Across a sea of ladies dressed in dark scrubs stands a proud young man anxious to make his way in the world. That’s the picture inside Canadian Valley Technology Center’s evening Cosmetology lab, where Christopher Wright and scores of others are prepping for careers in the personal care service industry.
Wright, 20, of Yukon, toured CV Tech a few years ago as a high school sophomore. He liked what he saw but opted instead to focus on finishing high school.
He remembered the symmetry of nearly two dozen hair care stations and the pristine, huge ceramic tiles in a colorful presentation on the floor. And the scores of hair mannequins lined up for students. This working lab has helped launch the careers of hundreds of students – nearly all of them females.
Wright, a 2018 Yukon High School graduate, nevertheless recently began pursuing a career in the growing industry. Cosmetology jobs are projected to increase by 8 percent over the next eight years, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data. That’s faster than average when compared to other fields. Wright said he is not intimidated as a male in a female-dominant classroom. Instead, he chooses to focus on the career that most interests him.
“I use it as motivation in the sense that most women have a natural instinct for the Cosmetology industry,” Wright said. “After I complete Cosmetology school, I plan on immediately working in a salon.”
Cosmetology is much more than haircutting, he said, and Oklahoma requires all practicing cosmetologists and barbers to be licensed. Cosmetology licensure requires 1,500 hours of education at an approved facility before a person can sit for the state board exam.
CV Tech’s program curriculum also includes beauty services, such as scalp treatments, shampooing, conditioning, hair shaping, styling, coloring, restructuring, manicure, pedicure, facials and shop management. For those who enjoy such pursuits, there is likely no such thing as a bad hair day.
The median salary – half earn more and half less – in a salon is $38,640, which means hourly wages are roughly $12 per hour, according to BLS data. Managers and shop owners can earn much more.
Wright said his long-term goal is to become a platform educator, which is akin to being a hairdressing superstar. A platform educator performs on a stage at trade shows, often promoting new techniques and products. Skills required are great communication, sales and entertainment.
Wright enrolled at CV Tech using the Next Step Scholarship, which offers free tuition to anyone under age 24, who lives in a partner school district area and who has a diploma or equivalent.