Why California Cosmetology and Barbering Schools Should Continue Tracking Student Skills, Despite CA SB-805

Why California Cosmetology and Barbering Schools Should Continue Tracking Student Skills, Despite CA SB-805

Why California Cosmetology and Barbering Schools Should Continue Tracking Student Skills, Despite CA SB-805

Recently, California passed a bill permitting cosmetology and barbering schools to reduce their program length from 1,600 and 1,500 hours to 1,000 hours. They also eliminated practical exams and are no longer requiring hands-on skills tracking. 


The bill was passed with good intentions. In theory, lowering the requirements will improve access to licenses and education, allowing more students to pursue an exciting career in cosmetology and barbering. But, unfortunately, the regulation was passed by lawmakers who do not fully understand the level of training it takes to become a qualified professional in this industry. 


Salon owners and other California professionals have expressed dismay at the new law. Soledad Méndez, co-owner of Gabello Salon, told KCRA Sacramento she fears this law will result in a surge of under-qualified workers. Ray Stainback, Palomar Institute of Cosmetology owner, told The Coast News that this bill damages and lowers the bar for the industry. 


Schools must continue to provide students with the highest quality of education to ensure they are hireable post-graduation. Here are three reasons why California schools should continue tracking practical skills, despite this lax in regulations.

Ensure Students Are Adequately Prepared For The Workforce

Salon owners are nervous about the change. Méndez also told KCRA Sacramento that 600 hours is essentially three months of training now cut from a student’s education. She believes that it will ultimately impact the quality of services provided to clients. 


Because the new law also accepts all out-of-state licensees, salon owners may choose to hire out-of-state stylists who receive more comprehensive training, potentially decreasing placement rates for California schools. Although the decrease in program length may increase retention rates, decreased placement rates will be harmful to your school in the eyes of accreditors and the Department of Education. 


Tracking practical skills will help your school prove to salon owners that your students receive a thorough education and are adequately trained. While it may not fully ease their concerns about expedited programs, showing that students have successfully completed hands-on skills training will give them peace of mind.  

Tracking Skills Improves Student Accountability

Hairstylists and barbers have to maintain a high level of professional accountability in setting their schedules, maintaining relationships with clients, and ensuring their work is top tier. Tracking practical skills gives students accountability over their progress and teaches them how to be accountable as working professionals.

Gain A Better View of Student Progress

Shortened programs do not necessarily equate to higher retention rates. Students can still fall behind in their education, whether it’s due to a personal issue or a lack of understanding of the subject matter. Tracking practical skills is another way to ensure that students are adequately progressing through their program in a timely manner.

Ensure Continued Industry Professionalism

Hairstylists and barbers are talented, creative professionals. Fred Jones, legal counsel for Professional Beauty Federation, told The Coast News that the bill looks at the cosmetology industry as “a menial trade with not a lot of consumer harm implications.” He continued to say that “When you’re dealing with cuts and shaves and chemicals, you’re dealing with lots of consumer harms. On top of that, you’re dealing with an artistically demanding industry.”


Clients may not initially know the difference between a trained professional and an untrained worker, which can cause way more harm than just bad haircuts. Tracking practical skills will ensure that the students going out into the real world and working with consumers know how to uphold industry standards.

Uphold High Standards at Your Cosmetology and Barbering School

It’s up to California cosmetology and barbering schools to uphold high industry standards by continuing to track practical, hands-on training. Schools that maintain high standards of education will see success. Schools that fail to maintain these standards may see poor student outcomes, ultimately harming long-term school success.

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