Vidal Sassoon, John Frieda, Paul Mitchell. In a world dominated by women, many men have found a way to stand out and make a splash in cosmetology. But fame and fortune aren’t everything, and you don’t have to be famous to be a successful male cosmetologist. What do you need? A passion for hair, the ability to connect with clients, and the determination to break into an industry associated with women.
It’s common for men to dominate certain fields, but cosmetology generally leans the other way, with women counting for a majority of the people in the field — about 85 percent of personal appearance occupations are held by women. That’s changing, though, and with that change comes new opportunities for men who may have previously felt they would be out of place in a cosmetology program.
Why should men consider going into cosmetology? Read on and find out why it could be the perfect career option for you.
Barber Vs. Cosmetologist: What’s the Difference?
Men have been cutting hair for hundreds of years under the title of barber, but cosmetology isn’t quite the same thing. If you’re considering a career in the hair field, it’s important to know the differences to help you choose your direction.
Here are some key differences that distinguish a career in cosmetology from a career in barbering:
- Barbers typically only cut men’s hair using basic techniques and styles. Some women do get their hair cut at barber shops, but the clientele is heavily male. Facial shaving is also a part of the job for barbers.
- Cosmetologists work with a broad range of techniques and products. They use different tools and different techniques to create complicated, cutting-edge styles.
- Cosmetologists are often allowed to perform many more services under their licenses compared to barbering licenses. Someone with a barbering license may only be allowed to cut hair and shave faces, while a cosmetologist can color hair and perform other treatments using chemicals, for example. The specific requirements and restrictions vary by state, so check with your local licensing authority for specifics.
- Cosmetologists learn about skin and nail care in addition to some makeup artistry techniques. This gives the student a wider skill set.
The training for cosmetology and barbering usually take about the same length of time to complete, but cosmetology courses generally provide a broader range of skills, giving you more flexibility in your career path. Some states have fewer distinctions between cosmetology and barbering.
The Job Prospects Look Great
Finding an industry with an expected growth higher than average is always a good idea. Cosmetology fits that bill. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 10 percent growth in the cosmetology industry from 2014 to 2024. That is a faster than average growth rate compared to other fields. The 10 percent growth rate is projected for both barbers and cosmetologists. What does that mean for you as a potential cosmetology student? It means the industry should continue having job vacancies when you finish your program.
Cosmetology Is a Skill That Can’t Be Outsourced
With many companies outsourcing work, cosmetology is a refreshing change of pace. Salons and barber shops need skilled cosmetologists in locations across the country. They can’t hire out the work. Your skills are always useful and applicable to beauty-related positions. This gives you a sense of stability in your profession. With an unemployment rate of only about 2.3 percent, lower than the national average, cosmetology skills give you a trade you can fall back on throughout your life — no matter where your career path takes you.
The cosmetology field also gives you the stability of the people connection. You connect with every person who sits in your salon chair. Some may be one-time customers, but others become loyal, regular faces you see each month. This gives you the stability of knowing you always have clients coming through those doors who keep you in business.
You Stand out From the Crowd
In a field dominated by women, men with cosmetology training stand out from the crowd. While that may be one reason you are hesitant to pursue this career path, it can actually work to your advantage. Being the minority in the field makes you an appealing hire. You add that male perspective to a salon full of women. You might attract new male clientele to the facility. Whatever the reason, being a male in the hiring pool just may get you noticed and help you find a job in your new field.
More Men Are Taking an Interest in Personal Looks
It wasn’t long ago that men clung to the rugged, manly idea that grooming and looking good were not masculine. Men popped into the barber shop for a trim and a shave but didn’t think about skin care, coloring hair, or getting anything other than a basic cut. Going to a salon would not even be considered.
That feeling, however, is starting to change. More and more men are taking better care of their hair, skin, and nails. Manicures and pedicures are not just for women anymore. Haircuts at salons are not embarrassing or awkward for men.
Who better to service the needs of male salon customers than other men? You know what men are looking for when it comes to salon services. After all, you likely want the same things. Being a male gives you that connection to other men who want the full salon experience without the feminine touch.
A Cosmetology License Expands Your Service Options
Men cutting hair for other men is nothing new. Take a look at any barber shop, and you will see plenty of men wielding razors and clippers.
But only getting a barber license usually limits exactly what you can do and what services you are allowed to offer. The licensing requirements and restrictions vary from state to state, but someone with a barbering license may be limited to using certain tools or techniques. You may not have the option of coloring hair or using chemical relaxers, for example. Barbers typically only offer simple men’s haircuts and shaving services.
Remember when we said men are taking a greater interest in their looks beyond a simple haircut? Getting training in cosmetology instead of just barbering puts you in a better position to fulfill those expanding needs for male clientele. So even if you plan to primarily market to men, training in cosmetology gives you more skills with all sorts of tools and haircutting techniques to give specialty cuts. It also gives you the knowledge and experience in hair coloring for men who want to explore color. You will even learn skin care, so you can show your clients how to take care of their skin to look great as they age.
A cosmetology license gives you the freedom to offer the services you want without as many restrictions as a barbering license. If you’re planning to take barbering classes, consider entering a cosmetology program instead to arm yourself with a well-rounded set of skills to give your clients the services they really want. If nothing else, you at least have a background in varied cosmetology principles even if you do not apply them on a daily basis.
Ivan Zoot, a licensed barber and cosmetologist in the Chicago area, embraces this broadened set of skills. He takes this blending of services to the next level with a class that combines barbering and cosmetology principles. Referred to as Cosmo-Barber-Ology, this continuing education class teaches licensed professionals how to take men’s haircutting to the next level. Known as The ClipperGuy, Ivan pairs cosmetology techniques with traditional barber techniques for a modern take on men’s haircutting.
Enroll in a cosmetology program, and you could be the next Cosmo-Barber-Ology expert.
It Doesn’t Take Long to Complete a Cosmetology Program
Many industries require extensive schooling to earn the certifications necessary to land a career in the field. Not so with cosmetology. The average length of time it takes to complete a cosmetology program is 12.83 months.
In around a year or even less, you could complete the training to get your cosmetology certification, preparing you to seek a career. Think of all the time and money you can save. Not only do you spend less money on a shorter training program, but you are also out in the field much sooner. You are earning a paycheck and gaining experience to continue increasing your pay.
Cosmetology Brings out Your Creative Side
For some men, entering the cosmetology industry is more about the creative aspect of the career. Not all jobs let you get creative. You can’t take creative liberties with someone’s tax return or your accounting work. If you did, you would not likely last in the field very long. Many professions have set procedures and protocols you must follow day in and day out.
If you’re yearning for a little more creativity in your life, cosmetology is one way to get it while getting paid. Unlike the starving artist route with no guarantees of payment for your creativity, a cosmetology career provides a steady income while you express your inner artist through hair.
Based on national research from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median hourly wage for cosmetologists was $11.12 as of May 2014. The top 10 percent had a median hourly wage of $22.04.
The beauty of working in the cosmetology field is the potential for tips. If you really knock your clients’ socks off or cut the hair of a generous tipper, you can bring home extra money in the form of tips.
You Get to Make Lots of People Happy
Think about your current job. How many times a day do you truly get to make people happy? How often do you get to make people feel better about themselves? If you don’t have enough of those happy customer moments, a career in cosmetology could give you the kudos you want.
Of course you will have the occasional picky client who won’t be happy with anything, but entering the world of cosmetology gives you the chance to make people look their best every day. It really is a rewarding profession where you not only get to see the transformations, but you get to be the one responsible for the changes. Cosmetology takes a lot of stamina and means a lot of hours on your feet, but you get rewarded each time you use your talent for hair to give a client just what they want.
It’s Not Uncommon for Cosmetologists to Own Their Own Businesses
Have you always wanted to be your own boss? Running the show in many industries takes years of experience and lots of funding. Cosmetology is one of those rare fields that makes owning your own business a very attainable goal for many people. In fact, about half of all cosmetologists were self-employed in 2014.
If you don’t want to work directly for a salon, you have the option to rent a booth so you can set your own hours and run things the way you want. As you gain experience, you have the option to open your own salon and hire cosmetologists to staff it or rent out booths to individuals.
Owning your own business is not the only option for advancing in the cosmetology field, though. If you like sharing your expertise in the hair industry, you can become an instructor as part of a cosmetology program or as part of continuing education classes.
You may discover you like the skin care and beauty aspect even more than the hair component, which gives you additional opportunities to expand your career. Becoming a consultant is one option. You might also work for a beauty product company as a consultant, sales representative or trainer. You may even come up with your own line of beauty products or create a new hair-cutting technique that takes the cosmetology world by storm.
Earning a degree in cosmetology doesn’t mean you will spend all of your working days behind a salon chair. The field offers many advancement opportunities for talented men and women, giving you control of your career.
What to Expect From Cosmetology Training
With the increase of men in the cosmetology field, there is a good chance you won’t be the only male in your cosmetology class. However, whether or not you are the only man, expect to be welcomed with open arms by your like-minded new classmates. After all, you are all setting out on your new adventure of making people look great.
So what is cosmetology training like? At Vista College, we combine classroom instruction with real-world experience to hone your skills. Small class sizes give you the focused attention you need to learn how to succeed in the cosmetology world. You gain skills and knowledge needed to pass the state board exam so you can become a licensed cosmetologist.
Hairstyling and haircutting are not the only skills in our cosmetology curriculum. Other topics our courses cover include:
- Perms and relaxers
- Equipment care and sterilization
- Manicures and pedicures
- Running a salon business
Take the Next Step
Have you considered pursuing a career in cosmetology but thought it was only for women? It is no longer rare to find men succeeding in the cosmetology field. To learn more, check out our cosmetology program to see if a career in the beauty field fits your future plans. Your future is waiting at Vista College.