Electrologist Licensing or Certification? Which is better?

June 4th, 2015
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Electrolysis LicenseElectrologist Licensing or Certification? Which is better?

Actually, neither! They are completely different credentials!

It's easy to confuse licensure - a mandatory credential in some states, marked by required coursework and exams - with certification. Certification is a strictly voluntary credential, obtained through a professional organization, with the purpose of expanding one's professional abilities beyond the scope of initial training. Although many people use the terms interchangeably, they are not the same thing at all.

Barbara Greathouse, LE, CPE, sheds some light:

"People seem to use both terms when they mean licensing. They will say, 'My state does not have certification.' Now, you might receive a certificate of graduation from a school you attended, but that also is not certification. Licensing means that your state requires that you have some hours of training (specific to the state), take a written exam, and often take a practical exam before you work on the public for pay. Certification is obtained by an examination above and beyond licensing, and is (usually or always?) voluntary."

If you're seeking a career in Electrology, it's a pretty good bet that your state requires licensing – 32 states plus the District of Columbia require licensing coursework and examinations ranging from 300 to 1500 hours, plus a written exam, and some also require a set number of CEUs (Continuing Education Units) each year for license renewal. Some states even require an apprenticeship in addition to the coursework and exams, to ensure practitioners are giving the best care possible. An apprenticeship provides the opportunity to learn on the job from a licensed professional in a working environment. Not all states require such an apprenticeship, but many licensed electrologists pursue one regardless, in order to hone their skills and ensure that their clients are well taken care of and satisfied with their services.

So, if your state requires licensing and you've passed all the exams and met all the criteria and get to display that shiny LE after your name, why would you pursue certification as well? Licensing is sufficient, isn't it?

Yes, licensing is absolutely sufficient. If your electrologist has met all the licensing criteria in your state, you can be assured that you'll be treated with the utmost care and professionalism. Certification is like a custom paint job on a Porsche – the Porsche is already gorgeous, but custom paint is certainly nice to have to make it really stand out!

Pursuing Board certification through the American Electrology Association is a terrific way to make yourself stand out as an electrology professional. It shows that you're committed to expanding your knowledge and skillset, and to keeping on top of the latest developments in your field. Like licensing , the CPE credential requires maintenance in the form of continuing education and periodic examination. To maintain the CPE credential, which is recognized in 12 countries, the electrology professional must accrue 75 "contact hours" (similar to Continuing Education Units) through courses, lectures, seminars, and home study, or retake the CPE exam every five years. It's a tough exam, requiring intensive study, but those who pursue the credential find it rewarding, and appreciate the extra reassurance the CPE credential provides to their clientele.

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