By Anthony Dynar

Cosmetology students in several states in the country continue their legal dispute with their local cosmetology schools. What they justifiably call, a violation of their state and federal labor laws. These students pay anywhere between $12,000-$20,000 towards their tuition to complete an hourly requirement, set by the state, to become licensed professionals in the cosmetology field.

“It is not hard to see that these beauty schools, across the country, are making money off the backs of these students who are just aspiring to earn an honest living” Anthony Dynar says, the owner of a Paul Mitchell Focus Salon in Tempe Arizona. Anthony completed his cosmetology program back in 2005 when the state of Arizona required 1,600 hours of education just to cut hair. Now that requirement has been reduced by recent legislation, in Arizona from, 1,600 hours down to 1,000 (for just the hair portion of the license). Still many times more the national average to become professionals in fields where someone’s life is in the balance like law enforcement, EMT’s, fire-fighters, etc… “Because my beauty school was in Apache Junction Arizona, where there are a lot of retired seniors there living on a fixed income, we often just did perms and shampoo sets” he explained. It appears that the unreasonably high hour requirement for schooling is due to the free labor these schools get to profit off of.

The structure of how your hours are split up very from school to school, and state by state, but after approximately 300 hours or so these students begin working for free on the public. Once the school teaches you the theory behind cosmetology they let you work on the public under the supervision of a licensed cosmetology instructor. 100% of the money goes to the school and none of it goes to the students. And to further the point, if the client base is extremely revolving around only one, or just a few services, then at what point do students go from learning the trade to just being victims of indentured servitude? To add insult to injury these students must pay increasingly higher tuition fees in order to work for free--because the beauty schools have lobbied the government to make it so.

Often it is state law that these cosmetology school students cannot be paid but these beauty schools also do not apply any credit towards the student’s tuition. How is this fair? It is in the best interest of the beauty school to keep the required hours high to obtain a cosmetology license because not only do they get to charge more for tuition, but they also get free labor longer. This is perhaps why other professions require much less to become licensed even when someone’s life is often on the line. When comparing this practice to other forms where work and education comes together, such as interns, "[y]ou can't assign unpaid interns to do work that directly benefits your business or that a paid employee would do, such as filing paperwork" (https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/small-business/perils-hiring-intern-businesses-2/).

“My school would NEVER turn away a service even if that’s all we did. At what point am I told that I got a perm down to a science and I should move on to a skill or service that I could use help in? The answer was never… That’s because these beauty schools often put profit over people and they hid behind the disguise of ‘education.’ What part of my education requires others to earn the fruit from my own labor?” Anthony argues.

Why is the beauty industry treated differently than any other business? Should students be forced to work for free even if it is not necessary of their education?

To read more about this fight see the Associated Press article by Ed White

 

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