In case you haven’t seen it, our industry was recently featured in a full two-page spread in the Sunday edition of the New York Times. Sounds fantastic, right? Well, take a second to read the article and let us know what you think in our comment section below: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/26/business/cosmetology-school-debt-iowa.html
Then there are all the articles across the internet that summarize and point back to the NYT exposé. Don’t bother searching; they won’t brighten your day. Just for a taste, this one’s also disheartening, but at least the snark is on point: https://jezebel.com/for-profit-cosmetology-schools-sure-seem-like-a-big-fuc-1831321401
We would love to write a blog post just trashing the NYT investigation, declaring the allegations false and words pure, slimy slander. Unfortunately, the cosmetology experiences described in the NYT article aren’t out of the ordinary. Our cosmetology school system is broken. Hopefully, the NYT investigation will shine some light that gets the attention of lawmakers, who we need in our corner to pass laws and regulations that make sense for our industry.
We couldn’t let the article skate by without making a comment, however, because in the process of calling out our cosmetology school system, the article paints a hairstylist’s career path in a most unflattering, disillusioned way. This is where the journalism disappoints us. Even if a NYT subscriber merely skims the article headline, “A $21,000 Cosmetology School Debt, and a $9-an-Hour Job,” a seed is planted with the negative misrepresentation of a hairstylist’s worth. As in any industry, the more work one puts into their career, the more money they will make. The same is true with a hair professional. There’s no cap that says $9/hour is what a hair professional will make, and that that’s as good as it gets. This headline, and many of the monetary earning digs within the article, perpetuate prehistoric preconceived notions about a career in the beauty industry that need to be laid to rest.
If you’re thinking about a career as a hairstylist, don’t let this New York Times article turn you away from a life you will probably love (if you’re anything like us). Take the article as a warning to do your due diligence when choosing a cosmetology school. Interview potential schools as much, probably even more than, they interview you. Don’t sign anything without reading it in full and don’t borrow any money that isn’t absolutely necessary for your education. If possible, don’t use student loans for living expenses. A loan is not a gift; it’s a handcuff. Borrow with a repayment plan in place. Also keep in mind that becoming a hairstylist is like a four-year degree. The first year is spent in school learning the basics and the next three years are spent learning the business. 99.999% of hairstylists didn’t come out of cosmetology school making six figures. 99.9% of English majors don’t graduate college making six figures, either. Be ready to put in the work.