An interview with Andre Nizetich, Master Haircolorist and President of the American Board of Certified Haircolorists.
What is a Board Certified Haircolorist?
A Board Certified Haircolorist is an individual who has passed a stringent test mechanism established by a committee of his/her peers. The test mechanism is established to measure the competence of the applicant’s haircoloring skills.
What is the purpose for establishing certification?
The purpose of establishing certification is to recognize those individuals with a greater degree of competence from those who have not yet reached a higher level. Clearly, there are various levels of competence in haircoloring. Our goal is to recognize those individuals who have gone the extra mile to become the very best in their craft. To the consumer, the term "Board Certified" is recognized as being a higher level of competence.
Why would someone want to be certified?
Establishing oneself as a Board Certified Haircolorist will give potential clients the ability to select those haircolorists that have reached a higher level of competence. It also will give the haircolor professional more esteem and professionalism in the eyes of the consumer – a goal that every haircolorist should want to reach. To become board certified is to first become educated.
How will a client recognize they are Board Certified Haircolorists?
There is an ad campaign targeted to the consumer to seek out Board Certified Haircolorists when having their hair colored. Currently, the ads are run in hairstyle magazines. As we generate more Board Certified Haircolorists, the budget will increase. There is also an 888 number, a client referral booklet, and you are listed on the certified haircolorists' web page. The ad campaign is paid for by Board Certified Haircolorists who choose to participate in the ad campaign. A certified haircolorist will be encouraged to publicize the fact they are board certified. A beautifully framed certificate will be presented to those who have reached this prestigious level. We have also designed postcards and press kits for the purpose of having the Board Certified Haircolorists promote themselves.
How difficult will it be to become certified?
The test mechanism has been developed and refined over the past five years. The ABCH Board of Directors and the first team of evaluators determined what should constitute a Board Certified Haircolorist. It is a double-edged sword – if the examination is too easy, the certification process becomes an exercise in futility.
On the other hand, if it is too difficult, you will have a great number of disgruntled candidates. Adjustments have been made since the first examination where 50% of the candidates failed the examination. Our goal is to certify 70% of the candidates who take the examination. The key to passing the examination will be to study the materials and to practice all of the various tasks. It was determined that those who failed the examination were those who failed to prepare for the examination. The study portfolio is a 250-page document defining the entire examination process.
How is the committee going to increase the pass rate?
We have actually made the test more difficult, but at the same time we are suggesting the candidate prepare for the examination. The tasks are more defined and the scoring procedure is thoroughly explained.
All of the written questions are listed on the website. The candidates can take a series of 60-question written examinations. The exams are then corrected and feedback given. It is a wonderful way to study for the written exam. There is a small fee for taking these exams.
What will the certification examination consist of?
There will be three parts to the examination. The written examination (which consists of 250 true and false and multiple-choice questions) where some of the questions are directly from a photo album. These are things the committee felt a certified haircolorist should know and will test the cognitive skill of the candidate. The performance portion of the examination will require the candidate to perform specific tasks on a mannequin that will test the psychomotor skills of the candidate. The performance examination is the most challenging and the most subjective. The third portion of the examination will test the effective skills of the candidate by posing certain challenges to the candidates and having them solve these challenges.
The candidate must pass all three portions of the examination in order to become certified.
If you fail one portion of the examination, do you have to take the entire examination again?
No, you only need to take that portion of the exam that you failed.
What is the price for re-testing?
Depending on the portion failed, the written is $75.00, the interactive s $85.00, and the performance is $150 (which includes a new mannequin).
It is not necessary to retake all portions of the exam at the examination site. The written and interactive exams can be administered by evaluators and board members.
Is it necessary to have a number of years of experience to become certified?
The Board of Directors has ruled out any prerequisites for taking the examination other than a current cosmetology license.
Experience is not necessarily a standard that constitutes excellence, as oftentimes an experience is a bad experience. The examination will be the standard on which one will be evaluated. At some point, when there is an ample number of certified haircolorists, a prerequisite may be established. The candidate may have to spend a year working under the guidance of a certified haircolorist prior to applying for the examination. The certification process of most professions requires working under an experienced professional. Until there are a number of masters, it would be difficult for the Board of Directors to establish this as a requirement.
The beautiful thing about this examination is that the evaluators do not read the candidates’ press kits. It does not matter to them the size of their clientele or how much money they earn; whether they work alone or in the largest salon in their community. They do not care if there are no other certified haircolorists in their community or if there are fifty other certified haircolorists in their community. The only evaluation that is made of the candidate is how well they perform in the examination.
Does the certified haircolorist have to be skilled in other aspects of the cosmetology profession?
No, only haircoloring.
How can you guarantee a client that a certified haircolorist will always do a superior haircolor?
No system is perfect – the certification process will only determine that the haircolorist knows the subject matter. Even a champion professional golfer picks up the wrong club to make a shot every now and then. No examination can guarantee the individual who passes will perform a color the client will be happy with. It is much like a driver’s licensing test: just because a person passes the driver’s test does not mean they will not make improper judgments. Future plans call for receiving feedback from clients who were recommended to a Board Certified Haircolorist. If the office receives negative feedback, the haircolorist will be contacted and notified that they received a negative report.
What manufacturers' curriculum will be used for the study materials?
There will be no single manufacturer involved in the development of the curriculum. The curriculum has been developed from a number of sources, including manufacturers who have had the opportunity to comment on the curriculum during development and before it is made available for the examination. It is the opinion of the Board of Directors that haircolor education should not come from the same individuals who are attempting to sell you haircolor. A standard curriculum needs to be established to clear up the fragmented foundation that now exists. The ABCH curriculum is written by haircolorists and strives to eliminate many old wives' tales in favor of solid, truthful education.
What will this certifying body be called?
It will be known as the American Board of Certified Haircolorists (ABCH). When a haircolorist passes the examination, they will be recognized as being board-certified. The ABCH is a non-profit corporation.
How much will it cost to become certified?
The price of $625 has been established. The price will include the cost of the mannequin, clamp for holding the mannequin, a batch of hair for making swatches, and the study portfolio. If the examination is passed and the candidate is certified, they also receive a beautifully framed certificate. Go to the registration page for a breakdown of prices.