Should a Man Go To Cosmetology School?

by Judge Josh on March 31, 2011

Jordan wants to go to cosmetology school, but is it too — you know, womanly?

I have read many of your article and posts and I have come to a conclusion that you are quite a knowledgeable person, which is what I really need right now.

Well, thank you very much. Glad to be held in esteem, my friend.

Man in Cosmetology School?

This man needs Jordan's help.

I am a 22 year old mature male and I am entering into Cosmetology school to become a Cosmetologist. I have been to a traditional university when I graduated High School but found that I wasn’t interest in any of its diverse majors.

Sounds fair to me.

I withdrew from the university and began working full-time to pay off the student loan I had taken out. I now work as an office manager which is a great position with good pay but I am not satisfied. After some so-called soul searching I had discovered something I am interested in and actually good at.

Well, if you’ve already gone to college, left, gotten a full-time job to pay the bills, done some soul-searching and then found your calling — all by the age of 22 — you’re way ahead of most people, Jordan.

I come from a traditional family where anything Cosmetic related is a woman’s forte and business and engineering is a man’s.

Hmmm, I wonder if you were a girl, they’d try and dissuade you from becoming and engineer…just sayin’

I have little to no support from my family but it is something that I really want and enjoy doing. I toured the school that I want to attend and I have found it is filled with intellectually immature just-out-of-high-school females and little to no male students.

Well, that doesn’t sound totally off-base, but really, if it’s what you want to do, it shouldn’t affect you any. Sad to say, but there’s no escaping intellectually immature males or females, regardless of where you go or how old you are. Trust me on this. You just have to learn to tune them out and do what you gotta do for yourself.

I enjoy being around people and working in cosmetic grooming and like to help people bring their style up to the next level.

Then you’ll probably be pretty good at your job.

The male demographic in the cosmetology field is quite low but I heard from a my local cosmetologist that males in the field are in demand.

If you’re worrying about getting hired because you’re a man, you shouldn’t. Yeah, cosmetology is always gonna be a female-heavy profession, but it’s not that men aren’t welcome. They just usually choose something else.

And hey, not for nothing here, but being the only man surrounded by tons of women is not always a bad thing. Plenty of dudes I know would love to be in that situation (in theory, anyhow).

Am I too old and mature for this decision I am making?

At 22, you’re not too old for anything. And you’re never too mature to do anything, either. If it’s what you want to do and you think it’ll make you happy, then do it.

Should I go against my families expectations and objections and pursue cosmetology or just stay where I am at? I could really use some sound advice right about now.

You only have to answer to yourself, Jordan. I don’t know your parents, but in general, parents can get over a lot of things they initially object to if it means their kids turn out happy. I don’t know how strenuous your parents’ objections are, but honestly, it wouldn’t change my answer.

I admit, though, that I have very little understanding of parents who saddle their kids with “expectations” that are really none of their business. I have three kids of my own, and honestly, why should any of them owe ME a say in what they do for a living when they’re adults? That’s ridiculous.

You’re a grown-up. You can and should do what you want. End of story. Especially when it comes to some stupid 50s-era perception of which jobs should be done by whom. Here’s what your parents’ expectations should be: that you become gainfully employed, reasonably self-sufficient and not a criminal.

After that…it’s really not their business. So, go forth and cut hair, my friend.

Thank You

You’re welcome.

— What about you all? Think Jordan should pursue the cosmetology course of action, or pursue something a little more manly? Let us know in the comments below.

{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Geoff March 31, 2011 at 1:54 pm

I think Jordan should do whatever he wants and who cares about what other people think. I wish I could go back in time and make choices based on what I want and not what other people will think. There is one caveat though, do not go if you are going to turn out like that male hairdresser that was on Real World New Orleans, he was a total douche bag.

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Amy March 31, 2011 at 2:45 pm

I say that if Jordan wants to be a cosmetologist, he should totally go for it. I have had numerous people, including a few family members, say I should be an engineer because I’m so good at math. However, my passion is for teaching, and so that is the career path I have chosen. While it is important to respect your parents, there is a certain point where they have to be willing to let you make your own decisions. After all, they’re not the ones who would be stuck in a job they don’t like.

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Rebecca March 31, 2011 at 3:10 pm

I say do what makes you happy and pays the bills. It’s not REALLY about whether or not you’re a man. I’ve had both male and female hairdressers before, and while the women are WAAAAY more common, the male hairdressers ALWAYS had their sh*t together. Always treated me like for that half hour or 45 minutes I was their first priority. Asked me important questions so everything was right before I left. They were knowledgeable. They were great at what they did. Since 75-90% of my hairdressers have been women…they have had many more opportunities to screw it up. Things like answering their cell phone in the middle of a cut, not listening and giving me not what I wanted, having a drama week, and then me being the shoulder to lean on…talk about uncomfortable!

If you love doing cosmetology, think about it in the short- and long-term. Do you want to own your own salon? Work at a spa? Ultimately teach cosmetology? Cutting hair 40 hours a week is tough work. Working for tips can be feast or famine. When you’re young, and only responsible for yourself it can be a decent living, and as you mature and settle down you’re going to want to launch into making more money, saving for a shiny car, kids, retirement.

Aaaaaand, some may not want to address this but there is (still) the perception that many (if not all) males that are in cosmetology are homosexual. For me, it doesn’t freakin’ matter. And for many other customers it won’t either. The PERCEPTION is out there though, and if you 1) Are homosexual, whoop-de-doo! There’s no harm no foul. Work it baby! And 2) If you are not, you will need to rise above the stigma and not be bothered by it. Or, Work it Baby!

Do what you love. Even if your parents are freaked by your choice, it is YOUR life. If you are taking care of your business like paying your bills and flossing your teeth, they *should* come around and realize you’re pursuing YOUR dreams.

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Diane April 2, 2011 at 10:37 am

Rebecca said pretty much everything I would have. The only thing I wanted to add is that when you are a mature student in classes with less mature students, you just need to try and develop a tolerance for immature drama and gossip, even if it drives you nuts :)

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Cassidy March 31, 2011 at 3:42 pm

Go for it. Do not let societies perceptions of correct gendered jobs hold you down. Ignore your parents “advice” on this!

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David March 31, 2011 at 4:01 pm

Follow your heart and do what you feel will be the most fulfilling. Many people hate what they do, so to do what you really enjoy, and make money at it, is a win win situation. Go for it. Cosmotology is not exclusively meant for females. Many men have entered the profession and have done, and are doing extremely well. If your parents are not on the same page, gently remind them that this is your life, and allow you to make the decisions that your heart says are right for you. Youth is on your side, and even if it were not, the heart knows what the heart knows.

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Jessica March 31, 2011 at 4:07 pm

I am also 22 and I changed my major last week because I was not passionate about it. Hun, do what YOU love. Do what YOU’RE passionate about. YOU want to be happy. DO NOT submit the gender binaries. DO NOT submit to what is expected of a biological male. Be happy with YOUR decision.

Go against THEIR expectations and follow YOURS. I’m here for you.

– Jess

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Emily W. March 31, 2011 at 4:10 pm

JOSH:

“You’re a grown-up. You can and should do what you want. End of story. Especially when it comes to some stupid 50s-era perception of which jobs should be done by whom. Here’s what your parents’ expectations should be: that you become gainfully employed, reasonably self-sufficient and not a criminal.”

I just had a full-blown fight with my father this morning over my career aspirations (screenwriting for television). I’m graduating next year and this was incredibly discouraging. I know it’s a tough market to get into, but I have three fall-back (more conventional) plans and I’m talented in the arts – so I think I have a fair shot. I just wanted you to know I read all your postings and I *REALLY* needed to hear this bit of encouragement right now.
So thanks, Judge Josh.
Keep postin’!

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Charlotte March 31, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Hmmm… seems to me that in all the 50’s era movies and shows the people folks went to for a shave and a hair cut were all men.
I would not be surprised at all if the female dominated cosmetology field were only a fairly recent development. It may help maintain peace with your family if you did a little research and showed them why the field is *not* innately gender specific. I mean, hey, if some of the best cooks in American kitchens are men (one night of watching iron chef shows that off), why not some of the best hairdressers/makeup artists? Education is often the key to overcoming stigmas. Education and people willing to stand up and change things.

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Kris March 31, 2011 at 4:12 pm

I agree – I have been to many a stylist over the years, male and female. I have had good service and I have had bad service, and the service level wasn’t gender specific; what did show is if the person really wanted to be there, and took the time to listen. If you have a heart for people, then go for it.

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Tanalie March 31, 2011 at 4:15 pm

The hairdressers I have heard about are pretty neat. Besides that point, you need to do what makes you happy. You don’t want to be stuck in a job you hate.

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Denise March 31, 2011 at 4:42 pm

I am currently studying for the CPA exam but I worked in salons for about 15 years and I personally don’t care to walk into another one again. The person who cuts my hair is male and he comes to my house when I need a trim.

Priorities, goals and passions do change over time so I say go for it now but it is not a lifelong job for most. Go in with your eyes open…standing behind a chair 40 hours a week is hard work, cosmetology is not glamorous, and you will always be surrounded by the intellectually immature in that business.

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JayJay March 31, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Dude, if cosmetology is your passion, make sure to do some thorough research (bls.gov has some great info about that profession; you can also interview and/or shadow cosmetology students/workers) and then jump into it. No matter what you do in life, do what’s right for you provided you aren’t harming anyone else. I’m not, for example, having kids and while some people object to that, I’m doing what’s right for me and I’m not hurting anybody. So many people are not able to find jobs that they are passionate about, so if you are truly passionate about cosmetology, that is the field for you. Good luck, keep your head up, and let your haters be your motivators.

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Denise March 31, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Great pic, Josh.

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Jake March 31, 2011 at 5:21 pm

you may smile when you hear this, but i too am becoming more interested in cosmetology. I am about your same age, 23, and seek a creative outlet aside from getting a tatoo. (which i really don’t want to do.) So I have turned to painting my fingernails with art in mind. But also for art in general. Cause after all, is not painting a face to make it look beautiful in real life just another way of painting a face on a canvas? You should do it cause you enjoy it, and don’t let others get you down on it.

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AJ March 31, 2011 at 5:28 pm

Male cosmetologist can be amazing! I mean just look at Paul Mitchell, huge list in between and more recently Chaz Dean! Go for it bro!
Hair and make up is not just for women 😉
Oh and lets not forget Ryan Roger, Mary Kay Ash’s grandson who is the CEO of the company

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kiwinc March 31, 2011 at 5:29 pm

Jordan,
Denise is right – the job is very physically demanding. If you just feel the need to convince your family that this job could go either way, ask them to spend one day moving the same way a cosmetologist does. That ought to make an impact.
To me it’s not so much about doing ‘what you love,’ mainly because people generally just don’t do things that they can’t sustain an interest in on some level. If this is what you like, try it. You’ve already got fall-back job experience as an office manager. You can go back to that type of work if you find out you hate this after all.
Making someone look good is an art, like painting or photography or dance or writing. Last time I checked, art was not a gender-specific field. This artform, though, usually helps you obtain gainful employment much faster than the more traditional ones.

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Linda March 31, 2011 at 6:31 pm

Just do what you want…just remember it is your life and no one elses!
Linda

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Max March 31, 2011 at 7:41 pm

I will tell you this. In China, every hair place has guys who are in their 20’s 30’s doing hair and make up. Who is better to do make-up, really? A guy, who knows what is attractive to guys, or a girl who is just guessing?

Anyway, do what pays the bills and makes you happy.

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Gaby March 31, 2011 at 8:26 pm

Why let outdated gender roles dissuade you? It sounds like his parents need to grow up…
As a female engineer, I’ve met plenty of resistance (from family, even). Did poorly on a test? Oh, its because my poor little brain can’t possibly comprehend anything remotely related to engineering. Did well on a test? I got lucky or I blew the teacher. Great.
Good luck Jordan, pay no mind to people who are fine with ridiculous double-standards or gender roles, and revel in the fact that you found something you truly like enough to not be swayed! :)

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Lesa March 31, 2011 at 10:27 pm

Do what you want to do! Who cares what other people think? I like science, so I’m a geek. My friend likes sports, so she’s a jock. People will always be labeling each other–you just have to do your thing and get on with your life and not be afraid. P.S. Can you say, hot chicks to date in cosmetology school? Just sayin’.

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Nurse101 April 1, 2011 at 10:25 am

I entered a once all female field about 20+ years ago as a nurse. Even today many males will not enter into professonal nursing due to the sterotyping of others. My family wanted me to become a Doctor, but my passion was nursing. I have been happily employed as a nurse for over 20 years . I have touch lives of patients, families and future nurses that has impact their lives in a positive way. This is a job that I would do for free and will always be my first love. Do what make you happy, so you can wake up everyday with a smile and giving back to others with true love of your art. Who really cares what someone else think about you. Love yourself first.

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Grey_GirlPTK April 1, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Jordan,

Ask your parents if they have ever heard of Paul Mitchell, Vidal Sasson, Jose Eber, etc… Not only can men be hairdressers but the good ones can make some darn fine income at it. Also I know several male friends that have done cosmotology school that aren’t gay (doesn’t matter if you are the courses are the same) that used it for training to work as make-up artisits in TV/film. All 6 make over $100,000 a year, and get to meet/work with amazing folks. One is currently working with Speilberg on a film. Men, as well as women, need hairdressers. Barber shops are in ever town/village/city that has male clients.

It can be long hours standing. It can also be very rewarding if it is what you love. Whether you work for yourself or in someone elses saloon will impact how much you make. But in the long run any job is going to require you to put forth effort, that’s why they call it work and not play.

Most people don’t like their jobs even a little bit. It makes them miserable and keeps them unhappy most days regardless of what they get paid. So if you can make a living do what gives you even a little joy forget your parents worries. Once they see you are successful and happy they will come around.

Good luck and enjoy your career:)

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NA April 2, 2011 at 12:09 am

In one episode of “King of the Hill,” one of the characters Bill pretended to be gay to work at a beauty salon throughout most of the episode. The customers and other beauticians had no problem with him then. Towards the end of the episode, Bill revealed that he is straight, and the women thought he was a disgusting pervert after that and fired him. If that episode is an indication, some women might feel disgusted by a straight man as their beautician. You should probably watch out for that occurrence.

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Megan April 2, 2011 at 9:13 am

Follow your dreams. Those ones are within reach. If it makes you happy do it. Parents will learn to support you later.

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Ashley April 4, 2011 at 6:30 pm

Its your life and if this is what makes you happy you should go for it. They are not the people who have to live with the desicions you make so why should they get a say in what career you want to take part in. GO for it! GOOD LUCK!

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Ana April 4, 2011 at 8:57 pm

NA needs to shut up! OMG, who uses TV as an example for real life? Especially King of the Hill? And what does sexuality have to do with this?
Reject forced gender roles! Become a cosmetologist if that’s what you want to do! It’ll pay the bills and make you happy!

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bua April 13, 2011 at 4:16 pm

I think it’s perfectly acceptable for a guy to follow his passion into cosmetology school. Sure, there are stereotypes attached, but who says you need to fit those stereotypes to be there? Go ahead, break the mold my friend. Very few parents are arrogant enough to disown their children. You’ll be fine. :) Best wishes.

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Katie April 27, 2011 at 10:47 pm

Some of my best hairdressers have been male, but then I’ve had many excellent female hairdressers, as well. If you’re worried about gender, it will show when you’re going out there trying to get someone to hire you. What you should be more worried about is whether or not you have the skills to back up your passions. You’re not signing up to be a surrogate mother–no one’s going to care which gender you are.

I allowed my parents to make my decisions as far as higher education went for the first 5 months of my education, and then finally I realized it wasn’t working after applying for transfer and STILL being miserable. You have to do what feels right. I know I would have saved myself a lot of time and bad grades if I’d just listened to my gut in the first place. You just have to have courage to get past your unique circumstances; the rest will come.

Good luck!

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Sithobile Priscilla Dube July 13, 2011 at 7:23 am

Jordan too needs to identify with a long and distinguished history of top-tier vocational schools of Cosmetology. His future success and work habits different from how women do it will reflect the schools’ teaching ability and reputation and many men might join him. He will help the schools to establish a strong alumni network of men and women Cosmetologists.

What matters is that Jordan has a passion for hair, makeup and style and he is justified to enrol in cosmetology school. Helping others look their best can be fun and exciting. Chances are that he has probably helped his friends and family style their hair or put makeup on in the past. He probably has seen several benefits of becoming a hair, makeup and nail stylist in the exciting world of beauty and fashion. He can develop to be a licensed stylist after school, and he will have the freedom to work when he wants and as much as he wants. When he graduates from cosmetology school he can either work in salons or build his own businesses and experience the freedom that entrepreneurs enjoy.
He will enjoy the benefits of having the amount and type of work he would do in the salon that is having a direct, often immediate, affect on his income. The more clients he would help, the more money he can make. According to a 2003 study by the NACCAS (National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences), the average income for a stylist in a salon reaches $50,000 a year. Some make much more. Such a study is surely a great motivator for Jordan and his intentions are very much encouraged.
Generally men like making people look their best and Jordan would enjoy this. If he uses his creative spark in trying new and provocative styles, he could get many customers. F he does well in the field he might be asked to style the hair and makeup of models and celebrities. Many stylists work in salons at first to learn the latest cutting-edge techniques and then move on to working with music personalities, actors, politicians and other people in the public eye. This would be ideal for both his male and female customers.
Since chances that he would be his own boss are high in the field, he could save himself from the horrors of working in an office, for example, on utter boredom, lack of training; managerial incompetence, gripes against fellow employees and other problems that can make a workplace seem like the last place one would want to work.

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Zach August 30, 2011 at 10:51 pm

Hi everyone – would love to hear some advice. Josh hasn’t gotten me an answer for a long time despite his promise to answer within a couple of days if we publicize this site via social media sites. I guess he’s busy.

I’ll keep it as short as I can. Thanks for your advice in advance…

I will be a senior this fall at Alfred University, on track to graduate with a BS in Marketing. Unfortunately, after classes and a couple of internships, I realize that I detest the concept and practice of marketing. My passions, I believe, lie in writing and thinking about “softer” fields including sociology/psychology, theology, and ethics.* I have 35k in debt so far.

But at this point, I wonder if I should just make the smartest decision financially and pursue a field that I won’t kill myself doing like marketing/selling.

Should I switch majors to Accounting, costing me another 10k in debt and year of school plus whatever else for a CPA? Or–my brother is a mechanical engineer at Cornell, I come from a long line of engineers, and I’m pretty bright–should I go for a second bachelor’s in engineering after graduating with my Marketing degree? That option might run me another 40k in debt and 4 years’ time, but pay out better than accounting in the long run.

Other options I’ve played out in my head include joining the peace corps to forgive some loans, starting my own PR business after graduating, studying for a Master’s in philosophy in the UK on a full-ride (fingers crossed for that scholarship)…feeling overwhelmed. What’s the smartest call here, you think?

*One last note on “following your passion,” which I hope you’ll include as I think applies broadly to a lot of the questions you receive on here. While it’s true that an English major can–to the relief of many English majors–be employable after all (in advertising, technical writing, etc.), I don’t believe that any fiction writer is thinking “press release” when asked about her true passion.

I just question the logic in many of the comments saying “less money is worth following your dreams”…I mean, yeah, hypothetically, I’d consider writing essays on my theological musings for a 30k salary the rest of my life instead of doing some ******** for 60k. An exciting/interesting gig is probably worth that 30k difference per year in overall happiness points…

…but I doubt I can get paid anything to be an essayist. More likely, well-meaning students write essays for 4 years in college (“following their passion”), then for the next 40 years write sparingly trying to impress consumers, publications, etc. or write soulless freelance how-to articles, kissing ass, teaching, and/or some other b.s. for that lower salary that they had assumed would be worth the tradeoff in extra fulfillment of “following their bliss.” Point is, when you realistically appraise what you can get paid to do, I’m wondering if anybody besides rock stars actually get paid to do what they love…I don’t know if writing for the sake of writing is worth the 30k difference I could be making as an engineer/accountant.

That is a bare-bones assumption that all your theater/art/English Lit/philosophy/anthropology student advisees should think about quantitatively: What’s the value on the fulfillment I’ll get from a career loosely related to my passion (like writing advertisements), as opposed to a better-paying gig that is unrelated to my passion (like accounting)? Will your job’s loose connection to your true passion for 40 hours per week REALLY offer you more happiness overall than an extra 30k in salary in an unrelated field?

After all, happiness is the end-game here.

Is a job just a job, and might we all be better off doing something tolerable and challenging for the most money per hour possible?

Thanks for your thoughts on my situation! Your site is a godsend for indecisive students like me and many others.

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Brittany September 1, 2011 at 4:11 am

AWWWWWW. I am amazed by how supportive everyone is being! I work at a hotel, and I deal with a lot of selfish, rude, mean people. You all have just reminded me to see the good in people, and that not everyone is a jerk. You guys are totally awesome.

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leon October 25, 2011 at 7:52 pm

Sir,

This is the 21st century. Watch all Project Runway seasons and you’ll see great and talented straight male fashion designers – some are even married with kids. Yes! There straight men out there who are interior designers and beauticians who are very successful and happy. 50 years ago, it was a shock to see or even imagine men who work as nurses, midwives, pre-school and kindergarten teachers. Please . . . go for your passion. You are in my prayers.

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Ian February 14, 2012 at 10:07 am

exactly my point! evryone is entitled to do wahetever they want to do its their life u only live once so mite as well live it how you want!

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