hours – Today’s generation is looking for the autonomy to create their own schedule. Many beauty careers including salon owner, esthetician, colorist, massage therapist and more; provide tremendous flexibility in working hours.
o Creativity – No two client’s needs are exactly the same. While a stylist may perform 12 haircuts in a day, each client will have a unique hair structure and concerns about the type of cut they desire.
o Unlimited earnings – Ultimately, advancement in a beauty career is a function of an individual’s work ethic and energy. Beauty careers are immune from the “annual review and standard of living increase” that characterize traditional office jobs.
o Stability – Personal care services including skin care, nail services and styling cannot be performed via technology at a distant call center.

While careers in beauty offer many benefits not available in an office environment, corporate jobs do instill valuable skills that will benefit future cosmetologists. These skills include the ability to manage one’s time, deliver excellent customer service and sales techniques. “Many of our most successful students cultivated strong sales and customer service skills while working in another industry. However, most cosmetology curriculums today include coursework on sales and service in addition to style and technique,” Mr. Cox noted.

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