September 2008

Jerry Tyler

Blue Highways | by Jerry Tyler


Now Is a Great Time to Become a Beauty Professional

With the focus of this month’s Stylist being entry into the amazing world of the beauty profession, I can’t help but reflect on my 34-year journey as an industry professional and the many wonders that continue to unfold after borrowing $300 from my father in 1974 to go to beauty school.

So much has changed and evolved in our industry, yet so much remains the same. Many features and benefits that were newer then are now time tested. And we are now in uncertain economic times, much the same as when I entered our industry in the mid ‘70s.

We had double-digit inflation, double-digit unemployment and gas prices were at an all time high. In trying to decide whether to go the traditional higher learning route or learning a trade, I noticed that my hairstylist friends always had cash and some were even buying homes, even though housing prices were at an all time high.

The mother of one of my closest friends was a shampoo assistant in a shop. Every Saturday she came home with a car full of groceries—the gains of a hard day’s work in the shop. Licensed since the great depression, she told me that she always had money in her pocket during the ‘30s when most of America was out of work. When her husband lost his job during the ‘60s, it was her ability to style hair that put bread on the table until he was able to get back on his feet.

In good times and bad, the demand to look and therefore feel good has made our industry recession and depression proof.

The constant evolution of fashion fueled by the creative core of our industry is a huge draw to those who aren’t drawn to traditional corporate careers. We all know the perception that beauty school is for the uneducatable. The reality is that all the requisite skills to succeed in the corporate and business environment are alive and well in the beauty industry.

The ability to write your own job description and follow that path to the financial and creative abundance we all deserve is another draw to enter the beauty profession. Master hair cutter, colorist, spa technician, educator, salon manager, the choices are endless.

Our industry is global. Fashion has no boundaries, except those we make for ourselves. We can work anywhere our talent, expertise and passion will take us, insuring untold freedom and independence—both creatively and financially.

The educational opportunities in our industry have never been as plentiful as they are now, with options to meet the specific needs of any future industry professional. Many of these schools are creating strategic alliances with professional hair product companies and educational resource providers to offer state of the art training resources for their students. Advanced schools offer continuing education to keep pace with emerging trends and assure we stay relevant in an ever-evolving fashion and business landscape.

Where it comes to schools, the choices start with high-end boutique schools with identifiable cultures of education to affordable quality chain schools and individually owned beauty schools and academies throughout the U.S. of every description.

Most schools offer more than the traditional tuition, grants, scholarships and student loans for those who need financial assistance. There are also organizations that work to guarantee quality education and protect students’ economic rights by certifying and accrediting schools. Doing so assures the integrity of the education they are seeking.

Many community colleges and trade technical institutions offer education in the industry through the public education sector. This is not only affordable, but the community colleges combine the traditional cosmetology course with an associate of arts degree, with completion of additional courses or units.

As an alternative to the traditional route, some states offer cosmetology and barber apprentice programs. This is on-the-job training by a mentoring master professional. In lieu of formal schools, this hands-on training in the workplace is combined with supplemental classroom education; it allows the apprentice to earn a wage while learning their craft. Most apprenticeships take longer than traditional school due to the nature of this form of training. Many apprentices build their clientele while being supervised in the salon and are well on their way to financial success by the time they complete their program and become journeyman stylists or barbers.

Now, as at no time before, our industry assures continued financial growth and creative achievement in uncertain economic and political times.

Jerry Tyler’s column Blue Highways is his “Road Less Traveled” perspective on the solutions and challenges facing the beauty industry. Jerry Tyler has been a stylist since 1975 serving as the former artistic director for Vidal Sassoon Academy and currently as Director of Education for Carlton Hair salons. He is also a licensed cosmetology instructor and has served as President of the California State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology.