Train for a New Career
Train for a New Career: Cosmetologist
Beauty never goes out of style, even during a recession
“I truly believe that a makeover can boost someone’s self-esteem, and I love seeing their smiles when that happens,” said Angie Gomez, a third semester student at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College. Gomez was introduced to the world of cosmetology at 12 years old, and has been building women up since. “I did makeovers for under-privileged women and saw the need to help make people look and feel better,” she said.
Sheeree Davis, who is currently enrolled in the cosmetology program at Palace Beauty College, shares Gomez’s enthusiasm for the field. “A woman’s hair is her glory, so why not have a head of healthy hair at the end of the day? And having a cosmetology license makes me multitalented in the industry of hair and fashion. If I choose not to do hair, I can be a manicurist. If not that, I can teach. And if I wanted to really evolve, I can be a salon owner.”
In the Classroom
In the state of California, you must pass the State Board Exams to receive a cosmetology license. In order to take the exams, you must have 1,600 clock hours of training in a Cosmetology Certificate Program. Learning how to do perms, facials, waxing and makeup application is just the tip of the iceberg. Cosmetologists-in-training receive instruction in various theoretical and practical areas of the beauty business, including hair design, color design, hair sculpting, nail and skin care, anatomy and salon business management, among others.
On the Job
Since Cosmetology training covers a complete spectrum of the beauty industry, the possible career choices are also broad. You could become a hair stylist or colorist, a salon owner or manager, or even a makeup artist for television, theatre, music videos and fashion shoots for websites. Some cosmetologists work in high-end spas and on cruise ships. Still others become sales reps for beauty products. Beyond that, some cosmetologists become educators, school owners, competitors and publishers.
Archana Kaushal, executive director of marketing for Marinello Schools of Beauty, said, “Because there are so many different areas our graduates are able to work in, variety will always be an exciting aspect of a cosmetologist’s career. The ability to do what you love and make people feel beautiful inside and out is an incredibly rewarding experience. The opportunity to be your own boss and getting paid to do what you love is just a few of several of the rewards our graduates can look forward to.”
A Typical Day
Professor Marilyn Maine, department chair of cosmetology at LATTC, described a typical day in the life of a cosmetologist as, “…many hours working on their feet, missing lunch and doing what they love to do. Cosmetologists are very passionate about their careers. They have the ability to make people look beautiful, but far more important, the ability to make people feel good. Having a positive attitude is a must!”
Juana Barron, supervising instructor and cosmetology instructor at Palace Beauty College, added, “A typical day consists of greeting clients, consulting clients about services and concerns in regards to their service…performing services such as haircuts, color, nails, etc…retailing products used on service and booking the next appointment. Punctuality, excellent customer service skills, excellent personal grooming skills and retail skills help the cosmetology student succeed in their career.”
In the Future
With the economy still struggling to recover, is the beauty industry a good career path to take? Barron thinks so. “Everywhere people need or want a haircut or other beauty needs. Everyone wants to look good all the time.”
Maine said that while the beauty industry has been affected by the country’s current financial troubles, it’s not as bad as other industries. “People still need to get their hair cut, and they need to feel better by looking better.”
“Beauty never goes out of style,” Kaushal remarked. “In such a rough period of economic times, very few industries are able to support or even maintain a sense of growth and success. The beauty industry, however, is one of a select few that has a growing demand for licensed beauty professionals.”
Typical starting salary for a licensed cosmetologist is around $35,000-$50,000 annually in the Los Angeles area. Opportunities for freelance styling and consulting can boost this, depending on how much you want to work. All the schools we spoke with offer career placement assistance with resume building, interview skills and finding jobs. Financial assistance programs are also available to those who qualify.
If gaining the skills to work in — or start your own — high-end salon is a personal dream, why not explore making it a reality?
Want to try your hand in the booming beauty industry? Open your very own virtual salon with Behind the Chair’s game “Running With Scissors”! Go to www.behindthechair.com/games and you’ll be greeted with the following instructions.
“Today is the grand opening of your salon and business is booming. Unfortunately, you haven't hired anyone yet, so you have to handle all three chairs by yourself!
Shampoo, color, scissors and money all rain from the sky. If you service each head of hair in the correct order, your tips pile up. If you can't keep up, your clients blow up--literally!” See if you’ll make the cut! ww