Mid-life career change!


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New Member
Mar 11, 2023
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Hi all - looking for any advice or suggestions for a bit of a drastic potential change in career!

I’m 37, no children (yet) and work in a demanding job in construction. Due to various reasons - mostly job stress, I’m currently on a phased return to work after a month off due to burn out following a work promotion with no support. I’ve never really had a passion for my job or the industry and have grown to hate it but have reached a position where the salary is high which does afford me a really lovely lifestyle. However, my recent time off has made me re-evaluate and the thought of going back full-time is filling me with pure dread! I have also been lucky enough to receive a windfall recently which means I could potentially afford to give up work for a period to re-train. I also have a very supportive partner.

My absolute passion is beauty / skincare treatments and I have been researching courses and qualifications in this line of work, however, it would mean such a salary cut and a huge leap of faith. We’ve recently bought a new house and it has a large annex which would lend itself well to doing treatments etc.

I have been doing significant research into routes into the industry and all job adverts I’ve found require a NVQ level 2. There are various routes - college and private academy. Do employers favour one route over the other? I want to make sure I have the best start as I’m starting later in life so less time to waste!

Does anyone have any experience or advice on this?

Thanks so much for reading if you got this far xx
Welcome RachaelWelsh to the forum,

I'm "old school" college trained many years ago and have done add-on courses over the last few years to update my skills. Trust me it's hard graft getting a new business up and running and especially hard to stay afloat since Covid times. Sorry to learn that you have had a hard time in the past, and I am glad that you are now recovered.
I can understand that it is a time for you to consider a new direction.

Some things to consider:-
Wages- Generally very poor unless you are self employed. You should maybe keep a part-time job to help with the lack of wages, during the training and initial months.
Working in a salon is the only way to gain the necessary interpersonal skills, and deliver a good client experience IMO.
How long to get established and have real client numbers?- Around 2 years or so.
Working from home - Check with the local council concerning permissions if needed etc.
Mortgage provider - Check that you will be given permission from them before making plans.
Holidays? - I generally take 1 week off at a time as 2 weeks can be a pain to sort with clients' demands.
Illness? - No wages if you are off for any length of time due to illness. No sick pay other than SSP unless you make your own provision.
Pension? - Again, other than the state pension you would need to make your own provision.
Training? - College trained is my number one preference. I can't comment on private Academy's but I know others on the forum could give more advice on them.
Maternity? - You would need to check on this should the time come, but with not too much time left then why not try to become pregnant whilst you have the benefit of maternity pay/ paid leave etc.

I don't wish to put you off, but if you had asked the same question before Covid I would have given you a totally opposite response. The fortunate thing for you is that like you I have had a very supportive husband. Plus your windfall will allow for the dramatic wage reduction, either during training or the first couple of years in business.

Hopefully others may be able to give you some advice as it's so helpful gaining opinions from others.
I am towards the end of what has been a fabulous career, and I can thank Covid for wrecking it. My heart is still in it, but the clients are not returning, sadly.
I hope you keep us posted and I really wish you good health and very good luck.
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Hi RachealWelsh and welcome.

There are many therapists like me, who retrained in beauty much older and loved the change but it is extremely challenging atm due to covid, Brexit and the cost of living crisis. Only the most discerning clients still have money so it’s much harder to enter the industry as a newbie

You’ve had a really good and helpful response from Rosie. Speaking as a grandparent I’d say now is the time to focus on having children - financially it sounds like the right time and you could explore a career change at the same time. I wouldn’t recommend retraining and trying to get established in beauty before having children because it’s very challenging to balance maternity leave with a new business and financially it’s extremely painful.

If you don’t get any maternity pay perks with your job then you could take a gap year and combine getting pregnant with retraining - you’ll need to do a CIDESCO course which is about £10k give or take and covers level 2 and 3 beauty therapy and level 3 Spa therapy in one year so it’s very cost effective and time efficient. You’ll get lots of hands on training if you do your course with a company with a very good Spa attached because work experience is integral to the course. Check out the London private Colleges such as London School of Beauty and Make-up and also Champneys.

You want a CIDESCO or CIBTAC or VTEC qualification to get the foundations right. My daughter trained as an apprentice going to college one day a week and within a year she was very good, but she’d only covered level 2. It would have taken her another year to do level 3 this way. However, although she went back to her previous employment she says that she plans to go into beauty when she’s older and no longer enjoys the high pressure demands of her current job.

In a local authority College the provision might be a bit patchy and you’ll have to cope with learning alongside teenagers which isn’t for everyone (my daughter trained age 32 and she did find the questions from fellow students such as “have you had sex?” a bit hilarious- she’d already mentioned she had a child). Every course will have one or two mature learners and it is perfectly possible to reach a good standard (especially if you do a diploma course). But bearing in mind student fees are anything up to £7k pa if you’re not an apprentice and you’ll need to attend for at least 2 academic years it’s not a good value way to train if you’re giving up a well paid job.

There may be a very good local authority or private college near you that you can attend evening/weekend or one day a week and this is another option to consider especially if you can renegotiate your work contract to a 4 day week. You would need to set up a beauty room at home and start offering treatments in order to embed yoir learning - so you need plenty of friends and neighbours. As a student, this sort of thing won’t get you into trouble with The Council or your mortgage provider.

There’s a lot of doom and gloom in this forum, but the industry will bounce back eventually. I know quite a few mothers who’ve retrained in beauty and been able to work around their children and earn more than returning to their previous jobs after commuting and childcare costs. There is a 3-5 year adjustment period when you invest in training, set up costs and earn nothing so it isn’t right for everyone. I’ve also known some very successful massage therapists and reflexologists who have just spent around £4-5k and studied one weekend a month and set themselves up in a whole new career within 18 months.

So plenty of food for thought.
Explore the threads on this forum - this question is asked regularly and there are lots of newbies on here from every walk of life.

Best of luck
Hi and welcome! (I'm also new around) I admire your courage to consider a career change. Both college and private academy routes can work, so don't stress too much about that. What matters is getting the skills and certifications that employers value. Check out job ads, talk to people in the industry, and find out what they prefer) However, I consider there are some moments. Since you're starting a bit later, time is precious. Look for reputable institutions with top-notch programs and extra certifications. That way, you'll make the most of your training and stand out from the crowd. Networking is key, too. I mean attend events 'cause they can provide invaluable insights and job opportunities. Wishing you all the best, believe in yourself and shine bright! :)
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