Heidi Luken has graduated from Okanagan College’s esthetics and nail technology certificate program and is employed.

Heidi Luken has graduated from Okanagan College’s esthetics and nail technology certificate program and is employed.

Estheticians are in demand

Okanagan College esthetics and nail technology information nights will be held Tuesday at the Vernon campus

She’s only 19, but Heidi Luken’s esthetics career has taken off.

A month before graduating from Okanagan College’s esthetics and nail technology certificate program, Luken was hired by Ten Spot Beauty Bar, a trendy Toronto franchise that recently opened its first B.C. location in West Kelowna.

“I’ve had multiple job offers and I only graduated. I’m able to negotiate my wage,” said Luken.

“With the amount of knowledge you have, employers want you.”

In the past four years, nearly all of the college’s esthetics students have found work in the field before graduating.

Instructor Candice Timm takes calls from employers across B.C., as far north as the Yukon and from the eastern provinces, looking for fully qualified estheticians trained beyond manicures and pedicures to include skin and body treatments such as massage.

The spa industry is growing in the Okanagan Valley, Timm says.

A Canadian Tourism Commission report predicted strong growth in the spa sector – an average annual rate of 17 per cent. The Spa Association of Canada reported the industry’s tremendous growth was reflected not only in the number of spas, but the diversity of spas and therapies available.

Okanagan residents interested in an esthetics career can attend an information session Tuesday in Vernon and Wednesday in Kelowna to find out more about the Okanagan College program, which is accepting applications for September.

“It’s not so much about creaming and steaming anymore. The industry is more wellness-based,” said Timm.

“The public is becoming more aware of the benefits of health and wellness and de-stressing.”

Timm, a registered massage therapist, clinical esthetician and nail technician, is the main instructor at the college’s spa training centre in Vernon, which is open to the public for appointments from October to June.

She says the college’s partnership with Dermalogica is among the reasons why employers value the esthetics certificate, which includes an extra 200 to 300 hours of training over other programs.

“We include everything from artificial nail treatment to body treatment, including massage, exfoliation and body wraps, which are not usually included in a regular esthetics program,” said Timm.

“The feedback we get from employers is they’re thrilled with the level of professionalism and knowledge our students have.”

For Luken, who originally planned to study law, helping people look and feel great is satisfying. She says the college’s reputation, amazing instructors and professional spa training facilities made her studies worth it.

“I love what I’m doing. I like to be around people,” said Luken. “I feel like I can do anything I want to.”

Okanagan College esthetics and nail technology information nights will be held Tuesday from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Vernon campus (E212) and Wednesday from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Kelowna campus (E103).

For more information, visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/spa.