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Welcome to Way Out West your unofficial guide to living, working and studying in the west of the province

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There are plenty of reasons why people get into the hairdressing and beauty therapy industries. Many people have a lifelong passion for it; some see it as an opportunity for career change; and some are drawn towards it because of the job security it offers, as one of the most popular, constant industries on the high street.

Whatever the reason, however, one of the major benefits of the job is that you can always learn more. And whether your plan is to open up your own business, or simply ensure that you’re up to date with the latest trends and techniques, South West College can help you up-skill and go further in hair and beauty.

Add qualifications to experience

The nature of this industry, which involves training, apprenticeships and natural learning on the job, means that it’s a profession people get into in a variety of ways. For some, formal education and qualifications come secondary to in-house training – but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth pursuing, at any stage.

Nicole Hurson co-owns Rachel and Nicole’s hair and beauty salon in Magharafelt, and is a prime example of someone who worked in the industry before completing any formal qualifications.

She says, ‘from a young age I always did hairdressing. In my local town I worked in a hair salon from the age of eleven, just washing hair and cleaning up. However, when it came to progressing down the career path, I decided I would have to look at the educational route, and South West College felt like the perfect fit. I started out at Level 2 hairdressing, which I did full time, and when I progressed from it I studied Level 3 during the day, as well as taking barbering classes at night.

‘I went on to travel and spent a few years working in Australia. When I got home, I got talking to one of the lecturers in the Dungannon campus and she helped me realise what I needed to do next to progress with my career. She suggested I study Level 4 and the HNC and HND Level 5, so that encouraged me and I signed up and studied one night a week for the next two years.”

Learn new skills

Hair and beauty is an industry that’s always changing and South West College’s part time prospectus is full of courses perfect for those who are working in the industry and want to learn new skills, or are looking to get started in this line of work. Eyelash Technician courses, Nail Technician courses, Make Up Artist Courses, and Massage Therapy courses take place across the SWC campuses and vary in length, starting at just eight weeks duration.

Orlagh Colton studied Sports Massage Therapy at South West College, part-time for three years, an educational journey that has helped her open her own business.

Invest in Yourself

If things work out in this line of work, there’s a chance you can invest in yourself – after all, for many beauty therapists the prospect of opening your own salon or shop is the ultimate goal!

This is made even more possible because skills learned in the hair and beauty industry are transferable and international. Loretta Gallagher is a former South West College Beauty therapy student who has now been working in the industry for 11 years. She has lived in Australia for 4 years, and is Salon Owner at Enchanted Skin Care and Beauty. She says:

Loretta Gallagher is a former South West College Beauty therapy student who has now been working in the industry for 11 years. She has lived in Australia for 4 years, and is Salon Owner at Enchanted Skin Care and Beauty. 

“Currently I own a beauty salon called ‘Enchanted Skin Care and Beauty’ in Sydney, Australia. South West College gave me the foundations in beauty therapy, without which I would never have been experienced enough to own my own salon. South West College have a brilliant form of teaching, they push you to achieve your highest potential and always encourage you to reach the highest level possible, so I never hesitate in recommending it to people.

My salon has now been open a year and I hope that it will continue to flourish for many more years. I also hope to keep furthering my beauty knowledge by learning new treatments. I love owning my own Salon, and my time at SWC helped me with this too. Not only did I achieve my beauty NVQ certificate, but SWC also helped me gain my English and Maths grade C. I was also able to further my knowledge by doing a night class and learning ‘reflexology’ after gaining my certificate.”

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