Trade schools have often had the unfair reputation of being less-desirable educational institutions when compared to four-year colleges. However, in an ever-changing economic landscape with evolving student needs, non-traditional schools have become a unique path to career opportunities for many.

Jill and Burt Kohler, founders of Scottsdale’s Penrose Academy, a school for cosmetology and esthetics, have led the charge in giving the image of specialty education an overdue makeover. Seeing a desperate need for a level of real-world training beyond what beauty schools were teaching at the time, these 19-year beauty industry veterans launched what is now Penrose Academy in 2006.

Penrose Academy’s revolutionary approach to education goes beyond the industry status quo that in the past had left students ill-prepared to enter the beauty field. Seven years after its inception, its unique hands-on programs and business management training have reshaped the career options available to graduates.

“The advanced skills our students gain during their experience at Penrose prepare them for an endless number of jobs they never realized they could pursue,” Jill Kohler said. “In addition to working in spas and salons, careers in beauty industry marketing, PR, runway work and education are all at their fingertips at graduation.”

The Kohler’s groundbreaking educational style, which focuses on improving students’ lives on both a personal and professional level, has set them apart in the industry. Most notably, students receive a long list of résumé-boosting opportunities before they even graduate. From editorial work to runway shows, trade show demonstrations to traveling abroad, Penrose Academy students do not just learn the business … they live it.

Penrose Academy’s push to inspire students to achieve more than simply earning a license has garnered it national attention and positioned the school as a respected industry leader. Most recently, the academy was recognized with the Business of the Year and Overcoming Adversity awards at the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce’s 2013 IMPACT Awards.

Penrose Academy offers a 4-day schedule for cosmetology students and a 3-day schedule for esthetics students. Convenient weekly schedules and year-round start dates give students the valuable flexibility to gain an education and dedicate time to family, work and other responsibilities outside of school. For more information on Penrose Academy’s programs, visit or call (480) 222-9540.